One domain that has never failed to dazzle us with the wonders of technology is the aviation industry. A testimony to how far human invention can go in breaking barriers, a validation to the successful union of science and creativity, and a symbol of unprecedented growth, the aviation industry is now leaping to the next level by integrating big data analytics with its core. All dimensions of aviation today are benefiting from using business analytics from operations management (flight and ground operations) to maintaining and engineering commercial and business aircraft services to airport profitability and benchmarking. Here are 5 facets of the aviation domain that are seeing rapid transformation thanks to the usage of advanced analytics:
- Airport Congestion – Airport traffic is a global trend, increasing by the day, threatening congestion glitches even as major airports across the world expand their operations and use technology to counter the losses incurred due to accommodating overcapacity. Analytical experts and data scientists are successfully using parameters such as terminal capacity, runway bandwidth, flight routes, passenger numbers, types of aircraft, ticket prices, etc. to identify patterns and compare them to the busy but not-so-constrained airports of the world. According to McKinsey, “In Brazil, aviation traffic has been growing fast for the past decade, and annual passenger traffic is expected to more than double by 2030, reaching more than 310 million passengers. Not surprisingly, airspace congestion is a growing concern. To deal with the problem, Brazil is introducing a system that harnesses GPS data to optimise the use of available airspace, enabling less separation between aircrafts and shorter routes.”
- Digitising Services – Thanks to big data analytics, several digitising efforts and initiatives are seeing the light of day spanning over a wide range of customer and operational needs. Real-time performance dashboards, unmanned vehicle-to-vehicle communication, predictive maintenance in operations are the many gifts of analytics aiding rapid digitisation in aviation. Building customer experiences through customer relationship management and pricing models is on the rise for all aircrafts trying to make profits and cut costs. However, several roadblocks stand in the way of digitisation. Major ones are a lack of transparency as aviation consists several complex networks with many vendors, a lack of consensus between different players targeting different goals, and regulatory constraints from government bodies.
- Aircraft Maintenance – According to Boston Consulting Group, fewer technicians remain on the maintenance hangar floor, as they spend more time on problem-solving. In place of logging inspection statuses compliance documents manually, diagnostic algorithms and inspection robots are being used to record all compliance and maintenance information automatically. Drones and robots are used to not only inspect every area of the aircraft but also reduce the risk that comes with humans accessing danger zones. Part replacements and maintenance activities are carried out faster with consistency improving safety for those handling sensitive activities, accurately detecting defects and predicting maintenance, and eliminating time wastage.
- Market Leadership – Every major player wants a piece of the pie but increasing production costs and supply shortage can make it harder to sustain a profit percentage for long. Experts in aviation are most worried about ROI as 70% of the cost goes into airplane design and engineering, procuring and assembling, testing, and simulations. Advanced analytical tools and collaborative capabilities are enabling companies to recover costs by customer preference management, discount targeting, effective pricing flexibility models, etc. Few airports also track their passenger cellphone locations for tailoring flight information and managing operations. A simple example would be analysing individual walking speeds to reduce security queues in real time using predictive analysis. Text message alerts for change in boarding information like departure gates or shopping suggestions using frequent flyer information can drastically impact business for airports and airlines.
- Developing data ecosystems – While the aviation industry is the first one to embrace technology, several digital initiatives are met with disdain because of the high cost of digital experiments and often low tangible value. Hence, engineers and scientists around the world are developing data ecosystems to back their digital initiatives with data-based decision making. They are also investing in flexible and scalable IT architectures to run operations and experiment. According to BCG, “Companies that excel in digital adoption deploy a fully flexible and scalable IT architecture that leverages the cloud and digital architecture. Because these companies gain the ability to scale their data infrastructure up or down as needed, they can reduce their data center operating costs and reinvest the savings in other digital initiatives.