Though in recent years the industry has invested heavily in the passenger experience, technological innovation in ground handling operations has been largely dormant.
Information exchange is principally a manual process, wads of paper changing hands.
This situation could be about to change. The digital transformation of the ground operations sector is gathering pace, with a number of developments in the offing.
The harmonization will reduce errors and speed up procedures
One of the more critical initiatives is industry-wide XML standards for the transmission of airline data. This will facilitate more efficient ways of delivering weight and balance information.
The harmonization will reduce errors and speed up procedures by ensuring the correct data is passed along the entire value chain, including aircraft manufacturer; airline engineers; companies involved in aircraft cabin re-configuration; the departure control system administrators; load controllers; and airline crews.
Internet browsers and data repositories will underpin progress, allowing the instantaneous exchange of vital data and its subsequent revisions.
Naturally enough, the improvements streamline operations considerably. Airlines are fed the information they need in real time, allowing them to properly plan the aircraft’s time on the ground and prepare for the next departure.
As technology becomes cheaper to implement, digital uptake will doubtless increase
Developments such as these will transform the industry.
While ground handling has always answered airline needs in a fiercely competitive and dynamic industry, the time and resources necessary to get ahead of the curve have been hard to come by.
But, as technology moves to an open architecture and becomes cheaper to implement—as well as being familiar to a millennial workforce—digital uptake will doubtless increase.