Industry consultants say airlines should take advantage of new cloud-based tools to help prevent the recent disruption caused by Southwest Airlines’ use of outdated and siled technology. and the Federal Aviation Administration.
These tools, some from startups, have the potential to make airline systems more automated, reducing reliance on older technology that requires manual updates and is increasingly expensive to maintain, airline industry consultants say.
The Southwest and FAA debacles were separated by weeks because of flawed systems in planned upgrades — underscoring the urgent need to prioritize efforts to modernize those systems, and the consequences of waiting to do so, advisers say .
While wholesale new information technology infrastructure from scratch may not be practical, the industry should take advantage of cloud-based tools that integrate the real-time data that drives airline operations, consultants said.
Newer, cloud-based infrastructures and databases can scale horizontally—meaning they can take advantage of distributed computing resources on the Internet as needed. This design allows information to flow more freely, reducing the likelihood of failures causing system-wide shutdowns. Older legacy systems are limited by available computing power.
The FAA estimates that the cost of U.S. flight delays totaled $33 billion in 2019, the latest year for which data is available. According to market research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, digital solutions can cut the cost of disrupted operations by roughly half, making airline disruption management a growth opportunity for technology providers.
Couchbase headquartered in Santa Clara, California company,
Formed in 2011, said to help United Airlines Holdings company
Modernize operations by providing a cloud-based database for its crew scheduling software.
Ravi Mayuram, Couchbase’s chief technology officer, said United uses mainframe computers and other database systems to run functions such as reservations, pricing, baggage tracking and aircraft loading. Those mainframes weren’t exchanging data, or simply, “the left hand wasn’t talking to the right hand,” Mr. Cook said. Mayuram said. United declined to comment on its operational technology.
Unlike its previous system, United’s new program, based on Couchbase database technology, can now scale up or down based on peaks in usage or demand, and is not limited to the geographic region where its mainframe is located, Mr. Mayuram said.
Airlines generate vast amounts of data each year from their aircraft, passengers, suppliers and internal operations. Robert Beuerlein, principal aerospace consultant at Frost & Sullivan, said connecting data points from disparate systems — as United Airlines is doing — will help airlines train AI-driven systems that can free up predictive maintenance and passenger maintenance. The biggest leap forward and defense in innovations like personalization.
Gurobi Optimization LLC, a company that develops mathematical optimization software for industries including aviation, said it provides optimization technology to airlines such as Air France-KLM.
Gurobi said Air France-KLM is using its software to power its decision-support tool, which recommends optimal flight and aircraft allocations, taking into account constraints such as fuel consumption and aircraft flight times.
Gurobi’s chief scientist, Dr. Edward Rothberg, said that while optimization solutions have existed for decades, the company has applied new mathematical techniques to arrive at results more quickly.
Barcelona-based start-up Big Blue Analytics similarly uses techniques such as linear programming to solve optimization problems such as aircraft allocation. The company also aims to create an integrated platform that finds solutions for flights, aircraft, maintenance, crew and passenger journeys all at once, rather than sequentially as in the current system, CEO Pau Collellmir said.
The startup’s clients include Spanish low-cost carrier Volotea, which has a fleet of 41 aircraft. Collellmir said the company is trying to help with the operational challenges of large airlines such as Southwest Airlines that operate more than 700 planes. “The only way to solve the problem with the exponential growth in the number of aircraft is to start with a small airline,” he said.
However, even if better technical solutions exist, they will be difficult to implement, industry consultants say.
“Government in general has the same problem as industry in that the systems are outdated and modernizing them is a pain, both in terms of money and time,” said Ira Gershkoff, principal consultant at Travel, an airline IT consulting and research firm. Aspects.” Technology Research Ltd.
For decades, the aviation IT market has been dominated by a few big players, including Amadeus IT Group SA,
TravelSky Technology limited company
and Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques, or SITA.In addition to startups, aircraft and engine makers such as Boeing company
Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC and General Electric company
It is also developing its own portfolio of digital solutions.
“The backbone is the technology from the 1960s that somehow underpins everything and makes it work, so it can be difficult for new entrants to learn and understand that, and similarly, it can be difficult for us to embrace new ways of thinking,” Sherry said Stein, head of technology for the Americas at Switzerland-based SITA.
Mrs. The IT vendor, which is owned by airlines, airports and their suppliers, is now publishing application programming interfaces, or APIs, with the goal of bringing more developers into its community and promoting a historically reluctant industry, Stein said. The openness of the industry to share data with competitors. SITA said its API, which allows software programs to exchange data, has been used to create smart applications for airlines and airport operations such as gate changes and passenger flow.
“It’s part of our development ethos,” she said. Stan said. “I want everyone to follow the same principles.”
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