‘Connected Aircraft’ event taking place in Munich, Germany

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Delegates at the Connected Aircraft event.
Delegates at the Connected Aircraft event.

The two-day Connected Aircraft event, being held at the MOC Conference Centre in Munich, is under way. The event is being held as part of the Aerospace Technology Week.

The conference was opened by moderator Woodrow Bellamy, Editor In Chief, Access Intelligence, who said that connectivity has moved from being about satellites and networks to being a real driving force in terms of connected aircraft.

“One of the exciting things we are working on with Qantas is turbulence forecasting,” he said. “Using high-speed connectivity brings quality graphics to weather reporting in the cockpit.

“Digital pharma is also using inflight connectivity to monitor the temperatures of products for confirmation of medicine integrity. We have equipped aircraft with IoT sensors from SITAONAIR to feed information to the ground via an IoT Edge gateway.”

Warren Lampitt, Director, Flight Technical, Air Canada, said: “We’ve seen an explosion in activity in connected aircraft. We are able to use small, very powerful tablets and inexpensive satellite connectivity in the cockpit.”

Captain Jason Brown, Air Canada, added: “One of the key developments we have done is in reducing paper and homogenising all the data in one place. Multiple legacy systems have been impacted.

“There is still quite a lot of work to be done. We have also worked with Gogo and the Weather Company on a crowd-sourced turbulence reporting. We are also looking at predictive maintenance.”

Gogo’s US-based air-to-ground and global satellite communication network is used to send the reports for immediate action in flight operations and weather forecasting.

Traditionally, flight operations personnel, pilots and aviation meteorologists received coded verbal reports with limited information on flight conditions, also known as PIREPS. Due to multiple reasons, including a lack of cockpit data connectivity, pilots were not able to get real-time updates.

Using the Gogo network, pilots in the cockpit are able to access real-time turbulence reports and forecaster created alerts through Weather’s flight planning and operations applications like WSI Fusion and WSI Pilotbrief, and aircraft communication displays.

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“We have a lot of work to do to manage our spares and our maintenance teams. The biggest change is the process to get people to see the true benefits of predictive maintenance. One of our staff commented ‘You want me to fix things before they break?’, so there is some education work to be completed!” Brown said.

“We are also investigating hardware solutions to adopt better cyber security.  We are looking at a dedicated Wi-Fi network for the aircrew and continue to leverage our work with Gogo, but are also looking at SwiftBroadband Safety.”

Mehmet Emin Yildiz, System Engineer, Avionics and Electrical Systems, AeroLogic, said they are also interested in paperless cockpits, with digital charts, maps, eTLB, logbooks, and digital document distribution.

AeroLogic serves as a platform for DHL Express and Lufthansa Cargo.

“L-band [Inmarsat SwiftBroadband] is more than good enough for the amount of data we are sending,” he said.

“We aim to reduce our ACARS data costs by 80%. We are still using floppy disks to update aircraft systems, which can be very problematic. We want to get rid of the physical media and are moving towards moving the data over the cellular network. This will bypass all the hassles we have today.

“Our moving-map app will replace the paper charts, complete with a plot of where the aircraft is in real-time, by hooking up to the GPS,” he said.

“Real-time weather information will also give a clearer view of current and future weather hazards along the flight plan. This will bring enhanced situational awareness, lower fuel consumption and longer engine lifetime.”

The Connected Aircraft event runs until the end of Wednesday 13th March 2019. Next year’s Aerospace Technology Week will take place in Toulouse on 18/19 March 2020.

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