Air Transport World

CAROLINE connects cargo computers. (SAS/Alitalia system)

SAS and Alitalia are creating highly sophisticated computerized cargo systems, putting computers on the same track.

The creation of computerized cargo systems certainly is nothing new. Basically, any airline with a few computers, telephones and modems can come up with a system to link itself up with the appropriate members of the air-cargo community. British Airways has its PC-based CARAT system, Lufthansa has MOSAIK, Alitalia has FAST, KLM has CARGOAL, Scandinavian Airlines System has TradeVision, American Airlines is developing a system, tentatively called TOPS, for Terminal Operations and Planning System, which not only will allow billing by computer but also will create cargo-yield-management programs. And several airlines are joining forces to build networks similar to the passenger CRSS.

The problem is that while all of these are fine systems, few of them can communicate with each other. Like the railroad networks of the 19th Century, they're running on different gauge tracks.

In June, 1989, the SAS board of directors approved creation of a new international computerized cargo-handling and communications system that would go far beyond its own airline's cargo needs.

The new CARgo On LINE (CAROLINE) system would link "all external and internal--cargo shipping-participants into one paperless flow of information," the airline said.

However, on Oct. 5, SAS and Alitalia signed a letter of intent to develop the system, combining CAROLINE with FAST into a single, as yet unnamed, system.

Alitalia currently has 40 major carriers signed up on its FAST system. …

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