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Trends shaping aerospace in 2020
2019 saw new commercial aircraft deliveries decline for the first time in more than a
decade. This was caused by the grounding and subsequent production delays on certain aircraft models. Saying
that, the overall outlook for the industry is looking strong with a backlog of ~14,000 orders to be fulfilled.
As for the fleet of commercial aircraft being operated today, more than half of them
are over ten years old. As older aircraft need more repairs and overall maintenance, this creates a strong
commercial MRO market.Overall, this makes for a strong and vibrant marketplace for companies working with
and in the commercial aerospace market. To get a better understanding on what’s happening in the industry, we at
Axinom have compiled a list of five trends that we see shaping the industry in 2020 and beyond.
Cloud adaption in the airline industry started out as a cost-cutting measure.
On-premise data centers were getting more and more expensive as the amount of data generated and stored
ballooned. The cloud was a cost-effective solution to that problem.Slowly but surely cloud adaption matured and airlines started updating and building
their core systems with cloud capabilities in mind and not just using it for cheap storage. As more and more
airline services were brought to the cloud, it started opening up new opportunities and possibilities.Perhaps the biggest one being the ability to seamlessly connect services together and
securely share data between them. This is facilitated through the use of web-based APIs (Application Programming
Interfaces). These are interfaces through which interactions happen between an enterprise and applications that
use its assets.Airlines that are able to successfully migrate to a world of applications and APIs
that connect them will be best positioned for the future. Exponential value can be achieved by leveraging the
cloud ecosystem, where SaaS and best of breed apps seamlessly connect operations using APIs with that of their
vendors, partners, and customers.
“Airlines that are able to successfully migrate to a world of applications and APIs
that connect them will be best positioned for the future.”
Airlines have been steadily decreasing the use of paper-based documentation and
tickets for years. Electronic flight bags and the use of online self-check-in and mobile tickets are nothing
new.What is new is aircraft maintenance and other vital documentation going paperless and
using digital-only systems. Digital signatures in technical operations, electronic airworthiness compliance
support, electronic maintenance records, etc.This not only saves the environment by using less paper and ink for printing but can
also lead to quicker turn-around time in cases of maintenance and repair as electronic information is instantly
available and thus can be used to predict when certain parts need refurbishment or replacement
AirPassengers expect to be connected to the internet 24/7, but in-flight connectivity
is expensive and so airlines are being creative to make the costs up somewhere else.It can be used as an up-sell for premium cabin classes, on a free-trial basis (15
minutes free, then pay), for free as differentiation strategy from other airlines, etc. Luckily, the prices for
connectivity are decreasing and this is enabling different strategies to flourish. For example, live TV on
aircraft.Another trend gaining more popularity is that of BYOD or Bring Your Own Device - more
and more customers want to use their own devices while on-board an aircraft for browsing the internet and
entertainment content In return, they expect airline IFE solutions to work not only in the seatback screen but
also on their own device.This creates an opportunity for airlines to drive ancillary revenue through
personalized ads, in-flight e-commerce, and pre-booking on-ground services like taxis, hotels, entrance tickets
among others.All this device usage also creates data. A lot of data and usage statistics that can be
used for analysis and service improvements.
Standardization in Data and Services
Aircraft generate a lot of data. Data that, until now, has largely lived in silos
disconnected from each other. These data could be used for predictive maintenance, better IFE experiences and a
lot more. The key is standardizing the data so that different services and applications could use it.To some extent, this is being done through the used of web-based APIs that are used
to connect and sync data between different services and core systems.Moreover, data standardization and wide-spread use of APIs will lead to more
companies to enter the aviation market with new and innovative offers and solutions. In turn, this will lead to
established players in aviation coming up with new and better services of their own to compete and not lose
market share. Win-win.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
AI and machine learning are buzzwords that are being used everywhere it seems. If
you’re a technology company, it’s almost a requirement for success that you use AI in some shape or form.
Buzzwords aside, these new technologies can actually be useful and help control costs in aviation.Take aircraft maintenance as an example. Aircraft over ten years old makeup more than
half of current fleets, increasing the need for maintenance and contributing to an estimated $76 billion global
commercial MRO market in 2019. AI and machine learning-powered predictive maintenance can be used to:
Rare Failure Prediction
Find and diagnose structural defects and damages
Detect possible damage on impact with a variety of wildlife
Monitor aircraft structural health
Automatically detect anomalies and diagnose faults
Detect damage location
Additionally, AI can be used to use fuel more efficiently. In aviation, fuel use is
at it’s highest during the climbing stage and how much is exactly used depends largely on the technique used by
the pilots. AI can be used to analyze fuel use on a per aircraft model and pilot to create climbing stage
profiles. These can then be used to teach pilots on the most efficient profiles.On the passenger side, it can be used in customer service (chatbots) and ancillary
revenue generation (dynamic ads, e-commerce, pre-loaded content) to name a few. As technology matures, more and
more possibilities will open up.
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