New Technologies – how will tomorrow look?
Author: Igor Dimnik, Director, Airline OCC and Crew Application Portfolio, SITASubscribe
Efficiency is the name of the game as we start to emerge from the most disruptive event to have ever challenged the aviation industry. There are many ways in which efficiency can be improved for each component in the air travel process but, as importantly, if those differing components can be brought together within one unified infrastructure, that will generate efficiency gains in and of itself. Fortunately, IT, software, Apps and modern connectivity have provided us with the tools needed to create that unified infrastructure, to take information out of the individual departmental and functional silos which each require their own inputs of data and information, and into an infrastructure that allows them to automatically share information and work together.
A NEW APPROACH TO DAY OF OPERATIONS
In an industry that is disruptive, competitive and complex, at SITA FOR AIRCRAFT, we have a clear mission; to help transform and optimize your day of operations, every single day in every way possible. We call it Digital Day of Operations (DDO). DDO utilizes SITA FOR AIRCRAFT apps and services to digitalize aircraft operations on the ground and in the air through effective and seamless communication across platforms. Smart technology and collaboration improve on-time performance, turnaround, safety and sustainability while reducing costs, for example, on fuel. From pre-flight to post-flight, cabin crew to ground staff, our application solutions are built to better assist, accurately track and effectively communicate seamlessly across people, places and processes. With that connectivity unlocked, operational efficiency is enhanced, on time performance improved and greater cost savings made possible. The era of digital transformation has arrived and the time for optimization is here and now.
A focus on value creation
Digital Day of Operations portfolio focuses on five strategic value creation areas (figure 1).
SITA brings a range of enablers to the process. These include the neutrality and legitimacy of being owned by the transport industry with a growing presence in the sector and portfolio of solutions. But also, SITA has a mastery of the latest technology trends such as Aircraft IP connectivity, AI / data analytics, Blockchain, Automation and Personalization.
Turning specifically to the strategic value creation areas, parts of the process where increasingly well-informed, management can improve efficiency, we have identified five such areas. The first is to track and optimize in-flight routing and turnaround in order to reduce fuel costs because, as readers will be aware, fuel costs represent the largest part of an airline’s overall operating costs. In a similar vein, the next area is to minimize the costs, both of damage and from delays, caused by in-flight turbulence. To most effectively achieve that, it is necessary to assist pilot operations so that pilots are more aware, and in near-real time, of weather and turbulence conditions along the flight plan route. This will help them to take avoiding or mitigation actions. To reduce both turnaround times between flights and the number of people who need to be involved in turn around, there needs to be a mechanism for all of those people to effectively communicate and collaborate with each other and that is our third strategic value creation area. Again, something that will save on fuel as well as improve the crew’s ability to do their job is to reduce the use of paper on the plane that can both reduce weight and empow crew engagement. And finally, in order to support airlines on their transformative journey towards zero carbon aircraft operations – do more with less – we’ll need to create a positive impact in that area.
IMPACT OF COVID ON THE FIVE PILLARS
These five strategic value creation areas are the pillars on which Digital Day of Operations has been built (figure 2) and they have remained valid even in the circumstances of COVID-19 and the post-COVID recovery with which the industry is starting to get to grips.
What figure 2 shows is, for those strategic areas, business challenges that were associated with them before the pandemic but that have, at least for the time being, now disappeared, and new challenges that have emerged as we move forward from the pandemic; plus, the solutions that SITA FOR AIRCRAFT is able to offer in order to address those challenges – Apps and solutions named here and described at the end of the article.
Tracking and optimizing in-flight routing and turnaround was, before COVID, challenged by factors such as airport congestion, the need for real-time optimization due to congestion and the increasing pressure of high traffic growth. With the greatly reduced level of activity in the sector and the reduced staff numbers that necessitates, those challenges have disappeared but the challenge now is to be able to compensate for reduced staff levels by applying digitalization and automation to processes. From the DDO portfolio, several solutions are applicable including FlightFolder, eWAS Pilot and eWAS Dispatch.
Since the COVID pandemic, the processes of communication and collaboration have been had to deal with the additional challenge of a greater need for remote engagement as people are understandably more wary of physical contact. One excellent solution from the DDO portfolio is ‘Mission Control’.
In assisting pilot operations, one challenge has now disappeared for the foreseeable future, that of crew shortages. But other challenges have emerged including that of flying new routes and the need to re-train furloughed pilots who might have experience several months of idle time. Again, from the DDO portfolio, eWAS Pilot will be able to assist in this and OptiFlight will also be useful.
As far as the empowerment of crew engagement is concerned, while none of the familiar business challenges have gone, there are a couple of new challenges that have emerged. These include new regulations in light of the COVID experience and, in particular, regulations relating to passenger health matters. Also, in straightened financial times and with the need to generate sufficient revenue from fewer passengers, ancillary revenue streams are of increasing importance. CrewTab is one solution from the DDO portfolio that will be applicable here.
Altogether, these various pillars will rely on the fifth pillar, to have a positive impact on the challenges of climate change and the need to reduce and, ultimately, eliminate carbon from aviation.
A PORTFOLIO THAT DELIVERS POSITIVE BENEFITS ALL ROUND
Bringing the SITA FOR AIRCRAFT solutions together in a single portfolio, Digital Day of Operations, delivers not only the benefits from the individual solutions and Apps, valuable enough in themselves, but also the wider benefit of being able to address each stage in the process with a digital App based solution and the combined benefit of a whole solution (figure 3).
Greater efficiency in both dispatch and the Operations department can have a real impact on reducing turnaround times. Route optimization using improved flight planning processes and technology will also lead to more accurate fuel calculations which, in turn, will deliver fuel cost minimization and a consequent reduced level of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions. Put all of those benefits together with improved communication between flight stakeholders, which will also facilitate, greater collaboration in pursuit of shared, objectives and the whole portfolio delivers improved efficiency and effectiveness in operations. That doesn’t only mean reduced costs, important as that is, but also a better flight experience for passengers and the improved airline credibility and reputational capital that generates.
Enhanced passenger experience
Let’s look a little further into that improved passenger experience and why DDO suite of Apps can help the people in the process to do the best possible job (figure 4).
In the cockpit, FlightFolder reduces any delays through better operational flight plan (OFP) handling and eWAS ensures that pilots are better informed about the location of any turbulence along the route. That enables them to take timely avoiding action or arrange the timings of services onboard so that they are not delivered during a turbulence event, all of which will improve passenger comfort. CrewTab allows the cabin crew quick access to passenger information (dietary requirements, likes/dislikes, specific health/comfort needs) so that they can offer real customer care that seems almost intuitive. Also, with less time needing to be spent of administrative work, there will be more time to spend on passenger care. On the ground, Mission Control gives the Operations Control Center (OCC) team live updates on flight progress to help them to better prepare for passengers’ arrivals. So, if, say, a passenger on a delayed flight has a connection to make, OCC can either arrange a rapid transfer or, if that’s too late, arrange an alternative. Also, the maintenance team can know in advanced of any potential issues with an inbound aircraft and be prepared (personnel, tools, materials) on arrival which will reduce turnaround time.
DIFFERENT ACTORS WORKING TOGETHER
There is a lot to be said for leveraging the combined value of individually powerful Apps and solutions into a connected and integrated architecture, and the DDO portfolio does that.
Taking that theme of collaboration (figure 5) it’s useful to understand the activities and people for whom collaboration is important in order to understand why what the DDO suite of Apps offers can add even more value to the overall process of flying.
One of the more important contributors to seamless and efficient collaboration is data consistency, one accurate version of the truth. When different siloed functions within a process use technology solutions that re not linked, then getting data consistency can be a challenge whereas, using the SITA FOR AIRCRAFT Digital Day of Operations suite of Apps means that all Apps in the portfolio share the same input and data processing which ensures data consistency. Each of the functions and actors in the process are working towards the same end, putting the aircraft safely and efficiently in the air, but are contributing different inputs to that. All are essential whether pilots, cabin crew, dispatchers, fuel handlers, ground ops or the maintenance crew. The DDO suite of Apps ensures real-time data consistency and improves collaboration across all flight stakeholders.
SITA FOR AIRCRAFT powers airlines’ sustainable digital transformation needed for optimized, next generation flight operations. Our Digital Day of Operations apps help airlines better assist, accurately track and effectively communicate through every touchpoint of the aircraft journey. The Digital Day of Operations portfolio can transform your optimization plans into reality.
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THE APPS AND SOLUTIONS IN DIGITAL DAY OF OPERATIONS PORTFOLIO
We’ve cited a number of the Apps that make up the DDO portfolio; so, it might be useful to expand on what they are and what they do.
25 percent of serious injuries incurred during flights result from turbulence. eWAS Pilot offers real-time, optimized views of weather phenomena so that, with real-time access to accurate multi-source weather reports for turbulence, thunderstorms and lightning, pilots are better prepared for flights, while passengers experience a more comfortable service. Armed with a complete and most-up-to-date picture of weather events, pilots can take informed, proactive decisions to re-route flight plans to avoid significant weather where needed.
SITA FOR AIRCRAFT’s new generation flight tracking system includes best-in-class weather information from multiple providers. The user-friendly interface allows dispatchers to monitor flights in 4D while reducing their workload and optimizing flight operations. Global weather coverage from multiple providers, allowing dispatchers to make better decisions based on more accurate and extensive data. eWAS Dispatch includes a unique combination of features focused on weather avoidance optimization, fuel usage optimization, communication, and tracking. All these provide multiple opportunities in the areas of airline safety, efficiency, and performance.
Mission Control facilitates cross-functional cooperation between diverse teams such as pilots, OCC ramp, and gate personnel through a single platform. It helps airlines better manage operations, turnarounds, fuel consumption, and ultimately, carbon emissions. It is easy to use and can be accessed via mobile phones, laptops, and tablets, allowing everyone to have simultaneous access to the same information. Working alongside Datalink services, meaning route and wind information can be uplinked directly to aircraft flight-management systems. Mission Control is an add-on to existing Microsoft Teams software, suitable for use with any device.
In partnership with Safety Line, SITA offers OptiClimb as part of our Digital Day of Operations portfolio. Using machine learning, OptiClimb optimizes the efficiency of an aircraft’s climb-out phase to initial cruise level, reducing fuel burn and CO2 emissions. It combines aircraft tail-specific machine learning with 4D weather forecasts, to recommend customized speed changes at different altitudes. It predicts fuel burn in tens of thousands of flight scenarios, issuing recommended climb speeds to pilots ahead of each flight. Fuel savings of 5-6% are possible for each flight. This could reduce annual CO2 emissions by thousands of tons and operational costs by millions of dollars.
SITA FOR AIRCRAFT’s flexible, all-in-one tablet application for cabin crew digitally transforms your daily operations from the ground up, unlocking the highest level of resource optimization, ultimate cost savings, innovative revenue generation opportunities, and maximum passenger satisfaction. CrewTab has all the features you need to enable and maintain sustainable cabin crew operations at all stages of your unique digital transformation journey. Establish and preserve the best use of your available resources while eliminating the carbon footprint of paper-based processes. The digitalization journey is also a road to maximum cost-savings enabled via the automation of many complex and straightforward processes. Unlock your workforce’s hidden capacity by liberating them from cumbersome tasks and redirecting their focus to more critical matters.
These are just a part of the SITA FOR AIRCRAFT universe of Apps and Solutions to make flying more cost effective, more efficient and safer.
Challenging times call for innovative and integrated solutions. Sita FOR AIRCRAFT’s Digital Day of Operation portfolio leverages the latest digital technologies into a single support capability.
SITA FOR AIRCRAFT
SITA For Aircraft represents the aircraft arm of SITA. SITA is the IT provider for the air transport industry, delivering solutions for airlines, airports, aircraft and governments. Today, SITA drives operational efficiencies at more than 1,000 airports. SITA’s technology provides solutions that help more than 40 governments strike the balance of secure borders and seamless travel, while delivering the promise of the connected aircraft to more than 400 airlines on 17,000 aircraft globally. SITA is 100% owned by the air transport industry.