Connectivity & Data Management

The advancement of wireless technology has spurred the development of the internet of things, in which many devices are being connected to the internet and are able to access information previously unavailable. Airplanes have joined this trend with the advent of servers and electronic flight bags (EFB). These devices allow the airplane to become a node in the operator’s network that is accessible and can exchange information in real time.

Systems on board airplanes produce significant amounts of data throughout each flight. However the data is confined to the airplane and downloaded through a labor intensive process only when needed. Today onboard servers and EFB allow the operators to quickly download the airplane data. For example maintenance information can be easily downloaded, allowing the operator to perform preventive maintenance and improve the availability of the airplane. Furthermore the connectivity to the internet allows the crew to access real time information previously unavailable, from weather to updated flight planning information, giving them the capability to further optimize their routing and increase the comfort and safety of the passengers.

The benefits of airplane connectivity are not confined onboard. The operation center benefits from the connectivity, decreasing the time it takes to perform several operations, from database loading to simply knowing the details of the current airplane configuration.

The connectivity to the internet is however a two-way pipeline and it carries security risks with it. Modern onboard servers allow the operator to firewall the airplane from external risks, diminishing the downsides of the onboard use of the internet.

As the airplane becomes a more and more integrated piece of the operator network, additional functions will be added to make the airplane a flying node in the overall customer operations.

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