Airlines want to advance their aircraft operations. But three fundamental challenges stand in their way: high operational costs, poor on-time performance, and inefficiency. For flight operations to evolve, airlines need to be able to cut across multiple disciplines, and meet best practices, through digitization.
According to SITA’s latest Air Transport IT Insights survey, all carriers now have digitization or digital transformation strategies in place. They also have investment plans for cloud services, data centers, wireless onboard crew services and automated data management.
Carriers need solutions that support their digital goals both immediately and into the future. Yet many carriers still struggle to develop valuable business cases for the digital transformation investment they need, to get that all-important internal buy-in.
Digitizing the flight – nose-to-tail
Suites of intuitive airline applications and services have the power to support and optimize operations at every flight stage, bringing a wealth of RoI benefits.
In the cockpit, pilots are beginning to define the flight deck of the future. They’re adopting a proliferation of applications giving access to rich, vital information through single handheld devices. These can offer a bespoke portfolio that enhances situational awareness, safety processes and flight routing, minimizing workload and optimizing overall efficiency.
Adopting a central digital ecosystem of airline apps also enables pilots and ground-based operatives to work more collaboratively. Having more eyes on the same data, such as through smart fuel tracking, also offers further potential to identify issues or areas for optimization.
Flight tracking is a great example of this. To be able to report aircraft in-flight positions every 15 minutes, in line with ICAO recommendations, airlines have rapidly adopted new software systems. Incorporating rich global data sources, and automatically generating alerts if an aircraft doesn’t report its flight position, are just two ways such systems have enhanced airline dispatch operations.
Real-time connection – benefiting all aspects of flight
On the ground, maturing digital applications that can speak to those onboard, remain integral to advancing aircraft operations activities, collaboration and support.
Constant information sharing with the ground can be facilitated by connecting application-rich cockpit and cabin crew tablets over available flight deck connectivity links – VHF radio frequencies, satellite communications, new generation IP links such as SwiftBroadband-Safety.
This has the potential to benefit every aspect of flight, from real-time weather awareness, route planning and air/ground communications, to relaying aircraft health information.
Efficient flights, better passenger experiences and services
With the best and latest information to hand, pilots can better manage disruptions, avoid turbulence, improve timekeeping and, ultimately, provide a safer, better passenger experience – all thanks to consistent, seamless air/ground contact and data communications.
Connecting cabin crew devices, meanwhile, enables attendants to better synchronize with ground IT and colleagues onboard. Being able to receive connection updates, or share customer problems or catering stocks information mid-flight, are all ways enhanced communication empowers attendants to elevate passenger service.
Defining a digital future
As competition and air traffic congestion intensifies, embracing digital transformation is a smart, future-proofing move, taking daily flight operations to the next level. Investing in digitized operations – leveraged through an integrated, connectivity-ready airline application ecosystem – gives operators the foundations to meet their future needs and demands.
Airlines need partners with the expertise to help them achieve digitization now and long-term, being ever-ready to adapt. Indeed, if airline operations are to go from strength to strength in a digital world, standing still is not an option.
SITAONAIR's Digital Day of Operations