Flight Tracking & Messaging Systems (FTMS)

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The Rabbit BL2610 micro-processor and peripheral devices.

Flight tracking and messaging systems are common on commercial planes and taken for granted. This is not so for mission aviation organizations which employ small planes that fly into remote communities. Amongst these organizations there is a general need for adequate flight tracking systems for the planes that are dispatched into the wilderness of remote locations. The Communications group here at Messiah College is working to aid this deficiency by updating a flight tracking system to ensure its continued manufacturability!




Contracted by JAARS organization to upgrade their existing AFFS (Automatic Flight Following System) unit by using a new micro-processor that is not obsolete and will provide continued manufacturability of the AFFS unit.


  • Port code from the old micro-processor to the new Rabbit BL2610 micro-processor
  • Integrate the Pactor Modem and the new micro-processor (requires all new code)
  • Perform field testing on the functional AFFS 2.0 (this includes the inevitable software debugging of our prototype)
  • Incorporate additional functionality of the AFFS 2.0 upon communication with our contractors


  • In the 1990s, JAARS, one mission aviation organization, developed a low-cost flight tracking system entitled the Automatic Flight Follow System (AFFS). The system uses a High Frequency radio communications method with a wireless modem in order to communicate with ground stations. Ground stations are outfitted with a program developed for the system entitled AFFSWin. The program allows for tracking of flight coordinates by overlaying flight paths over maps. It also provides an interface for ground stations to communicate with pilots via text messaging. Unfortunately, due to passage of time and changes in the electronics market, the central microprocessor within the AFFS system became obsolete. This prevented additional units from being manufactured, which is where we came in...
  • In 2009 The FTMS group took on the task of updating the AFFS unit for use with different modems and radios as well as updating the micro-processor to ensure continued manufacturability.
  • In 2010 the project goals changed to solely focus on replacing the micro-controller in the AFFS unit to ensure continued manufacturability.
  • In 2011 the team completed porting the code which dictates the user interface. They also made considerable progress on porting the "Emergency Button Latch" code.
  • 2012 Initial porting of all code has been completed with the exception of the code that dictates the serial communication between the micro-processor and the Pactor modem. This code will need to be written from the ground up because this modem has never before been used with the AFFS unit.

Meet the Team

Project 4

Project 2

Group Orientation

Honorable Alumnus


Final FTMS Project Report Spring 2011

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