Connectivity is also about having the right information at the right time to make optimal decisions ahead of time. We're all moving from a very reactive mode towards a proactive mode.

Dr. Jens Schiefele, Digital Aviation Research, Boeing

The digital airline is continuously optimized, a real-time operation fully connected across all departments and across airline customers. That's what we want to achieve.

The transformation is already happening. The latest aircraft have on-board network systems with connectivity built in.

The network system uses different data links to the ground which are then shared within the airline or among other partners in the industry. The network and connectivity offers real value for our airline operators and passengers.

For example, on an electronic flight deck we can already provide texting on the ramp. We can upload data needed during the flight, get real time weather updates, and make adjustments for optimized routes with less fuel burn.

If faults occur in-flight, we can have Maintenance meet us at the aircraft with the spare part ready at hand. We can also provide the airline with extensive post-flight analytics.

EFB majority

In terms of moving to electronic flight bags (EFBs), we’re now at the 50% point – half of airlines have already switched to digital solutions. We're seeing flight plans being uploaded, not just digital charts. But they're still isolated, often only ground connected.

I like the idea that we should no longer talk about gate-to-gate, but about door-to-door. From when the pilot leaves home until he or she is home again, from when the passenger leaves, until he or she's home again.

In fact, a pilot typically already does a lot of his or her work at home, so it makes sense to connect people end to end in their business life.

Connectivity is also about having the right information at the right time to make optimal decisions ahead of time. We're all moving from a very reactive mode towards a proactive mode.

Our staff today are changing from pure engineers to a more creative mix. They’re moving beyond visual analytics to provide decision support for the airlines – helping them get ahead of the curve, working to make an operation more efficient and better.

We need to do this together – because we can only make data flows seamless, share information, and optimize systems if the entire industry works as a partnership.