Deep data: the beating heart of flight
Across engineering to maintenance to flight operations, Airbus is harnessing the power of deep, in-service data to support the digital transformation of the aerospace industry via its new aviation data platform, Skywise. Launched at the 2017 Paris Air Show, Skywise is a partnership between Airbus and big-data integration and advanced analytics pioneer Palantir Technologies.
It brings together data from multiple sources across the industry, including work orders, spares consumption, components data, aircraft/fleet configuration, on-board sensor data and flight schedules, into one secure cloud-based platform. Added to this are data sources that are traditionally shared with Airbus but hosted only on isolated servers. These include operational interruption history; parts replacements; post-flight reports; pilot reports; aircraft condition monitoring reports; complete onboard aircraft data; technical documentation; technical requests; and service bulletins.
These will be integrated into the platform to help operators of Airbus aircraft conduct their own analyses and make decisions based on the full scope of their available data. Supporting them will be the cumulative knowledge of 20,000 Airbus engineers who have tracked the performance of each individual aircraft over its entire operational life. Until now, this deep reservoir of expertise was accessible only during the years of an aircraft’s development and flight tests up until its entry into service.
Already in use by several early adopter airlines, Skywise aims to become the single, benchmark platform of reference used by all major aviation players to improve their operational performance and business results and to support their own digital transformation.
Ways in which Skywise could help airlines to support and shape their business models include:
- Improved fleet operational reliability through predictive and preventative maintenance;
- Improved operational efficiency for legacy fleets;
- Rapid root-cause analyses of in-service issues;
- Optimising each aircraft’s performance through flight operations data analytics;
- Tracking maintenance effectiveness over time;
- One-click reporting workflows, including complex reporting to regulatory bodies.
Airbus Digital Transformation Officer Marc Fontaine says: “Together with Palantir, we are already realising major business value from data previously hidden within our own operations. Now with Skywise we are taking this relationship to the next level by offering its advantages to the aviation industry. We’ve seen its power in our own operations, and Airbus is convinced of its huge potential to bring value to our customers and industry partners, as the new ‘beating heart of aviation.”
Palantir Technologies CEO Dr Alex Karp says the relationship with Airbus began with a focus on Airbus-internal operations — manufacturing, engineering, services — but is now expanding to bring the same analytical acumen directly to airlines. In the near future, the benefits of Skywise will also become available for Airbus helicopters, military aircraft, and other products. As Karp says, “The potential for collaboration between the world’s top engineering firm, Airbus, its airline customers, and Palantir’s software is unprecedented.”
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