Towards a new generation of aircraft

Connectivity will enable airlines not only to improve passengers' experience but also to optimize flight operations.

 

Connected aircraft © Skypaq Connected aircraft © Skypaq

 

From passengers services to optimized flight operations

Thanks to the growing implementation of connectivity onboard aircraft and to technological innovations in various aspects of avionics, Geoffroy Stern believes that airlines today have a major opportunity not only to offer new services to passengers but also to optimize flight operations. Connected aircraft, or smart planes, are a new generation of aircraft that are considered to be nodes in a very wide network of interconnected systems. Airlines are increasingly interested in using IP- enabled systems to provide not only passenger connectivity but also data communications between flight crews, cabin crews and ground-based personnel to improve maintenance and operations. These systems can provide real-time weather applications, tracking solutions, cabin crew applications and aircraft health-monitoring services.

Electronic flight bag

As of today, the most developed application as part of the connected aircraft is the electronic flight bag (EFB), which allows pilots to receive static and dynamic data, in order to identify the most efficient route during the flight, leading to significant savings in fuel and time. To empower cabin crew and enhance customer service, some airlines have started to deploy mobile devices for crew personnel. Real-time cabin crew communications with airlines’ headquarters and ground operations also enable real-time fault-finding reports.

Improved maintenance operations

According to Geoffroy Stern, connectivity can also lead to improved maintenance operations, as access to real-time information related to the aircraft brings significant value. Connected sensors and operational data analysis can optimize maintenance cycles (with interventions scheduled before failures occur) or improve ground logistics after failures are reported during a flight. The airline is therefore able to reduce repair time, thereby generating real cost savings. These solutions are still in development; however, they are expected to take off with more reliable and affordable connectivity solutions (partly provided by High Throughput Satellite systems).

The new generation of aircraft will generate an increasing amount of data, as they will be equipped with advanced sensor technologies. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are increasingly involved in the process of collecting and generating data analytics from aircraft.

The benefits of such data analysis include less unscheduled maintenance, fewer delays and cancellations, reductions in maintenance costs and improved airline performance

The future connected aircraft will support big data strategies through multiple networks. Beyond passenger services, Geoffroy Stern is convinced that this will open new opportunities to optimize flight operations, aviation safety and contribute to the design of future aircraft.

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