The commercial aviation industry is at the
beginning of a technology investment wave fueled by advancements
in high-speed, in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity.
In the new Honeywell Connected Aircraft Report, aviation professionals around the globe in the
commercial aircraft sector reveal that spending on connected
technologies will increase dramatically in the coming years,
driven by a rapidly growing demand for solutions that enhance the
passenger experience, save airlines money and improve operational
Connected technologies are defined as those that
make use of data sent to and from the aircraft to benefit
passengers, pilots and operators. Some examples include
applications that track fleet fuel usage; give pilots landing and
navigation aids; crowd-sourced weather information accessed via
mobile devices; and analytics solutions that use data from “smart”
sensors, sending it to maintenance personnel or aircraft operators
The report finds that spending will be largely
focused beyond the cabin, with maintenance ranking highest among
the pain points that airline decision makers want to tackle.
Investment in connected technologies is expected to rise
significantly during the next 12 months, and to increase even more
rapidly over the next five years.
“The airline industry is beginning to seriously
invest in Connected Aircraft technology to proactively improve
daily operations. The result is airline employees performing their
daily roles more effectively, while also delivering the kind of
service that passengers expect, including increased safety and
on-time arrivals,” said Kristin Slyker, vice president, Connected
Aircraft, Honeywell Aerospace. “With the massive potential for
cost savings and improved operations, predictive maintenance is
the No. 1 area in which airlines are looking to invest. Our
research revealed nearly 60% of airlines are looking to
purchase predictive maintenance technologies over the next year,
and even more are expected to invest down the road.”
The Honeywell Connected Aircraft Report features
survey responses from maintenance personnel, flight and ground
crew, fleet management personnel and other key stakeholders in the
commercial airline sector on near and long-term technology
Connected Aircraft technologies are seen as one of
the most important long-term investments to improve all-around
operations and competitive standing within the industry. The
benefits of these technologies also go well beyond passenger
entertainment in the cabin. The next wave of investment in
connectivity is to address three main challenges: maintenance
effectiveness, fuel consumption and aircraft turnaround time.
Challenge No. 1: Maintenance
Maintenance issues routinely cause airlines to
ground aircraft minutes before departure, which is never ideal for
a business that relies on taking off and arriving on time and
safely. These delays cost the industry hundreds of millions of
dollars a year and contribute significantly to passenger
Based on insight from commercial respondents,
improvements in maintenance are the most important benefit
airlines want to see from an investment in the Connected Aircraft.
Maintenance was ranked as the top priority in the report, with 88% of respondents labeling it as an “Extremely Important” or
a “Very Important” investment.
“In my business — commercial aviation — safety
and reliability is paramount. Therefore, it is high priority to
provide preventive, predictive and reliable maintenance,” said one
respondent from an aircraft original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
“We want to be able to predict when a component
is about to fail, and change it before it does,” said a fleet
management professional at a passenger airline.
Challenge No. 2: Fuel Consumption
Fuel typically accounts for 20 to 40% of
an airline’s operating costs. If airlines can reduce the amount of
fuel used, that will make a dramatic impact on the bottom line.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that 73% of survey respondents
listed fuel efficiency as “Extremely Important” or “Very
Important” to an airline’s investment plan.
“We are one of the biggest domestic operators
with comparatively lower turnaround time, [so] fuel use data is a
big concern for us. We are operating in a very busy environment;
if a single flight is disrupted, it becomes a great concern to
manage the schedule,” said a fleet management employee at a
“Saving fuel, shortening or eliminating delays,
and having better real-time information will result in lower
operational costs. On the customer side, we want to be the brand
of choice. The new generation of business travelers (our most
lucrative customer) wants to be connected at all times and have
information readily available. The airline that can provide this
will have a competitive advantage,” said a ground operations
employee at a passenger airline.
Challenge No. 3: Aircraft
To keep passengers happy and costs on track,
pushing back from the gate in a timely manner for on-time arrivals
is important. Passenger experience was one of the top reasons for
airlines to invest in the Connected Aircraft, with 76% of
respondents listing it as “Extremely Important” or “Very
“Connected-related purchases will increase
operational efficiency, improve fleet management, provide energy
efficiency, ensure flight safety, give customers delight, [and
reduce] aircraft turnaround time and costs,” said an aircraft
research and development expert at an aircraft OEM.
Big Investment Now, Bigger
Investing in the Connected Aircraft is important
for airlines around the globe. In fact, 81% of respondents
cited connected technologies as a high or very high priority for
their business. And while 86% of respondents said they were
looking to make a Connected Aircraft purchase over the next year,
the number jumps to 95% over the next five years.
“[Connectivity technologies] are a high priority
because of the accurate statistical data they provide in all sorts
of ways. It’s very important in this industry to have tools that
help you be proactive rather than reactive. Connectivity-related
products go a long way in making this approach possible,” said a
ground operations professional from a passenger airline.
According to the report, 61% of
respondents are planning to spend more in the next year than they
currently do on Connected Aircraft technology, and 69% are
planning to spend even more in the next five years. Airlines are
also willing to give that investment time to pay off; 27%
expect a return between 12 and 18 months, and 28% expect a
return between 19 months and three years.
About half of the respondents expect to spend up
to $1 million per aircraft on connectivity technologies over the
next year, with most looking to spend $100K to $500K. The bigger
jump is seen over the next five years, with 38% of
respondents reporting that they expect to spend at least $1
million per aircraft on connected technology during that time
span. A full 17% plan to spend more than $10 million per
aircraft on connected technologies over the next five years. These
significant investments signal the increasing value of connected
technologies in the coming years.
Connectivity has reached a point of maturation
where its value is being seen both inside and outside the cabin.
Connected technologies help airlines and related businesses stay
competitive and ahead of the curve, and help solve some of the
industry’s biggest problems.
“The Connected Aircraft brings immense
opportunity to increase flight efficiency and productivity for
pilots, maintainers and flight operations managers, while
delivering a safer and more enjoyable experience for passengers,”
Slyker said. “Data is allowing us to help airlines maximize their
aircraft utilization and increase their return on investment.”