During a short hop from Hong Kong to Tokyo recently, a consultant for Calgary-based FLYHT Aerospace was shocked by a reference to AFIRS, the company’s in-flight monitoring system in a popular spy series.
This holiday season you will likely find yourself standing in an airport bookstore, searching out an engaging paperback to occupy the hours in front of you before your destination. If your pick turns out to be “Robert Ludlum’s The Janson Command” authored by “Paul Garrison”, then a reference to real-life Canadian aeronautics technology company FLYHT may shock you almost as much as one of the book’s insane plot turns.
This is what happened to a FLYHT consultant during a short hop from Hong Kong to Tokyo recently, when the acronym AFIRS, the company’s in-flight monitoring system, leapt off the page. The book’s narrative depicts the hero and his team flying an Embraer 650 “under the radar” which necessitates the switching off of their AFIRS technology, which otherwise would otherwise betray their presence in the sky by providing a constant air-to-surface data link, even when flying over an ocean expanse. The technology is that good, and that ubiquitous, that it has to be sabotaged to help the heroes fly incognito.
“I read these books all the time,” the FLYHT consultant said. “When I read AFIRS’ name I almost fell out of my seat. It’s one thing to read about AFIRS in industry publications, which I do often, but to see it in a pop culture book shows the author and his team really did their research on the leading technology in the field. How cool for FLYHT and AFIRS!”
But there was more FLYHT action to come. Later in the book appeared the sentence, “The Flight Management System, which was monitoring fuel burn and the latest winds, had found a fuel-saving route above the jet stream that would allow them to fly direct to Isle de Foree.”
This is pretty obviously a reference to FLYHT’s AFIRS-enabled Fuel Management System. So, without the efficiencies created by the usually unsexy world of in-flight technology, your Robert Ludlum thriller would have been just that much less thrilling. Who needs Jason Bourne when you’ve got AFIRS?
“The Janson Command” is the latest edition in a spy thriller series begun by the deceased Ludlum and finished up by Justin Scott, writing under the pseudonym “Paul Garrison”. Scott is the author of no fewer than 29 books.
Could FLYHT’s cameo signal a trend for Canada’s tech industry making subtle literary appearances here and there in the future? Might HootSuite get a mention in one of those YA romance serials published by Wattpad? Could social media emergency service start-up ePact save a fictional town from destruction in a yet-to-be-written thriller? Margaret Atwood’s next sci-fi dystopian treatise could well be titled “The Year of the Sector Rotation”.