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) ranks among the world’s largest information technology companies, providing a wide spectrum of hardware, software and services offerings. IBM, frequently referred to as “Big Blue,” got its start in hardware and prospered in that business for decades, becoming the top supplier of mainframe computers. Over the years, the company shifted its focus from hardware to software and services. By the 2010s, IBM further modified its business mix to emphasize such fields 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 project encapsulated key trends in the evolution of computer applications. It involved data networking across multiple locations in different countries. It demonstrated that software could be supplied as a product and rolled out in multiple organisations. It utilised visual display terminals that were operated by customer service staff, not by computing specialists.”
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 sell their inventory (seats). It contains information on schedules and fares as well as a database of reservations (or passenger name records) and of issued tickets. The airline inventory system may or may not be integrated with the CRS. The system contains all the airline’s flights and the available seats. The main function of the inventory system is to define how many seats are available on a particular flight, by opening or closing an individual booking class in accordance with rules defined by the airline. The departure control system is the system used by airlines and airports to check in a passenger. The DCS is connected to the reservation system, enabling it to check who has a valid reservation on a flight. The DCS is used to enter information required by customs or border security agencies and to issue the boarding document. In addition, the DCS may also be used to dispatch cargo and to optimize aircraft weight and balance.”