As air travel innovations accelerate, what does the future hold for the aviation industry? IoT applications and other connected services have great potential in airline operations.
From the automation of maintenance and mobility services to IoT and cloud applications, digital transformation is taking hold in the airline industry. The reason is simple— finding ways to make processes more efficient, whether in the cockpit or on the ground, is part of a vital need to derive more value and efficiency from existing assets. Efficiencies can be achieved in almost every corner of airline operations with new technologies.
Paperless Flight Operations
Connecting pilots and flight attendants using electronic flight bags (EFB) and electronic passenger manifests are just a few examples. These systems are more convenient for reducing paper use and weight. They also allow for greater agility with secure and near-instant updates, faster filing of flight plans, and smarter reassignment of seats for passengers in the cabin, based on onboarding gate priorities and other criteria.
Beyond that, electronic notebooks can also be used to improve and accelerate:
- Flight preparation processes for pilots and flight crew
- Customer service and operations, at the airport or even before passengers arrive at the airport
- Processes for ground personnel, including stopovers and predictive maintenance
Take another example: unscheduled maintenance. The associated delays can result in considerable costs for airlines. It is estimated that just two hours of unscheduled maintenance of an aircraft on the apron can cost up to $150,000. All of this has a huge impact on the operating margin. Not to mention customer satisfaction.
Unscheduled maintenance is one of the critical areas where a proactive, technology-based approach can improve, helping to manage predictive maintenance and avoid device engineering delays.
Airlines are increasingly integrating more high-performance connectivity capabilities into their global fleets and the supply chains, beyond the use of very small aperture terminal (VSAT) connections. There is no doubt that there are countless benefits of connected technologies in the aviation industry.
Improving productivity and efficiency within existing processes depends on smooth collaboration between airlines and airport authorities; at the heart of this challenge— the need to provide staff at airlines, airports, and service provider partners with permanent access to data and applications.
Air travel innovations revolve around automation, using a combination of big data, AI, IoT, and mobile connectivity services. But it is only by combining the business strategy with the proper technical infrastructure that carriers will achieve further efficiency gains.
Successfully initiating digital transformation alongside global business expansion requires a thoughtful approach to identifying and implementing the best information tools and connectivity infrastructures.
For the growth of airlines to successfully cross borders, it is essential to develop connectivity services for national operations.
This is an excessively complex task and best handled by concluding a contract with a single global operator. The latter can negotiate on your behalf all local cellular access agreements while also providing cloud and mobile connectivity of end-to-end and data management services.
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Connected Flight Crew and Pilots
The benefits of connected services for pilots, flight crew, and ground crew to improve efficiency don’t end there. Global cellular connectivity also offers opportunities to expand ancillary revenue generation. The additional sale of in-flight entertainment services could be a lead.
Another exciting way for an airline to generate income would be to position itself as a virtual mobile network operator. It is a logical extension; after all, by definition, their customers are on the move.
By offering travel SIM services under their brand, carriers can boost the loyalty of frequent travelers, for example, with a contracted global SIM card. Some airlines already offer prepaid SIM cards on board. This strategy can generate lucrative income and retain regular travelers. Ultimately, improving the passenger experience helps serve broader goals related to corporate reputation and customer retention.
A harmonized approach to digital transformation has the potential to reduce operational costs, and bring additional revenue while also improving the experience of customers, employees, and partners.