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How Data Quality Can Make or Break an Airline Sustainability Program

How Data Quality Can Make or Break an Airline Sustainability Program

On a daily basis, there are a lot of efficiency requests that go through an airline. Chief pilots ask for better monitoring of crew performance, finance asks for lower fuel bills, and employees at all levels are asked to action on environmental and sustainability initiatives. Not all initiatives, however, reach a phase where they become implemented, measured, and elaborated. For fuel efficiency, some well-known initiatives are the exception; reduced flaps at landing or takeoff, single-engine taxi in or out, continuous descent and others can be applied to achieve efficiency goals. These initiatives are complex and interconnected, with little room for error or missed steps on their way to successful application. But what happens when an airline wants to think outside of the box? What if they want to push fuel costs and CO2 emissions even lower? Beyond initiatives, how can an airline identify and predict anomalies happening on a city pair? The fuel efficiency manager needs the right data to make the right call so that a potential can become a saving.

Data, data everywhere

In the 21st century, we live in a world where everything around us is data. It could be critical data or just data, lacking context or significance. Someone has to make the right call to distinguish between the two. Further, they need to identify how and where to harness this critical data. A decade ago, we identified the three main streams of data which are essential for having a fuel efficiency program: the flight scheduling system, the flight planning system, and the full flight data. The flight scheduling system provides the general overview of how the airline utilizes its fleet, what schedules it relies on and what tentative running costs are to be accumulated. The flight planning system narrows down the whole picture down to a single flight and how the OCC is foreseeing it will happen. Then, the full flight data obtained after the flight provides the potential to find what went well and what didn’t – and how they related to the initial plan. But that was more than then years ago. Those three streams are now the bare minimum, and fuel efficiency managers can rely on additional streams like ACARS, tech logs, water uplifts, ADS-B data, fuel uplift data, even invoices from ANSP or fuel providers.

This, however, leads to another problem. How can one pick the correct parameters and data streams that will do the ideal job for the current task? It is key for every fuel efficiency manager to know, in detail, how many of the completed flights have supplementary data for each different data stream and whether the input for a parameter is automatic or manual (e.g., MVT messages vs. pilot input for blockon/off actual times.). If the needed parameters are manually entered, the chance that an error can occur increases, compromising data integrity. This information is crucial when defining which is the most accurate source for a flight’s burned fuel or what its OOOI (Out, Off, On and In) times are. But too often, the data is insufficient, inaccurate or unable to be validated and verified by secondary sources.

Putting it together

Every parameter from each source that has implications for fuel efficiency, flight performance and even safety is categorized with its error rate and availability rate. The higher the data quality is, the more precise a fuel efficiency program can be within an airline. Ultimately, every fuel efficiency manager is striving to capture precise, correct data from each source for all flights. Unfortunately, the reality is that this is not always possible. That’s why there is a need for all the data to be consolidated, organized and prioritized. This allows them to identify the best data input for each parameter to yield an accurate and meaningful analysis, which is part of a complete dashboard for ground or air crews or other stakeholders.

But modern airlines can access terrabytes of data from hundreds of thousands of sources for each flight. Imagine trying to organize all this data manually for an airline with more than 100 tails in the fleet. This is an impossible task. Honeywell Forge Flight Efficiency offers a powerful solution that consolidates, organizes and prioritizes airline data in real time. It all starts with a sophisticated data quality algorithm containing more than 600 validation checks. The importance of those checks is to ensure that no erroneous data slips through or tarnishes other data points. The data quality engine verifies the data by cross-checking the same data type from different sources, verifying every single piece of data against preset thresholds, and even comparing different parameters which relate to one another.

Once the data successfully passes all data quality checks, it is organized by parameter and prioritized based on the data sources supplying that parameter. For example, if the RFDM values for on/off block times are available, the system will display those first, since QAR data from the scheduling system is based on manual entry. Or it can be the case that fuel tanks values are not very reliable; so the same data from a more reliable source such as Loadsheet or Fuel uplift will be prioritized and showed first. This is applicable for many more parameters following the general rule of a funnel – you feed in data from all possible sources on and off the aircraft, and the funnel distills and prioritizes this information to display the most reliable and accurate on the other side.

A single source of truth

In today’s digital world, businesses have countless systems, processes and mechanisms designed to improve daily operations. From the top of the data funnel to the output at the bottom, the path is often filled with disparate systems, manual processes and critical choices to be made at each step. Having complete, clean and transparent data is crucial – not only for airline fuel efficiency, but for achieving compliance within any highly- regulated business such as commercial aviation. The right decisions and actions require reliable data to achieve successful outcomes, be it on-time operations, fuel savings, reduced carbon emissions, or another organizational goal. Of course, on this data journey full of unknowns, it’s always better to have a reliable partner on your side to simplify and streamline the data management process. Visit Honeywell Forge Flight Efficiency to learn more and request a demo for your operation.

Zlati Petkov

Zlati Petkov is a Customer Success Manager for Honeywell Forge Flight Efficiency, with experience as a commercial pilot prior to Honeywell.