Why the corona crisis might trigger massive digital transformation in aviation

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The coronavirus has grounded the world’s airlines, and to mitigate the impact of the crisis, airline companies are trying to bring down costs. Digitalisation is a powerful tool in reducing costs, and that is why the crisis might spark a digital transformation in the industry.

In the last couple of years, the aviation industry has made quantum leaps in terms of inflight connectivity for passengers. However, the carriers have been more reluctant when it comes to connecting the cockpit, being more occupied with maintaining daily operations. We now expect the coronavirus will result in a shift of priorities and spark a massive digital transformation in the industry.

According to a report by Frost & Sullivan, digital transformation projects in the aviation industry can potentially generate an annual incremental value of US$5 to $10 per passenger from increased efficiencies, reduced costs, and new revenue streams. That is why digitised airlines are the most likely to survive the crisis and make their companies more competitive on the other side of the crisis. 

As most aircraft are currently grounded, airlines now have the opportunity to develop their fleet bringing connectivity to the cockpit. New technology must undergo immense testing procedures before being certified for use in an aircraft. Retrofitting of new technology is time-consuming due to the safety rules and regulations that carriers must adhere to – time that is now available as most airplanes are currently grounded.

The digital transformation has already reached the aircraft cockpits by replacing the traditional flight bag with computers or tablets. The next step for the aviation industry is for aircraft to send and share data while inflight.

The connected cockpit will, among other things, enable real-time decision making based on up-to-date weather forecasts and predictive aircraft maintenance. This will optimise navigation and reduce maintenance costs. It will also decrease the airlines’ fuel use and ultimately lead to more sustainable business operations.

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