The software that was chosen to research is called ASTRAL (Advanced System of Telecommunications and Reservations for Aer Lingus).
IBM, the company that created ASTRAL, is a leading information technology multinational company which originated in the United States that has been operating for over a century. As written by Margaret Rouse (2016), IBM (International Business Machines) is considered to be one of the world’s largest info-tech companies, providing its clients with a large array of hardware, software and services products. IBM who is sometimes referred to as “Big Blue,” first made a name for itself in hardware and the business began to grow from there, soon becoming the top supplier of mainframe computers. In the years following this, the company moved its attention from hardware to software and services for other companies. By the 2010s, IBM continued to adapt its business to emphasize other fields such as cloud-based services and cognitive computing.
Aer Lingus partnered with IBM to create ASTRAL. Aer Lingus had been assessing the use of electronic computers beginning in the 1950’s and how they could be integrated into the operation that was being run at the time. Other airlines such as American Airlines had already established a relationship with IBM in the production of operating systems, and Aer Lingus began to follow suit. Initially the System/360 computer was adopted by Aer Lingus on which a reservations system was designed and manufactured by IBM and Aer Lingus that could connect their employees and customers in other parts of the world including 18 cities in Europe and North America. This was the birth of ASTRAL.
Referring to TechArchives (2018), The Aer Lingus assignment summarised the most important trends in the development of computer applications. It contained data networking and included various airports in different countries. By doing this, the project showed that software could be successfully supplied as a product and other organisations followed suit. Using visual display terminals that were manned by customer service employees instead of computing specialists revolutionised the way airlines could process customers and day-to-day tasks.
ASTRAL is a passenger service system (PSS) which is a series of systems usually comprised of a Central Reservations System (CRS), a Departure Control System (DCS) and an inventory system. According to Michael Strauss (2017), the CRS is the system that allows an airline to seats as available for sale. It is where information on flight schedules, seat prices as well as a log of passenger names and their personal records but also a record of tickets that have been issued. In some cases, the airline inventory system is connected with the CRS. This is because this system is made up of all the airline’s flights and the seats that are available. The main use of the inventory system is to show how many seats are available on a specific flight. This is done by opening or closing a booking class (for example. Y-Class is economy and J-Class is business) in conjunction with rules set out by the airline. The departure control system is the programme used by airline staff to check in a passenger that is flying.
The DCS is connected to the reservation system, allowing it to see who has a legitimate reservation on a flight. The DCS is used for inputting information needed by customs or border protection bodies and to print the boarding card. Another use of the DCS is that in some cases it may be used to release cargo and to improve aircraft weight and balance figures.