The airline industry is an essential component of the global economy. Although disruptions can interrupt the steady growth of the industry, nothing seems to prevent a general upward trend. In 2019, 4.5 billion international passengers took flight out of 38.3 million departing planes, the result of a steady rise that began in the early 2000s.
Flight operations rely on a complex network of professionals and technologies. Analog technology is no longer quite up to the task and the digital transformation of the industry is advancing rapidly. Increasingly, businesses need to incorporate smart digital technology to maintain safe and efficient operations and improve the customer experience.
The Importance of Digitalization in the Aviation Industry
Every link in the aviation operations chain is critical to the safety and efficiency of the industry. Human error in the airline industry can have serious consequences. Human factors have contributed to 80% of aircraft maintenance issues, leading to flight delays, gear damage, injuries, plane crashes and accidents. The digital transformation of aviation can reduce the risk of human error, lower industry operational costs and potentially save lives.
Ultimately, digitization improves the customer experience. The airline industry depends on customer safety and satisfaction. Improving efficiency and security at all levels can help businesses improve their reputation, leading to increased rates of customer acquisition and retention.
How does digitization improve operational efficiency?
Operational efficiency is critical in aviation, as delays lead to significant financial losses. In 2019, delays cost the U.S. airline industry approximately $33 billion. Digital technology can be integrated into all levels of industry, including the following:
- Flight training process
- Airline business process
- Maintenance operations
- Ground operations
- Cockpit and cabin procedures
Digitization improves data throughput and access, often providing valuable real-time information to industry professionals and passengers.
Digital technology improves training efficiency for training programs, airlines, pilots and other workers. Digitizing training manuals ensures access and reduces the costs and burdens of paper manuals. Online manuals are also easier to update, with the potential for instant changes wherever the manuals are deployed.
Online modules and tests make it easy to track trainee progress and identify at-risk employees. Additional learning materials and training sessions can be added so those who need more in-depth or remedial lessons have immediate access.
The transformation of aviation digitalization is improving the efficiency of business processes, from online timing to streamlined communications. Digital technology reduces the time and space needed to complete, organize and maintain documents and files, including personnel records, flight logs and performance reports.
The implementation of digital technology in maintenance operations enables more efficient tracking of maintenance and repair schedules. Some companies are using the technology to predict when an aircraft will need maintenance, making more efficient use of time and reducing the chance of faulty parts.
Ground operations are a hub of the airport, connecting multiple aspects of an aircraft and a customer’s journey. From security checks to baggage handling, ground staff responsibilities are a critical cog, with a high potential for errors and delays. Digital technology can place everything ground crews need in the palm of their hands, improving coordination and communication and creating a much smoother process.
Cockpit and cabin procedures
Cockpit and cabin procedures are the culminating steps in a long chain of airline operations and management processes. Digitization enables more effective and efficient communication between the cockpit, cabin crew members and ground crews. In addition, the devices enable instant data exchange, putting more emphasis on critical information.
How does digitalization improve aviation safety?
Aviation safety starts at the manufacturing level, and digitization is changing the way manufacturers do their jobs. Current technology allows companies to digitally test parts and equipment using a digital twin that looks, behaves and reacts like the real thing. This revolutionary digital development dramatically improves safety and performance before parts and equipment leave the factory.
The digital transformation of airlines can also improve aircraft and flight safety. More efficient maintenance tracking and planning processes make aircraft less likely to have critical problems that lead to emergency situations. Sharing and communicating in-flight data can improve passenger and crew safety with real-time updates and alerts. Cockpit crews who often depend on communications from other pilots for weather changes can receive digital updates that help them avoid dangerous flight conditions and organize alternate routes when needed.
The next level of airline digital transformation
Automated and intelligent workflow technology takes the digitization of airline operations to the next level. Automation further integrates functions and improves efficiency and safety across the industry. Data analysis and procedural checks are automated, reducing computation time and improving accuracy. Automated alert systems notify staff of a problem before it becomes an emergency.
Smart technology is responsive and adaptive, further reducing human steps that can bog down or introduce errors into any process. As robots enter the scene, most digital technologies in the airline industry still revolve around improving people-centric processes.
The benefits of software for airline digital solutions
Airline management software improves airline operations and management with document workflow automation, mobile forms with secure digital signature, approval workflows and advanced reporting capabilities. It is important to choose platforms that comply with ISO 27001 information security management standards, so that industry data and records are safe throughout the storage, transmission and retrieval processes.
Aeronautical software supports the aviation industry in the following ways:
- Digitization of flight logs, maintenance logs, weight and balance worksheets and anomaly reports and automation of calculations
- Store and share up-to-date flight manuals that meet the latest policy requirements
- Provide a communication platform to coordinate processes between cabin and ground crews
- Automation of data control checks and alerts
- Improve training effectiveness with digital learning guides, comprehension checks and automated grading
Airlines are in the midst of rapid digitization. Those who take steps to get ahead can increase their appeal to customers and increase their bottom line.