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Airbus Skywise: A revolution in the clouds

Airbus Skywise: A revolution in the clouds
By Airbus
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Imagine if the aviation ecosystem was as open as the sky itself - what could we achieve?

It’s a compelling prospect - airplanes generate a staggering amount of data every day, but historically it’s all been kept separate. But to combine all this information in one place would lead to new and groundbreaking insights that could significantly improve the flying experience.

Now, thanks to Airbus, we don’t actually have to imagine what it’s like to have a system where open, transparent data can be shared to the benefit of everyone who flies.

Skywise: The beating heart of aviation Big Data

Skywise represents a revolution in aviation - how we create it, how we deliver it, and how we experience it. Simply put, Skywise collects and analyses aviation data - but because it happens at such a massively unprecedented scale, the insights are nothing short of revolutionary.

Skywise is a digital, hyper-connected and secure platform that enables users to optimise and predict everything from engineering and maintenance to flight operations. Thanks to cutting edge data analytics and artificial intelligence tools, Skywise lets users access deep insights previously lost in the noise. The results include fewer operational interruptions, lower fuel burn, generally improved efficiently and reduced workload.

Because never before has the masses of data been shared on this scale. An airborne A350 produces around 800 gigabytes of data on an average flight - about the same amount produced by all the cars over the course of an entire Formula 1 weekend - and this number continues to rise as engineering gets smarter. Keeping aviation data locked down has always been the standard, but it is limiting. Airbus has discovered there’s another way, and consequently, the industry has leapt forward. Launched only last year in collaboration with big data-pioneer Palantir Technologies, the aim is for Skywise to become the platform of reference for all major aviation players.

Big Data in the sky

The benefits of Skywise are already tangible, as major airlines across the world have experienced the benefits. The total number of aircraft to be connected to Skywise has now surpassed 2,000, and it keeps growing as more airlines come onboard. A Skywise Core connection means operating data from the planes are shared, and the airlines can then store, manage and analyse the information alongside their own proprietary data and relevant global benchmarks. Premium access to Skywise enables even deeper insights and bespoke recommendations, along with the ability to predict with higher levels of accuracy when maintenance will be required in the near future.

Emirates is using Skywise to provide predictive and enhanced diagnostics, enabling the airline to improve maintenance processes and make quicker, more informed decisions. What’s more, the predictive monitoring means quick solutions can be found while the problem is being fixed, resulting in a significant boost to fleet operational reliability. Delta Air Lines is working with Skywise to develop advanced predictive capabilities that has led to fewer component and systems failures. As the work of predictive modelling continues, this could in the future reduce Delta’s operational interruptions by 15 percent.

EasyJet has opted for Skywise for predictive maintenance services across its fleet of nearly 300 aircraft. This means EasyJet engineers will be able to remove components before faults occur, resulting in fewer delays and cancellations. By summer of 2019, EasyJet’s planes will collect 60 times more data than the existing systems. Skywise has also proved valuable for Hong Kong Airlines, which uses big data to avoid fuel overconsumption on descent and approach. The aircraft’s flight plan is automatically adjusted according to the plane’s real-time situation, and once fully operational, this will result in up to 210 kilos of fuel saved for an A380 plane on a single descent.

Big Data - big goals

The potential of an open data platform has only just started to become apparent. Skywise is also powering innovation around the edges of the airplane. The Airbus Advanced Inspection Drone improves aircraft inspection quality, and saves time by following a predetermined inspection path around an aircraft while taking high-resolution photos. This is an example of the kind of ambitious project that’s now possible thanks to the advancement of drones, collaborative robots, the Internet of Things and non-destructive sensors, and of course, aircraft in-service data collected via Skywise.

As aviation industry leaders continue to join forces with Airbus and contribute their valuable data to Skywise, the platform will become more powerful and deliver even more accurate insights. While each service is tailored to the individual airline, the common database means the more data that is fed into Skywise and the results keep getting better for everyone - Airbus’s long-term ambitions for Skywise is to reduce operational disruptions by 30%. As the best aviation engineers in the world now focus their attention on the possibilities, Skywise will be at the core of groundbreaking innovation in the years to come.