GIS for Aviation Industry — Geospatial IT

History of Aviation Industry in India

Aviation in India started back in December 1912 with first domestic route between Karachi and Delhi operated by Imperial Airways; a UK based company. In 1915, three years later, Tata Sons Ltd., the first private Indian airline started its airmail service operations on Karachi-Madras route. By 1948 India had nine air transport companies operating across major cities carrying both cargo and passengers.

Post independence in 1953, Indian government passed the Air Corporations Act to nationalize entire aviation industry. With the legal framework in place, somewhat inherited from United Kingdom, two national airline companies were formed to cater to International and domestic markets, Air India and Indian Airline Corporation. While Air India took on the international routes which was fully owned and operated by Indian Government, Indian Airlines Corporation was a merger of eight pre-independence airline companies, also branded as “Indian” for some time.

These two Government owned airlines dominated the Indian aviation industry until 1990, by then India adopted open sky policy to allow private sector companies to operate.

Today’s Aviation Industry in India

The Aviation industry in India is evolving in line with global levels with commoditization and outreach of Aviation services to masses. Indian Aviation industry is growing rapidly at 18% (CAGR) and 75% of the market is dominated by private airlines/carriers.

Over the last decade Indian Aviation industry has changed from closed, poorly managed and over-regulated industry to open, liberalized, and investor friendly. There are bunch of stats available regarding the market size and latest commercials, one of the prominent ones is from KPMG report which finds Indian aviation industry among the top 10 globally. Government as per the recent budget plans to spend $12.1 billion on the growth of the Indian aviation industry and has offered 100% FDI in Greenfield projects.

Indian aviation industry supports 56.6 million jobs and contributes to 0.5% of India’s GDP. With these aggressive, ambitious government policies and private sector partnerships Indian aviation market is projected to become third largest aviation market by 2020 in terms of volume and revenue.

Indian Aviation industry is well regulated by government inspite of being open and liberalized mainly due its huge scale and robustness. I think definitely, it provides plenty of opportunities for usage of GIS and Information Technology with its current state of challenges and process of evolving in line with global levels.

Challenges of Aviation Industry in India

Indian Aviation industry is massive due to its cultural and geographical diversity. It offers enormous opportunities but at the same time it has suffered in terms of growth and has some unique challenges to be addressed. Here is the list of some of the challenges of this industry:

·Lack of adequate aviation infrastructure, aviation industry growth rate is much higher than infrastructure development

·Government policies and their enforcement in real terms of liberalization, FDI utilization and investor friendliness

·High operational costs mainly due to high fuel prices, lack of volume to accommodate the cost and effective or proactive operations management

·Declining safety ranking because of regulatory oversight and lack of or inadequate Maintenance Repairs and Overhauls (MRO) resources as compared to its growth prospects

·Lack of high end and affordable surveillance systems for airports

·Lack of required get-up-and-go mindset in Public Private Partnership for the growth of this industry

·Lack of integrated, customized IT and GIS systems to research, plan and manage aviation assets and resources

·Inadequate improvisation in Quality of services in domestic and international routes

The elaborated list of challenges could be many more but for the scope of this white paper, let us consider three of the above key challenges of this Industry.

How IT and GIS can address these challenges

Information Technology and GIS makes use of computer, software and data to help Aviation Industry stakeholders identify and visualize market trends, patterns, opportunities, threats which otherwise may not be possible with data on paper and in tabular formats. IT and GIS can make value addition to Aviation Industry in big way for making it better and capitalize on its growth prospects!

Lack of adequate aviation infrastructure

This is a unique challenge for Indian Aviation Industry which can be addressed by adopting holistic and progressive development approach.

Information technology and GIS solutions can be of help for research and analytics of existing industry footprint and roadmap for development. Infrastructure supporting Aviation industry can be designed, planned, provisioned and maintained by usage of GIS and IT systems, for example integrated Facilities Management or Asset management for Airports.

Aviation, Hospitality and Travel industry Information combined with spatial data needs to be digitized (say for example creating/acquiring data from census or private firms for satellite data). GIS enabled IT solutions will enhance the ability of stakeholders of this industry to plan, build infrastructure, facilities, distribution, quality standards, security and innovation in their business.

The information/data can be used to build GIS enabled IT solutions to address this challenge. These solutions can be but not limited to one of the following:

·Integrated GIS, CAD and Planning applications for Regulators to do air space planning, routing and other research activities for continuous improvements to promote aviation industry growth as well as safety

·GIS applications for Airport Layout Planning as COTS product which can used by private and government stakeholders

·GIS applications for Lease Management, Capacity Planning, Construction Management

·Online GIS enabled Information Portal for public domain to contribute in the process of airport and other aviation infrastructure development, maintain the awareness of environmental and social impact of aviation hazards

Government policies and their implementations

The challenge is not unique to Aviation Industry in India but applicable globally in developing countries.

The aviation regulating government organizations are struggling to meet the global operational standards and we do not know if they have right set of policies, framework, spatial data and governance processes such as FAA in USA has.

This challenge can be addressed by adopting Information Technology and GIS Solutions to improve performance in line with global levels. Implementation, Applicability and Effectiveness of Government policies can be analyzed with help of geospatial and other business data.

Geographical data influences and connects society, culture, lifestyle and business, government policies needs to use this information to keep their policies updated and manage to get more transparency in day-to-day aviation operations.

The business data and geographic data can be used to develop GIS enabled solutions which can answer many business queries and concerns. The government policies can be aligned and updated to address these concerns.

The list of GIS enabled solutions can be but not limited to the following:

·Integrated GIS and Policy Management Systems

·GIS application for Aviation industry footprint modeling and managing growth with more technical insights such as automated expansion planning and design reviews

·GIS application for Data Management and Repository to maintain spatial standards at national level

·eGovernance portals for sharing policy information to Aviation and Hospitality industry stakeholders

High operational costs and decline in air travel safety

This challenge is applicable to developing countries where Information Technology, GIS and Aviation industry expertise is not available at require scale.

Usage of Information Technology and GIS can be used take holistic view of the Aviation Industry and address the areas for digitization and automation. The geospatial and business data can be used to design, plan and implement safety regulations with required transparency.

The higher operational costs are due to many factors such as fuel prices, lack of sustainable airport infrastructure, lack of revenue generation model, lack of or inadequate use of technologies to save energy, time in completing internal projects, adequate MRO resources and optimized logistics processes. Dynamic airport planning and governance processes are not designed; there is need of knowledge transfer of technology and processes from western countries where operational costs are managed properly.

The list of GIS enabled solutions can be but not limited to the following:

·Integrated GIS enabled Airport Planning Systems

·Integrated GIS enabled Decision support System with enhanced Threat and Error Management features

·Airport Infrastructure and Asset management systems

·Integrated Airport Logistics & Commercials Management

·GIS enabled Realtime monitoring of projects and workforce

·Spatial data collection in real-time with handheld devices

·GIS enabled 3D modeling systems to manage traffic and incubate cost saving and safety measures

Usage of GIS and Information Technology systems can facilitate better airport operations planning and management to reduce operational costs and achieve more innovations. There are products and services available from global software companies for this sector, but they may not be easy to use and fit for the purpose in Indian Aviation industry.

I hope that policy makers will look at this aspect of usage of right set of tools and technologies to address the current crises of Indian Aviation industry and make sure that the unique growth opportunity is exploited to make India the third largest Aviation Market by 2020.

Happy Reading! Please write to for any queries and requirements.

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