Smart operations: take off and soar high!
Constantly evolving technology
The technology is constantly evolving. The airline industry has been one of the pioneers to embrace the cutting-edge innovations with numerous airports implementing isolated solutions, including Airport Operations Command Centers (AOCC), introducing mobile-enabled passenger services, as well as using “smart gates” and airport performance reporting tools.
Airports operations are complex, sensitive, and smart – they differ greatly from other industries. Airports are a “ business card” of every country and their task is to make a positive impression on a visitor. Since it’s an infrastructure operating around-the-clock, it must be capable of meeting permanently transforming customer demands.
The airports of today must rapidly adapt to the changes and be highly proactive. As they are a gigantic hub for transportation, trade, and information, modern airports should utilize interconnected systems and processes that are simple to access for all the users.
Thus, predicting capacity demand, providing an enhanced passenger travel experience, improving operational efficiency, boosting staff productivity, and ensuring safety and security are among the main objectives of the efficient airport.
Just imagine yourself arriving at the airport with only a digital confirmation and a boarding pass in your phone! Already today, one can easily check arrival and departure times by a mobile app. Everything is digitalized and, of course, people expect all the things to operate just as smoothly as their application...
The adoption of new processes and technologies to automate the journey means that departing passengers spend less time in the check-in/customs zones, with the focus of passenger experience moving towards airside departures lounge, creating new opportunities for service and experience.
Efficient moving around the airports and personalized wayfinding are already included in the list of the priorities. Hence, long security and immigration lines will be minimized through the use of predictive and real time passenger flow management systems. Security search will use non-intrusive, on-the-move facial recognition and bag scanning, facilitating faster line-free checking-in process for the majority of passengers.
As for the intelligent mobility, passengers will enjoy better connected, automated travel options providing seamless, reliable public transport options without any need to park a car at the airport premises before the flight.
Omnipotent digitalization of the travel experience
Today’s journey typically begins with a digital search – we learn about weather conditions and departure delays, baggage status and special deals. Digital personalization, even personalized pricing models that take into account past bookings, are the way the future innovations take shape. Modern travel is highly interactive: while passengers track flight progress and chart arrival and departure times, the airlines notify them of scheduling changes and gate assignments via text or email.
No doubt, onboard connectivity and increased passenger comfort are the next great frontiers for airline travel. For instance, Delta Airlines launched of chip-embedded baggage tags to reduce the staggering number of lost bags (over 24 million bags were lost in 2014!).
On the other hand, Aeromexico’s new 787 offers its passengers a real “cruise ship” ambience with lounge areas, boarding lobbies, self-service bars, and snack kitchens. A new interior configuration for select long-haul flights includes spacious seating, aisle access for every passenger, and touch screens with television access for every seat.
Technology has brought flight management software to the point where data on specific aircraft performance and other air traffic can be “crunched” to determine optimal flight plans that enables controllers to predict arrival times within 10 seconds.
Smart operations are everywhere!
Smart data is a crucial player, especially, when it comes to the reduction of the maintenance time and the time an aircraft spends on the ground. To illustrate, in a 30-minute flight from Frankfurt to Berlin, a single jet engine produces approximately 1.5Tb of data. While the sheer volume of data brings complexities in its own right, it is also incredibly difficult to transfer data to the ground from an airborne aircraft in real-time. But if an engineer in the terminal is alerted about an error in the engine before it touched down, a replacement part could be sourced and delivered as quickly as possible, reducing the amount of time the aircraft has to spend on the ground.
How the airlines can meet customers concerns?
Rigid control of flight navigation helps save fuel and reduce pollution, which means fewer delays in future and lower level of noise in the neighbourhoods located to the airport. As a result, the airlines are investing into the building of passengers’ loyalty and increase of the overall satisfaction level with the services and industry in general.
Connectivity is associated with loyalty
Rather often, customer loyalty management tends to directly define the success of the airlines. It’s obvious that passengers are very fond of extra points and rewards, but they are getting even more demanding and value service and performance over the price.
Customer satisfaction is critical, and travellers of today are seeking total engagement in all meaningful ways. Hence, customers provide positive feedback as for the “one-stop shopping” and online booking for flights, hotels, rental cars, etc. Likewise, relevant traveler profiles ensure increased interaction. Moreover, targeted promotions based on personal profiles and social media relationships are vital.
It’s not only ticketing and boarding that have gone high-tech - the entire travel experience has been transformed by the digital age.
Smart airports of the future
It’s obvious that the airports of the future will be highly linked to holistic, automated, agile, and responsive platforms that will enable them to obtain access to actionable data, significantly improving accuracy in decision-making.
With a better position to serve the needs of the customers, the airports will allow the passengers to easily track the status of the flights and lengths of the checking-in lines, as well as to facilitate the settlement of baggage issues. When talking about the airport staff, they will be able to track real-time inefficiencies and congestion at crucial sites throughout the airport including gates, counters, check-in, and boarding.
Airport is a complex passenger-oriented environment based on collaboration and innovation
In the security sector, airport-related innovations will surely improve integration with immigration and citizen identity management systems while helping with biometric-based authentication of staff and passengers. In the light of the recent anti-terrorist campaigns, real-time security risk alerts and crisis management will of vital importance.
Smart airport solutions that are adopted by the airports around the world can range from smart gates, beacon technology, mobile devices and face recognition systems to air traffic management, baggage and check-in management.
As air traffic grows, airports will need to adapt to the requirements and be ready to embrace these inevitable changes.
Smart operations, social media, airport sensors and new applications will generate exponential growth in data. New artificial intelligence knowledge-management tools (predictive analytics) will facilitate generation of powerful new insights and identify emergent trends and patterns.
To deliver a genuinely customer-centric experience, the smart airport will have to go beyond data sharing and to boost multi-faced, efficient collaboration, from strategic planning to operation decision-making.