From build to buy: American Airlines changes modernization course midflight

By Robert L. Mitchell and Johanna Ambrosio, Computerworld |  IT Management

American Airlines check-in kiosks

Self check-in kiosks are pictured at the American Airlines terminal at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California October 31, 2012.

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

American Airlines was well into a simultaneous revamp of its Passenger Services System (PSS) and Flight Operating System (FOS), its two most mission-critical families of applications, when the airline changed course last January.

The plan still calls for a gradual migration off of an inflexible and outdated mainframe architecture in favor of a modern, distributed computing platform. But while the FOS focus has always been buy rather than build whenever possible, the focus for the PSS project has turned sharply away from rewriting all of the applications that make up the system in house in favor of buying existing software whenever possible and modifying it as needed.

[FCC urges FAA: Let passengers run gadgets during takeoff and California sues Delta Airlines for lack of mobile app privacy policy]

The ramifications of that decision are still playing out.

American mobilizes its forces

In addition to modernizing its back-end infrastructure and applications, American is providing flight crews, airport agents and maintenance staff with access to operational information from a range of new mobile devices. These devices provide new capabilities to different staff functions, including:

Flight attendants have been issued Samsung Galaxy Note tablets to access real-time customer information such as seat assignments, premium class food and beverage options, loyalty program status, connecting gate information, delay information and requests for special services.

Aviation maintenance technicians (AMTs) are using Samsung Galaxy Tab tablets to communicate with tech services, access technical information, receive and close tasks, and check maintenance history and parts availability -- all while working on the aircraft. Previously, AMTs had to return to their desktop computers or refer to manuals.

Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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