The aviation industry is all about making connections. Whether it’s flying passengers to their destinations or carrying cargo through the supply chain, aircraft are essential for connecting people and commerce. Airlines and maintenance repair operations also are looking for ways to increase connections within their operations in order to improve efficiency and service. In recent years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has emerged as a powerful tool used to accomplish this.
Simply put, IoT is the framework for smart devices — which aren’t computers in the traditional sense — to send and receive information over the Internet. For example, farmers can utilize IoT to plot out the routes their tractors take across their fields. Homeowners can use it to control their lights, home entertainment systems and appliances from a single dashboard. This smart technology also is being utilized across the aviation sector. Here are some industry operations that are being transformed by IoT.
Maintenance —By collecting and sharing data about their flights, modern planes can tell crews when they experience mechanical problems long before any symptoms manifest. This means maintenance and repair technicians can be deployed with exceptional efficiency. By being quickly armed with this data, workers can resolve issues and keep equipment in the sky with minimal delays. Manufacturers also can use this information for predicting demand for components. When they know certain parts are reaching the end of their lifespan, they can be better prepared to meet the need quickly and decisively.
Cargo and Baggage —The ability to track items in real time with RFID tagging has significant ramifications for cargo and baggage handling. Carriers can provide customers with up-to-the-minute updates about the status of their shipments. Airlines can give passengers peace of mind by showing them where their luggage is through a smartphone app. This limits lost items and cuts down on the amount of time travelers spend waiting for their bags to appear on the carousel.
Fuel Efficiency — Conserving fuel is one of the greatest concerns for airlines. Fortunately, IoT provides another weapon in their arsenal against waste. It allows them to stick to the most efficient routes with greater precision, virtually eliminating variances. It also provides operators with instant information about how equipment and resources are being used, giving them a chance to quickly correct any issues.
Passenger Experience — When virtually every aspect of air travel is connected and providing data, the potential to improve the experience for travelers is increased. They may be able to order drinks or snacks from their seats, see exactly how much space is left in the overhead bins or even check if there’s a wait for the restroom. Anything that can make flying more convenient and less stressful can be a powerful differentiator in the highly competitive airline market.
Connecting people, places and things is the mission of the aviation sector. When the equipment and systems it relies on are connected through the Internet, the door is opened to new efficiencies and experiences for all involved. Author bio: Allen Jones is Chief Operating Officer of National Aero Stands, a world leader in engine stand leasing — founded with the purpose of providing aircraft engine transportation stand support. Jones, who has more than 20 years of experience in the industry, currently oversees daily business and leasing operations.