If you have flown recently, you may have noticed the passenger experience on an airplane is quickly changing. Gone are the days where reading a good book and chatting up the person next to you were your only options to pass the time between take-off and landing.
Today, a passenger’s experience on an airplane has evolved into a multimedia world of turning on a mobile device to watch TV, checking e-mail or getting updates on family and friends via social networks. But having a great passenger experience is more than just streaming content and checking Twitter. The full passenger experience is about using connectivity outside of the cabin to improve passenger comfort and safety by helping pilots make better decisions in-flight, using data to make airplanes smarter, ensuring on-time departures and more.
Reducing Delays with Connected Maintenance
Passengers dread the potential of delayed flights more than slow Wi-Fi. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics noted that in 2014, more than 30% of total delay minutes were attributed to circumstances within the airline’s control, like maintenance.
Some delays are outside their control: things like air traffic control and weather. Imagine if there was a way to reduce the number of mechanical delays, making sure you get to your destination safely and on time. When you add connectivity to the mix, there is!
Maintenance crews and the airlines can get advanced warning of potential issues before they happen when mechanical components like brakes, engines and auxiliary power units are all connected. This means maintenance teams can be mobilized and dispatched, and parts can be shipped, before a mechanical delay ever happens. The result is smarter, predictive maintenance schedules for airlines and operators, and on-time arrivals for passengers.
Connecting Pilots for Better Information
Passengers often might not consider a pilot’s need for connectivity, but it is a critical service to helping the passenger’s experience on the flight.
Most notably, connectivity for the cockpit will play a significant role with flight operations, making it possible to do things like share updates on weather conditions along planned flight paths and offer real-time weather updates. This includes using information from the aircraft on the wind or speed to help prioritize the flight plan to avoid turbulence and increase fuel savings.
The FAA says in-flight turbulence causes more injuries in the air than anything else. Avoiding severe weather is a priority for pilots, passengers and aircraft operators. This is especially important as winter weather-causing delays and cancellations cost an estimated $6 billion each year.
Planes currently have weather radar installed on them, but the radar only shows activity up to 360 miles away. It’s great for real-time decisions about avoiding turbulence or bad storms, but doesn’t give a pilot the full view of weather on the entire flight. So, if a pilot wants to look 1,000 miles ahead on their trip to get a view of the weather, they must rely on hour’s old print-outs, or radio to air traffic control or their company to see if there’s an update. With connectivity, advanced weather technology will not only give pilots better information, but ultimately improve passenger comfort.
Another benefit? Seeing weather from different altitudes helps pilots maximize the flight trajectory, reducing flight time, fuel consumption and costs for airlines.
Looking Ahead to Data-Driven Decisions
Modern aircraft are lean, mean, data-generating machines. A single flight creates as much as 500 gigabytes of data. Surprisingly, most of it goes unused and unanalyzed. Providing connectivity to the aircraft can create enormous possibilities and new technologies that could unlock this data and make the passenger’s experience better all around.
The aerospace industry is quickly approaching a transformation brought about by access to and the availability of massive amounts of data. Just as people are wearing smartwatches to track personal metrics like exercise, heart rate and diet – live-data for aircraft components will allow pilots and maintenance operators to more accurately and quickly determine measures to keep aircraft healthy and efficient. Imagine no more diverting to different cities based on maintenance needs or delays caused by bad weather. Honeywell is working to make this vision a reality because when passengers, pilots and maintenance operations are connected, it’s smooth flying for all.
Featured Author: Carl Esposito
Vice President, Marketing & Product Management
Carl Esposito leads strategic planning, product marketing, product management (M&PM) and marketing communications for Honeywell Aerospace.
Using industry modeling and forecasting, business strategy, customer listening, value proposition development, technology roadmaps, product life cycle plans, and marketing communications, Honeywell’s M&PM manages the broadest product portfolio in the industry.