What does the connected aviation ecosystem really mean?

Built on the same premise is the connected aviation ecosystem – where passenger experiences, aircraft, airport operations and air traffic management are all connected together. And when we break this down a bit further, we can see more clearly how these connections all play a role in improving the passenger experience, sustainability, operational efficiency and more.  

Connected aviation ecosystem

Let’s start with the connected aviation ecosystem. This concept visualizes an aviation industry where all participants – airlines, airports, air traffic management, support services and even passengers – are seamlessly linked together, optimizing airport operations and enhancing the air travel experience.

“At its core, the connected aviation ecosystem is comprised of many parts – and speaks to the billions of data points flowing through the aircraft, ground operations and airport,” said Jennifer Schopfer, president of Connected Aviation Solutions for Collins Aerospace.

Within the connected aviation ecosystem, airlines, airports, air traffic management, support services and passengers are seamlessly linked together to optimize airport operations and enhance the air travel experience.

“The key to connected aviation is connectivity and access to data and analytics. How does data make flights more efficient and more reliable and how does it help break down silos for greater airport, airline and airspace optimization?”

From the inner workings of an airport and the surrounding airspace to the information going back and forth from the flight deck to the airline operations center, aviation runs on data. Collins Aerospace is helping customers build a better aviation ecosystem by providing them with the comprehensive power to predict, analyze and optimize. Opportunities to maximize reliability and reduce costs are made possible when customers can connect, interpret and enable decisions from information that flows across the aircraft, airline and airspace. 

“Via the connected aviation ecosystem, airlines, airports, crews and passengers can all enjoy a connected and seamless journey from the airport onto the plane and throughout flight,” Schopfer said.

“By automating data generated from onboard hardware, air-to-ground connectivity and all the ground and airborne applications, airlines can harness new information to make flying and real-time decisions better than ever before.”

Connected aircraft

The connected aircraft sends and receives data to and from its systems and components so that data can be shared for analytical purposes. Today, intelligent aircraft across commercial and business aviation generate significantly more performance data than their predecessors, which can translate to improved data sharing across an airline’s entire operational footprint, including the flight deck, network operations, airports and gate usage. Many of the benefits directly impact crew and aircraft scheduling, flight optimization and planning, equipment and gate tracking, and more.

Data coming off the aircraft can include anything from component performance to required part maintenance, which means more proactive repairs and upkeep. For pilots and aircraft operators, the ability to understand and seamlessly integrate into their tools and workflows can improve operations by saving time and fuel. The connected aircraft has become a cornerstone for airline sustainability and performance capabilities.

A connected aircraft sends and receives data to and from its systems and components so that data can be shared for analytical purposes.

The value of the connected aircraft comes from both nose-to-tail hardware solutions in addition to turnkey connectivity solutions. FlightAware’s Foresight brings flight tracking and analysis of hundreds of thousands of flights in the air, en route and on the ground using machine learning models. When that flow of digital data is seamlessly united across the aircraft, airline and ground applications, it results in more real-time information getting to the right sources at the right time. For ground crews, knowing exactly when an aircraft will land for improved gate arrivals and turnaround times is essential. And for passengers, it means an improved flying experience.

Collins provides an extensive package of solutions that can further the connected aircraft, including onboard hardware, air-to-ground connectivity, as well as ground and airborne applications.

Connected airport

The connected aviation ecosystem doesn’t stop with airlines and airplanes. Airports are also brimming with data. There’s data generated by passengers – each with unique itineraries, checkpoints and baggage to process. There’s data generated by aircraft as flights arrive, taxi and depart on every runway. And there’s data generated from airport operations and support functions, including logistics and resource planning, air traffic control and security.

Collins is helping connected airports securely capture, organize and aggregate that data into meaningful streams of information that ensure a more dynamic aviation ecosystem. Using this data, Collins can help make air travel more reliable and seamless for passengers and more efficient for airport and airline stakeholders.

A connected airport can securely capture, organize and aggregate data from flight arrivals/departures, logistics, air traffic control for more meaningful streams of information to ensure a more dynamic aviation ecosystem.

For passengers, data can be used to streamline the curb-to-curb passenger experience, including check-in, bag-drop, security screening and boarding. Collins' SelfPass™ facial recognition solution supports each of these areas and eliminates the hassle of showing boarding passes and passports for a more positive passenger experience.

For airlines, data can also be leveraged to help accelerate aircraft turnarounds, improve aircraft maintenance diagnostics, ensure flight path optimization and improve air traffic management systems. All these enhancements work together to help reimagine the airport of the future and provide more real-time flight information to passengers and airlines alike.

“At Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, we installed 17 SelfPass biometrically automated self-boarding gates,” said Schopfer. “For an A350 with more than 300 passengers, SelfPass enabled boarding is being completed in as little as 23 minutes.”

Air Traffic Management

Aircraft take-off, landing and the airspace in between also make-up the connected aviation ecosystem. The volume of air traffic continues to rise from commercial and business aviation. In addition to this, as autonomous vehicles, satellite launches, drones and more enter the skies, Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) around the world are challenged to not only expand airspace capacity to accommodate congestion but also maintain a shared network between each of these stakeholders.

With Air Traffic Flow Management, connected systems help aircraft take off, land and move safely and seamlessly through airspace.

Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) and intelligent digital communications that connect everything in the sky with ground systems are exactly what Collins Aerospace is exploring to shape future air travel. With ATFM in place, air traffic controllers can readily see aircraft position and location data, giving them a more accurate view of what is traveling through the air at any point in time. And when air traffic controllers can digitally sequence aircraft arrivals and departures or manage airspace during a space launch, passengers will see air travel improvements in taxi times and flight durations.

In the world of aviation, data is everywhere.

“Helping airlines and airports harness data via connected aircraft and airports is essential to improving operational efficiency, delivering a more reliable and enjoyable passenger experience and bringing a more sustainable future to the aerospace industry,” according to Schopfer. “Times like these require creative, innovative solutions, and that’s exactly what our full-stack of digital solutions are enabling, to further connect the aviation ecosystem like never before.”

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