British Airways is using artificial intelligence
to enhance its airside operations at London Heathrow Terminal 5.
Currently, when customers disembark an aircraft,
British Airways’ ground staff manually check and record the
details of eighteen different activities that need to be completed
before the plane can depart for its next flight - including
thorough cleaning of the aircraft interiors, unloading and
reloading of catering, luggage and cargo and refuelling. An issue
affecting just one of these tasks has the potential to disrupt the
entire process and delay the flight’s departure.
Now, using a network of cameras set up around
the aircraft stand by technology start-up Assaia, an alumni of
British Airways’ parent company IAG’s Hangar 51 start-up
accelerator programme, artificial intelligence is employed to
compare live footage of the complex turnaround process with the
If the technology detects any issues that could
put the aircraft at risk of a delay, an alert is sent to the
manager in charge of the turn within seconds via a smart watch,
informing them of the issue and empowering them to take action to
get the flight back on track.
In this first stage of the trial,
British Airways and Assaia have installed four cameras on three
stands at London Heathrow Terminal 5 and as well as reducing delays, the
airline is also able to collect data on every aircraft turn to
help make its entire operation more efficient.
“Our entire team is really excited to be working
with British Airways - an airline that is prioritising innovation
and sees the value of AI-powered solutions” said Max Diez, CEO,
Assaia International. “We’re eager to work with the airline to
maximise the potential that the technology has to improve
Recently, in another world first, British
Airways announced it was
trialling driverless baggage vehicles at
Heathrow as part of its investment in a safe, efficient and
emissions-free airside operation.
British Airways’ Director of Airports, Raghbir
S. Pattar, said, “British Airways operates up to 800 flights a day
to and from Heathrow. We run a highly complex operation so
efficient turnarounds are critical to ensure all 145,000 customers
travelling through our home hub every day enjoy a punctual
departure. Artificial intelligence is a rapidly evolving
area of technology and I’m thrilled that we’re the first airline
in the world to harness it to further improve our customers’
journeys through the airport. We are the most punctual of the
major short-haul airlines flying out of London and our commitment
to introducing the latest technology to complement our outstanding
customer service is how we will maintain our position at the top.
We’re excited to introduce even more smart, tech-based solutions