While the technical trials are ongoing, the compliance trial parameters are being defined and the technical specification updated with lessons learned. Errors and omissions are being fixed so that the time required to execute the specification update segment can be minimized.
There are currently four active trials in progress - Las Vegas (ARINC), Orlando (SITA), Dublin (Ultra) and Brussels (RESA). "While the actual execution of the trials has changed over time due to the installation and site-specific needs, the overall progress is proceeding as planned," said Samuel Ingalls, Assistant Director of Aviation, Information Systems, Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, who is also Chair of the CUPPS Leadership Team. He continued: "Our original goal was to have the technical trials completed by April 15, 2009, but we learned through the pilot process that the critical milestone in the schedule is the publication of the Technical Specification. Each of the four trials is progressing with different tasks, in different orders, based on the participants' views and needs, and therefore they are completing the trial milestones in different orders. This flexibility has allowed us to learn more in a quicker manner, as well as giving everyone the freedom to complete their tasks in a manner that is comfortable for them."
Once the technical trials are completed, the applications and platforms will be compliance tested and then certified to the specification. The specification will be updated then published by IATA.
The technical trials are scheduled to be complete on 15 July; the certification trials are scheduled to be complete on 8 July for platforms and 15 July for applications. The technical specification is scheduled for completion by 15 September.
Catherine Mayer, SITA's Vice-President for Airport Services, explained that the pilot is critical to ensure that the technical standard works as expected, especially the interoperability of CUPPS applications among the different platform vendors. "The intent is to have vendors test their platform with at least two airline applications and for these same airlines to test their new CUPPS application on at least two vendor's platforms," she said. "If there are technical issues or discrepancies, the Technical Committee can update the technical specification before its final release, again ensuring success and following a logical practice that is new for aviation industry Recommended Practices. This is the first time that the industry has ever ensured such testing and recommended practice development; it is a great showing of the benefits of industry collaboration."
SITA began testing at Orlando in January, with WestJet passengers checked-in and boarded using the CUPPS technology. When testing is fully completed, SITA's AirportConnect Open platform will be considered as CUPPS compliant prior to a general product launch later in the year.
Lufthansa is participating in the pilot trials with SITA at Orlando and RESA at Brussels. "We have been conducting thorough testing of our CUPPS application (CLIP - CUPPS LH Integration Platform) and the platform suppliers' platforms we are doing pilot trials with," said Thomas Jeske, senior manager - IT infrastructure, Lufthansa. "It is of no surprise that while for the first time these new platforms and the LH middleware get integrated an array of issues arise that even a very thorough Technical Specification could not foresee. So we have had several test runs (integration tests) in our labs both with SITA and RESA. We have reached a stage where we feel our code is stable enough to provide it to SITA and RESA to do their own testing/integration testing in their labs."
ARINC's CUPPS platform went live at Las Vegas McCarran in January. ARINC worked with the international IATA/ATA/ACI CUPPS team to develop the CUPPS Technical Specification published in 2008. The company fast-tracked its deployment of the vMUSE CUPPS platform installed for the CUPPS Pilot Project at Las Vegas McCarran. John Belcher, ARINC Chairman & CEO, said: "This is a true breakthrough for the aviation industry. CUPPS represents a major investment by ARINC that will give the industry tremendous savings. ARINC's vMUSE platform is now being enhanced to simultaneously run legacy CUTE applications, newer CUPPS applications, and airlines' native applications - a capability we launched in Singapore in November 2007."