BLOG: Unleashing the power of aviation’s big data

Increasing operational certainty and control remains a ‘must have’ for the aviation industry – despite concerns about how this can be achieved.

The power of predictive tech, by unlocking the value of aircraft and passenger data, is key for all airlines to improve operational efficiency and safety, and the passenger experience.

This is a major observation of SITA’s latest report, The Future is Predictable, which provides insight from more than 50 top passenger carriers, 9,000 passengers and 225 airports.

For SITAONAIR, the SITA Group and industry connected aircraft service expert, the report provides much to sit up and take notice of, on both sides of the cockpit door.

Here, Dominique El Bez, SITAONAIR’s Vice President of Strategy, reflects on Future’s findings, looking specifically at how SITAONAIR’s unique approach and solutions address the challenges and opportunities of predictive tech – bringing more certainty to the inflight journey, mitigating disruptions, and boosting operational efficiency and passenger-airline safety.

“Airlines are incredibly ambitious to maximize the value of the internet’s ability to connect them with customers – just as Future is Predictable analysis pinpoints – and we at SITAONAIR are equally ambitious to help them achieve it,” says Dominique.

“As the report shows, more than half of all passengers already use some form of self-service technology along their journey. What’s more, passenger positivity increases at points where they are empowered to take control.

“Our Internet ONAIR solution is a perfect example of how we are directly responding to that behavioral need. Not only does Internet ONAIR enable passengers to access the inflight connectivity they increasingly expect. It is a platform for airlines to build a branded internet portal or application, through which they can create an interactive and tailored digital experience for passengers by getting to know them better.”

Harnessing behaviours

SITA’s report shows that 72% of airlines wish to harness passengers’ shopping behavior to define offers, and more than half (52%) want to draw on past purchase information and preferences.

This ability to pinpoint what passengers want is already available, as Dominique explains: “Our Internet ONAIR portal is evolving in this very direction. Depending on passenger permissions, an airline wants to tailor its passenger offer according to passengers’ frequent flier status, search histories, even plane seat number, to put forward individualized offers. This might be for car hire, hotel bookings or duty free, by securing advertising sponsorship. It can also enable passengers to check the live status of their flight and connections; even where their luggage is.

“This ability brings numerous benefits in delivering greater travel certainty. It supports airline efforts to build closer passenger bonds and loyalty, eases the passenger journey, and enables airlines to harness data to deliver truly personalized, intelligent, intuitive passenger service. SITAONAIR’s CrewTab supports this by giving cabin crew passenger profiles, preferences, flier status and constant updates.”

Importance of adaptability

The ability to adapt is crucial to airlines’ development. SITA’s Future analysis highlights the fact that every year, the community’s ‘best laid plans’ will be pushed to the limits by everything from bad weather and industrial action to unexpected technical faults and staff sickness. With flight disruptions costing the air transport industry an eye-watering US$25bn a year, according to a recent study, insiders are only too aware of the challenge.

And the industry is taking action. A decisive 84% of airlines will be investing in predictive analytics over the next three years, with more than 60% planning to implement technology to help them predict the impact of potential disruptions before they happen. Airlines also intend to implement automated tools to prevent or mitigate predicted flight disruptions, says the report.

“SITAONAIR has long been engaged in helping airlines employ the automated, predictive technology they seek”, says Dominique, “to minimize disruption, and optimize efficiencies, in several ways.

“Our AIRCOM® FlightPlanner, FlightMessenger, FlightTracker and EFB Weather Awareness Solution (eWAS) applications are perfect examples of how we help airlines expertly harness the predictive power of big data. They help pilots and dispatchers make the best-informed flight decisions and tackle fuel, time, navigation and other operational inefficiencies.”

Need to be responsive

Responsiveness is a vital characteristic of any predictive tech. Dominique says: “As a key example of this in action, FlightMessenger ensures aircraft data is automatically extracted, translated, dissected and delivered to the correct team as soon as it’s available. This rapid decoding of big data presents a huge undertaking for any airline, but it’s our specialty; where we excel. Fast response is also FlightTracker’s hallmark and it will be collating and generating automatic position data for any airline fleet more than once a minute by 2021.”

eWAS, meanwhile, represents sophisticated, real-time weather-predictive tech in motion. Dominique explains: “eWAS delivers rich weather data sources to operators, from accurate, blow-by-blow weather forecasting and Tropopause information to alternate flight plans.”

Expertly managing data

SITAONAIR’s newly-launched e-Aircraft® DataCapture perfectly illustrates why clever, automated solutions that empower airlines to get a handle on their big aircraft data are invaluable in pre-emptive tech.

Currently, our experts estimate that airlines are losing up to 25% of their data. The air-to-ground DataCapture service automatically collects aircraft data for improved safety, flight operations and maintenance – innovated by SITAONAIR’s data management experts. DataCapture overwrites the sluggish manual processes many airlines have for collecting and processing their aircraft operations data with an automated digital system.

Dominique says: “With e-Aircraft® DataCapture, data is gathered inflight, then securely transmitted once the flight lands to a ground system, hosted by SITA’s private ATI Cloud, that collects and transfers the aircraft files to analysis systems.

“By supplying immediate, detailed information of an airline’s fleet performance, that airline can significantly drive operational and maintenance efficiencies.” Download our e-Aircraft® DataCapture mini white paper here.

Predictive tech in action

SITAONAIR’s solutions are already responding to the industry’s pressing demand for predictive tech, with a wealth of truly pre-emptive, responsive services, from ground-to-air, nose-to-tail.

“We are the only ones in the industry with the mastery to help airlines integrate vast, siloed or multiple data and the technologies to harness them, and in all areas of their operations and business,” says Dominique.

“We make sense of that complexity to deliver what airlines need to truly enhance their operational efficiency, and bring that dimension of control and certainty they, and their passengers, crave. We have the respected data management expertise to handle, dissect and dig deep into that airline’s operational data – for their, and their passengers’ benefit.

“If you want to see your airline harness the potential of predictive technology – we’re the ones to speak to.”

Discover SITAONAIR’s full range of data-rich passenger products and services by clicking here.

You can download SITA’s full report – 2017 Air Transport Industry Insights, ‘The Future is Predictable – here.

Download our infographic, Data: The key to unlocking connected aircraft certainty, here.