Connected aircraft: Tapping the “next goldmine”

Data is the “next goldmine”, David Lavorel, CEO, SitaOnAir, said recently – but only if the industry can agree the right business models, organise the data and streamline technology.

Lavorel said: “Aircraft have been connected for quite a while. Today, we see that we really have a nose-to-tail experience on connectivity, and that spans through the overall journey of the flight. Pre-flight, where the Captain is receiving information from the ground. At the greetings at the door, where increasingly the crew is going to get information from their CRM (customer relationship management) system and greet you. Then, during the flight experience, where pilots are going to enjoy connected applications, weather updates, links with the dispatcher on the ground. And passengers enjoy the full reality of connected experience, like on the ground."

The “next goldmine”

So that’s where we are now. What opportunities are still left to tap?

“There are a wealth of opportunities in front of us,” Lavorel said. “Generally, I think commercialisation and e-commerce is a big untapped domain that will be unleashed through connectivity. Obviously, there are other benefits of an operational nature for the airlines that a connected aircraft can realise.”

On the main challenges to tapping those opportunities, Lavorel said: “One, generally [is that] access to the data is fairly fragmented in the industry. And data is going to be the next goldmine of the industry.

“Second, I believe that there are business models and 'competing between partners' issues, in that everybody wants to exploit that goldmine, and carriers, airline operators, need to decide how they want to share that. And finally, there is technology fragmentation."

What’s next?

Looking ahead to the future, Lavorel said: “I think from a cockpit perspective, with the advance of broadband pipes, there's going to be an increasingly connected experience between the pilots and the ground dispatch environment. Pilots working more and more hand in hand with the ground, supporting new decisions, being able to make a more seamless flight experience for the cabin.

“In the cabin, I believe we're going to [see] a more tailored experience for the passengers, both from an interaction standpoint but probably also the cabin itself – turning it into an Internet of Things environment.

"Finally I think the big debate or the big next battle is going to be around sharing the value that is unleashed by connectivity and how airlines decide to share the monetisation of passengers in between their operating partners, as well as internet giants who are going to come into the cabin.”

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