Dec. 3, 2020

Aircraft connectivity is powering innovations for new levels of efficiency and safety, experts said during the NBAA GO Virtual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (VBACE). Predictive analytics could also improve passenger service and reduce emissions, said panelists for “The Future of Flight: How Digital Solutions are Transforming the User Experience,” moderated by NBAA Western Regional Representative Phil Derner.

“People want the same connectivity experience in the aircraft as they have at home, whether it’s surfing the Internet or communicating with their team members,” said Thomas Sterling, director of business aviation digital solutions and information management services at Collins Aerospace. “It has to be seamless and reliable.”

With connectivity systems in place, aviation can analyze flight data to power new predictive technologies, said Scott Uhlir, associate director of digital strategy for Collins Aerospace Avionics. “The use of data is moving us from reporting on what has happened to where we can say what is happening now. Very soon, the industry will move beyond that to prediction, helping users to make more effective decisions.”

Predictive technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, could soon enable the industry to create a “digital twin” of an aircraft for maintenance and diagnostics, said Daniel Baker, founder and CEO of FlightAware.

“People think about connectivity largely as taking content from the ground and delivering to the airplane,” said Baker. And yet, “taking the data from the avionics and sending it down to the ground allows us to solve great problems through predictive diagnostics.”

“With this technology, we can increase efficiencies across the board, and reduce costs, carbon emissions and noise emissions,” noted Baker.

The panelists also recognized that connectivity also has helped the industry adapt to the adversities of COVID-19 by enabling online partnerships to solidify business aviation’s future.

“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that were creating technological innovations faster than ever,” said Uhlir, “and when our customers are ready to leverage them as they get back to normal flight operations, they will be incredibly impressed with what’s been accomplished.”