Airlines Push Connectivity Beyond the Cabin

An airplane on the ground doesn’t make any money, the old saying goes, and investment in keeping your fleet aloft is money well spent. Airline executives are realizing that connectivity is key to reducing turn-around time and shrinking maintenance expense.

We surveyed more than 100 technology decision-makers across the airline industry. The results of the Honeywell Connected Aircraft Report makes clear three key takeaways:

  • Connectivity is a must-have investment for commercial airlines, OEMs and maintainers.
  • Predictive maintenance is the next frontier of connected technologies.
  • The connectivity investment per aircraft is expected to rise significantly in the next five years.

How can you use connected technology to boost your bottom line? Here’s what your colleagues and competitors are thinking.


Connectivity is a must-have

Connectivity – and the analytic insight it allows – are the future of the aviation industry. Far more than just enhancing in-cabin experience, its value is becoming apparent across the entire aircraft. Our survey respondents said connectivity reduces costs and increases revenues.

Fully two-thirds of the people we surveyed – 67% – said they expected connectivity-related products and technology to save operating expenses. They believe it enough that they’re acting now: 62% of them said they are “extremely or very likely” to buy new connected-related technology in the next year, and 89% in the next five years.

That means being able to predict when a part will fail, so it can be maintained during routine maintenance instead of at the gate, which hurts passenger experiences and risks a cascade of delays. It means offering real-time on-board inventory to tell caterers how much of what kind of supplies need restocking, and giving airlines the ability to better manage fuel expense.

Airline executives – not just CEOs, but operational decision-makers across the business – increasingly recognize that investments in data and connectivity quickly flow to the bottom line. Connectivity lets you cut costs while improving operational efficiency and passenger experience. That gives you a strategic edge.

As a maintenance executive at a passenger airline put it,

“The potential is there to solve nearly all problems using connectivity.”


Preventive maintenance increases productivity and reduces costs

Predictive maintenance is the main target of upcoming expenditures. It was cited as “extremely important” to 55% of the survey’s respondents. It’s their top day-to-day challenge; if maintenance teams can use connected technologies to anticipate failures rather than react to them, problems can be remedied in advance during planned downtime, instead of delaying (or canceling) flights.

“I would like to have an online tool,” said one respondent, at an aircraft manufacturing partner, “to ascertain which components will fail in due time so that maintenance of aircraft and components can be planable and predictable. This saves time and money for every passenger at the end.”

“On-time performance is highly important,” said a fleet management executive at a passenger airline.

“If we can use connectivity to send predictive maintenance data to engineering before components fail, then this will protect the on-time performance of the operation.”

Quick turnaround times are critical to a profitable airline. A connected airplane can advise ground crews in real-time how much fuel it will need to take on, what catering will be required for the next leg, how much luggage needs to be sent to the terminal and how much to connecting flights. Furthermore, early and accurate information about delays can be relayed to customers, keeping them informed, if not always happy.

“Having our aircraft connected to the internet reaps benefits in reduced costs for the airline and increases passenger expectations on our services,” a passenger experience executive said. “It’s a win-win situation for the airline.”


Connected investment on the horizon

Airlines are investing today in improved connectivity, and are preparing to invest even more. Over the next year, 58% of survey participants said they are likely to spend more money on connected technologies for preventive maintenance. 44% said they would spend on cabin Wi-Fi, 42% on flight crew mobile apps, and 30% on cockpit communications. And 20% of respondents expected to spend more than $1 million per aircraft. Three out of five of those surveyed said that’s more than their current investment.

On the five-year horizon, 69% of respondents said they expect to spend more on connected technology than they do today; 38% of them said they expect to spend more than $1 million per aircraft – and nearly half of those said they expected to spend more than $10 million.

That expenditure comes with expectations. Two-thirds of the people we asked told us they expected connectivity-related technologies would reduce costs over the next year, and 61% of those surveyed expected an ROI of 3 years or less – 33% in under 18 months.


Honeywell experts drive results

Honeywell Connected Aircraft is a worldwide leader in integrated avionics and connected solutions for aircraft manufacturers, airlines, business and general aviation, and airport operations. We build on more than 100 years of aviation, defense, and space expertise, with a track record of serving 500 airports around the world.

Our connected aircraft solutions optimize operational efficiency, increasing the productivity and return on critical assets. With a presence on nearly every aircraft in the world and with edge solutions already in place, we can be trusted to install certified, high-quality appliances and to move data to and from the aircraft.

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