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Building the new technology flight path

Rebecca Merrett | Jan. 22, 2014
The aviation industry is increasingly tapping into mobility, analytics and real-time IT solutions to drive efficiencies and new customer experiences both at the airport and in the air.

"We provide airlines with a lot of information on what's happening from a meteorological point of view and on other events as pilots put their flight plan through," Dunsford says. "We intend with OneSky to make this information richer. That even goes into how and when airlines purchase aviation fuel, to what sort and when they acquire aircraft from a long-term planning point of view."

Fuelling efficiency
Having more flexibility with routes means airlines can save on fuel, as well as avoid turbulence and strong wind currents, Dunsford says.

"For example, if you fly from Sydney to Brisbane, when an aircraft takes off from Sydney, it may need to go around the military air space at RAAF Williamstown near the lower Mid North Coast. A lot of civilian aircraft also fly to the north west through a thin pipe up between RAAF Richmond and RAAF Williamstown," he continues. "To fly around both military air spaces can take time and it costs money in fuel burn, rather than directly up to airports in northern NSW or Queensland. So we are about getting improved access and visibility into that military air space and vice versa to enable civilian aircraft to save money and hence pass that saving on to their customers."

Minimising aircraft congestion at airports can also save fuel for airlines. Dunsford says slot management or surface management technology has helped eliminate unnecessary burning of fuel as it helps aircrafts avoid going into a 'holding pattern' where they continue to fly a course until it is safe to land.

CIO at Qantas, Luc Hennekens, is looking into how the airline can save on fuel using flight planning technology to map out efficient flight routes as part of a joint research study with the University of Sydney. Qantas is also completing a major joint study with the Federal Government and Shell into the potential for biofuel in Australia as a way to address the cost and carbon emissions associated with aircraft, he says.

The design and make of the aircraft itself is a big factor in saving on fuel costs and carbon emissions. Jetstar has just received the first of 14 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which are 20 per cent more fuel efficient than older aircraft types of similar size, he says.

Thanabalasingam says the FLaPS flight planning system at REX can monitor how much fuel is used for each sector of aircraft. The data is analysed on a monthly basis and reported back to the relevant department to determine if there needs to be a change in processes to create efficiencies. IT is becoming a greater force in driving efficiencies in the aviation industry and will continue to do so, says Nelson. At QAL the business comes to IT for help more now than they have ever done as it sees technology as integral to creating revenue and saving costs, he says. "People tend to come to us to help them with new technology or new solutions," he says. "One that has been around for a little while now with Trans-Tasman flights is biometrics technology where customs use facial recognition to do checking of the individual against their passport when they are flying between Australia and New Zealand. Gold Coast was one of the first places to have it and is a popular testing ground for these technologies because it's an international airport, it's close to a capital city, and we have a good relationship with all the various stakeholders in the industry." Building strong relationships with stakeholders and collaboration within the industry is vital, Hennekens says, as all aircraft depends on the flight path network, airports, and so on.


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