AeroTime exclusively from Sydney | The aviation industry is one of the sectors where use of big data seems unavoidable. According to Mario Hardy, CEO of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), the knowledge provided by big data will be the new game-changer of aviation.

So far, airlines have accumulated a lot of consumer data thanks to their fidelity programs. They are able to know where, when and with whom their passengers traveled. Using this information, airlines could anticipate their customers’ needs by determining where they could want to go next, or what they would like to eat while onboard.

Another sector where data already has a preponderant role is the MRO field. And it is due to become more and more important. In 2016, a survey from Oliver Wyman estimated that in 2026, the global fleet would generate 98 million terabytes of data. The information collected from an aircraft will help airlines and MROs to conduct predictive maintenance and monitor their fleet health in real-time, providing means to improve operational efficiency.

For Hardy, big data will also be used by plane manufacturers to predict the need for their planes in the coming years, using more and more precise annual forecasts. Data will also be involved in the development of planes themselves. On June 20, 2017, Airbus launched Skywise in partnership with the U.S. startup Palantir, specialized in data analyzing (for the NSA and the CIA among others). The new platform is supposed to help companies and manufacturers analyze data extracted from aircraft currently being tested or already in activity. The European manufacturer expects to develop the next generation of plane 30% to 50% faster thanks to Skywise, while reducing the production costs up to 30%.

The use of data extracted from aircraft is not limited to technicians. It also gives pilots insights on their own work. In 2017, All Nippon Airways tested a new product from French company CEFA: using data recorded by aircraft, pilots could download a video rendering of their flights, minutes after they landed. That kind of technology greatly helps the capacity of pilot to improve autonomously by analyzing themselves their flight habits.

Data can be a key to the future for airports too. Predictions show that current infrastructures may not be able to sustain the exponentially growing number of passengers. By facilitating security checks and access to boarding, as it already is the case in Singapore new terminal, airports could accommodate way more passengers.

But for Hardy, the full potential of data resides in partnership that can be formed among data owners. Eventually airlines, hotel groups, car renters, restaurants and other potential companies benefitting from travel could associate to sell customers a complete and customized experience with only a click.