ARINC Engineering Services, LLC introduced the fourth generation of its widely-used PilotMateTM maritime navigation tool. In a breakthrough for the industry, the new PilotMate system is completely self-contained. It provides independent, highly accurate position, heading, and velocity data using two GPS antennas, and displays real-time vessel traffic without relying on shipboard systems.

Maritime pilots use portable GPS-based units to help guide vessels through busy ports and waterways. But most such systems rely on a single GPS antenna for position, and must connect with shipboard Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders to report on vessel traffic. 

“The fourth-generation PilotMate system is a true breakthrough,” stated Don English, ARINC Engineering Systems Senior Technical Manager. “There is no other portable piloting unit that offers this extraordinary combination of performance, accuracy, and ease of use. It highlights ARINC’s continuing commitment to the maritime industry.” 

The core of the new PilotMate is an advanced dual-antenna GPS receiver, capable of independently delivering meter-level position accuracy and 0.2 degree heading accuracy. The fourth-generation design also integrates a state-of-the-art MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical) gyro to sense the vessel’s rate of turn. 

The new PilotMate obtains local vessel traffic information from an integrated AIS radio receiver. A ship-to-shore radio is also built in, which permits shore-side monitoring of PilotMate data, and onboard integration of PilotMate data with information received from ground-based systems such as weather stations. 

A wireless hand-held display is included in the new PilotMate system, allowing pilots to roam the vessel’s bridge while monitoring the ship’s position, velocity, heading and local traffic. The hand-held unit is continuously updated by wireless link, and runs ARINC’s PilotMate Display Software, a state-of-the-art charting system that displays data on standard NOAA electronic charts.

The fourth-generation PilotMate system is easier to transport, install and use than previous versions. It weighs about 17 pounds and can be deployed in a matter of seconds. ARINC is currently testing it with pilot organizations at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA, both longstanding PilotMate customers. Initial reports indicate a positive response to the new units. 

ARINC also offers its PilotMate technology in scaled-down versions for pilot organizations who prefer a lighter-weight solution, or those operating in longer pilotage areas. These PilotMate designs are based on single-antenna GPS and do not provide independent heading information. They also do not include ship-to-shore or AIS radio, relying instead on shipboard AIS for vessel traffic and heading information. 

ARINC Incorporated, a portfolio company of The Carlyle Group, provides communications, engineering and integration solutions for commercial, defense and government customers worldwide. Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland with regional headquarters in London and Singapore, ARINC is ISO 9001:2008 certified. For more information, visit the web site at