Helping airlines and OEMs overcome the data-sharing challenge
By Rolls-Royce and SITAONAIR
The effectiveness of commercial aviation has always been influenced by the relationship between airlines and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). With today’s larger and more complex fleets generating increasing volumes of data, enhancing the aircraft data exchange between airline and OEM has come into greater focus.
From reducing maintenance costs, to improving flight operations and progressing research and development, seamless data exchange can bring major benefits to OEMs and airlines alike.
However truly unlocking the value of this data means overcoming a longstanding challenge.
The barriers to big data exchange
“Airlines are conscious that, packaged up in big data sets, are issues associated with flight safety, pilot performance and a range of other things that need to be handled very carefully,” says Nick Ward, Head of Product Management, Servitisation and User Experience at Rolls-Royce.
“Combined with this, increasing OEM requests for data mean that airlines are more conscious than ever about the value of their flight information. However, to perform at their best, OEMs need to understand the condition of an aircraft fleet. If we are unable to do that, we then can’t position the people and the parts in the right places, to keep engines available when they are needed.
“For three decades, we’ve pioneered the use of data to give customers greater insight into their operations. New levels of aircraft efficiency and availability were made possible by monitoring and analyzing the performance of engines and their components. To move to the next level of capability, we need to dig deeper into what’s going on in the engine – moving from the little data sets we traditionally get from the aircraft to continuous data recorded all the way through the flight,” he explains.
Advances in air-ground and on-ground connectivity make it more straightforward (if not necessarily cheaper) to offload data from the aircraft. At the same time, increasing OEM requests for richer, more seamless data from airline customers, has created a need for better structure in how this is shared.
Many airlines have formed data committees, raising the bar for data exchange practices with third parties. For all of these airlines, maintaining control and security of their data is a priority.
Cost and technological limitations have also presented a hurdle. Historically, data has been shared with trusted OEMs such as Rolls-Royce on an ad hoc basis – largely restricted by bandwidth limitations and transmission costs. While these barriers have diminished over time, without a central hub, each new request from an OEM has come with potentially major IT infrastructure project cost implications for the airline. Other options can mean an airline giving over control of its data.
Tackling the challenge
Today, a new option exists: sharing data through a distributed and neutrally managed data marketplace where airlines stay in control and choose what they share with who – without the need for costly IT projects every time. It was amid these calls for trust and neutrality that SITAONAIR’s e-Aircraft® DataHub was born.
Pierre-Yves Benain, Portfolio Head e-Aircraft, SITAONAIR, adds: “e-Aircraft® DataHub is the first truly neutral aircraft data brokering solution available on the market that provides choice, visibility and control to airlines and OEMs, while keeping airlines in full control of the select aircraft data they share with their chosen OEMs.
“Until now, airlines have been reliant on sending their data to OEMs without having visibility and control over distribution. e-Aircraft® DataHub flips this on its head by giving airlines visibility and control, without huge cost implications.
“As fleets get more complex and airspace gets busier, it is more important than ever to make data work in the interests of efficiency and reliability. e-Aircraft® DataHub delivers the openness, trust and collaboration to make this happen.”
Rolls-Royce’s Nick Ward adds: “SITAONAIR’s e-Aircraft® DataHub creates a much-needed neutral environment where operators have the freedom to securely share their data while maintaining control.
“This will help create the kind of open and collaborative innovation marketplace that unlocks the most possible value for airline customers.”