Connected Aircraft are Closer Than You Think

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By: Megan Ray Nichols

The future of the avionics industry includes connected aircraft that will allow for big data sharing between aircraft and operation bases. This technology is closer than you may think as it mirrors the same technology you possibly use at work every day. Airlines are planning roll-outs in the near future that will increase the efficacy of current mechanical systems as well as enhance your passenger flight experience.

The Avionics Industry is Changing Quickly

As communications continue to grow, the avionics industry is researching ways to apply this broadband and satellite-based connectivity to commercial aircraft. Currently, all of the data collected on an aircraft is in storage throughout the airplane and not shared. The goal is to broaden these connectivity options to communicate with airline operators as well as other airplanes.

This data sharing will allow airplanes to transmit information such as analytics, maintenance issues and real-time weather reports. Global networks, such as GX Aviation and AT&T Solutions, will expand bandwidth and data storage to the avionics industry so that more airlines and airports can use the high-speed communication systems. Companies like Honeywell plan to connect their mechanical system equipment and other avionic systems to the connectivity technology.

Maintenance systems will report to the team on the ground on any real-time issues, such as brake monitoring, without having to wait for a physical inspection on the ground between flights.

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The Advancing Technology

The Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) works through radio signals and is the communication system currently used between an airplane and ground-based operators. In-flight high speeds limit data-streaming as well as the use of an older communications system.

The advancing Internet of Things (IoT) technology is already in use, just not in the skies. Businesses with multiple computers running on the same network are a good example of this technology. The Local Area Network (LAN) for the company connects each computer, known as a node.

The same applies for connected aircraft as each airplane is a node that shares information within its network to operation bases, airports and other aircraft. Soon, connected aircraft will data stream in flight even while the airplane is traveling at high speeds using satellite-based technology and broadband communication systems.

Some airlines are announcing rolling out connected aircraft in the very near future, including Etihad Airways. These aircraft will be built to meet the strictest safety standards and ensure that all equipment resist damage. The company plans to have all of their aircraft connected by the end of this year and feature live air safety reports.

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A Connected Aircraft Conference will take place in March 2017 in Dubai to cover the recent developments and integration of satellite connectivity. The topics for discussion include compliance, predictive analytics, security risks, reduced operational costs, new revenue streams and passenger experience.

Revolutionizing the Experience of Flight

This new technology will not only revolutionize the avionics industry in terms of sharing communication, but it will also enhance both passenger and pilot flight experiences. Pilots can make better judgment calls after reviewing information shared between airplanes currently in flight from the connected cockpit systems.

Airlines will employ efficient maintenance that will result in cost savings for the operators and companies. Passengers will have a better flight experience while enjoying the Internet for either business or pleasure and staying connected to their friends and family. Passengers will also experience fewer delays as connected aircraft can share potential problems while in the air and alert the maintenance crew on land so the maintenance operators can be better prepared for an emergency.

Global high-speed connection is the future for avionics and just like in every other industry the change is closer than you think.

About the Author:

megannicholsMegan Nichols is the editor of Schooled by Science. She enjoys writing about the latest innovations in technology and science.

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