Andrew Barnett, FlightTrak, explains: “SpriteAero is an Internet of Sensing technology. We have sniffers which sample the air, wirelessly transmit that technology to central hubs and then to our servers, so that we can monitor air quality in all sorts of environments. And in particular, in aircraft environment.
“There's a passenger component – the quality of the cabin environment, particularly on long haul, is important to the passengers for their comfort. But equally there is a chance of some noxious, potentially harmful gases emanating from various things. In the past, that has not been something that's been monitored.
"We've now got the technology that we can implement on aircraft to be able to pick that up.”
The system can detect: NH3 (ammonia); nitrogen oxides (NOx); alcohol; benzene; smoke; CO2; ozone; Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG); methane; hydrogen; hydrogen sulphide; and tricresyl phosphate (TCP).
As with many IoT technologies, the applications of the sensors and data are constantly evolving, based on customer needs.
Barnett says: “We can integrate it with cabin temperature or humidity. We can monitor the passenger movement on each one of the seats so we can identify when we've got agitated passengers or potentially unwell passengers. In the not-too-distant future, there may be a chance that we can hook into Fitbit or Apple watches to do that."
The system could also be used, for example, to highlight overuse of seats to maintenance crews, to give them an indication of when and where seats need replacing.
FliteTrak’s technology has been operational in the rail sector since 2012 for reliability monitoring and predictive maintenance, but the company believes its implementation in aerospace is a world first. In the future, it could be applied to numerous different sectors.