Yesterday we announced that Inzpire had won a Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation for the second time.
Inzpire won its first Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation in 2014 for the GECO tablet. Since then, the company’s mission systems experts have been working tirelessly to enhance the capability in to a full system, allowing aircrew to plan, fly and debrief missions from beginning to end; it is this system which has been bestowed the Queen's Award honour for the second time.
How did the GECO product get to where it is now - an award-winning, safety-enhancing product used by aircrew all over the world?
Inzpire’s first contract for “GECO” - the Graphical Electronic Cockpit Organiser which was designed by aviators, for aviators - was for a tablet-based airborne mission system to support UK Tornado GR4 and Apache operations. Following this success in 2010, Inzpire’s team of engineers and former military aircrew rapidly developed new apps for GECO to enhance its capabilities, before delivering further tablets on an urgent timeline to support RAF Typhoon operations. Their work on this requirement earned the team direct praise from the UK Government and ultimately led to Inzpire receiving the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation in 2014.
In the same year, the Mission Systems team realised that there was a gap in the market for a highly capable ground-based planning system to complement the GECO tablet. Proactively developing the GECO Mission Support System (MSS) for use on desktop and laptop PCs before any requirement had been issued, Inzpire subsequently won the contract to provide GECO mission planning systems and tablets to equip the RAF’s Puma 2 fleet, reaching initial operating capability in 2016 and final operating capability in 2017.
Inzpire's GECO tablet has been used by the RAF's Puma 2 fleet since 2016
GECO MSS differentiates itself from competing products by providing the high standards of safety, security and reliability required for mission-critical functions combined with the adaptability, upgradeability and affordability that modular design brings. These attributes were quickly recognised by aircrew near and far, and after adoption by the RAF, GECO quickly became the go-to Mission Support System for a number of international customers, as well as gaining further success within the UK.
Notably, GECO was deployed with the RAF’s Puma Force to support hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean in 2017. Additionally, GECO was used by both Tucano and Puma fleets to plan and support their parts in the RAF’s 100th birthday flypast over London in 2018, which was broadcast live across the UK.
In late 2017, GECO was used by the UK Joint Helicopter Command’s Puma Force assisting in the relief efforts in the Caribbean, following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Inzpire’s latest achievements include the adoption of GECO MSS by RAF Valley’s Texan fleet of turboprop trainers, part of the UK Military Flying Training System. As a result of the team’s performance during this project, Inzpire was recognised by Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems as an Elite Supplier in 2020 and was one of only two non-U.S. companies to be achieve this success. The work done by the team has really highlighted GECO’s ability to be adapted to new platforms, with its modular approach providing the flexibility required to interface with any platform.
As GECO has evolved, it has developed features beyond simply providing navigation data to a crew and now supports the entire mission cycle. GECO provides all the information to accurately, safely and quickly plan the mission, through a wide range of automated features including accurate performance calculations for either helicopter or fixed wing platforms. Because the Mission Systems team is passionate about the products it delivers, GECO is focussed on providing a smart environment that minimises planning workload for crews and allows them to focus on the task at hand. Bringing all the information required to plan a mission from a variety of sources significantly reduces the effort required from a crew to go flying, as well as reducing the amount of paperwork that has to be taken on any aircraft deployment.
Rehearsal features, including 3D fly-through and satellite imagery, ensure that all involved share a common mental picture of their mission. GECO tablets support crews during flight with safety and situational awareness information vital to their mission.
The GECO system's enhanced planning tools mean aircrew can plan and rehearse all aspects of a mission, whether it be operational or training, before they even reach the aircraft.
Additionally, both air and ground-based personnel can use the Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) communication feature of GECO to track mission progress and communicate directly either between aircraft or between ground and airborne units. In an example of Inzpire’s innovative approach to development. The BLOS feature was added to GECO within weeks of a UK requirement to support deployed operations, with equipment delivered a month after the contract was awarded.
After a sortie has been completed, GECO supports Inzpire’s learning ethos by providing a comprehensive debrief function. In its latest guise, this includes downloading of aircraft data to both enhance debriefing and provide feedback to crews where vital limits may have been broken. Because this feature is embedded in to the mission planning environment, aircrew can directly compare the mission they had planned against the mission they actually flew, providing unique insights into the lessons that can be learned from a sortie.
Having been built from the ground up to support an app-based design, GECO supports the vision of its customers to achieve the functionality required today as well providing a pathway to future requirements. Inzpire is honoured to be recognised for this approach and to be recipients of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation in April 2021.
This collaboration will see QinetiQ, Inzpire, and Naimuri work with the University of Lincoln to maximise capabilities in artificial intelligence
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