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The quiet data revolution in aviation post Covid-19

The next three-part series by our Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Carl Davis, will explore the ever-increasing role of data analysis, data-driven insights and data management in the aviation sector and their impact on the digitalisation of the aviation industry, also diving into their connection to artificial intelligence.

In the first article of the series, Carl talks about data-driven decision-making post Covid-19, why it is critical in improving the profitability of aviation organisations, and why it is the key to the future of the aviation sector.

Carl Davis, CTIO, flydocs

The aviation industry is one of the most impacted sectors that has felt the impact of Covid-19. Since the start of the pandemic, governments across the world have used data to make predictions, leading to policy changes and unprecedented limits to air travel. Here in the UK, the government has made decisions based on information from data modellers in the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which have determined every aspect of our lives, from who we can meet to where, and if, we can travel.

What the pandemic has shown is that data is the key to prediction models and that the future of aviation companies is intertwined with data analysis. The vast amount of data generated daily in the aviation industry provides invaluable information that can improve operational planning and execution.

Aviation companies are already using data for all sorts of purposes, from predicting the likelihood of a lockdown happening and the effect on fleet management to the timing of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of aircraft components. For example, air transport communications and information specialists SITA are using data to assist them in a range of areas (including but not limited to) refining and transforming the day-to-day operation of aircraft during take-off, flight and landing, as well as acting as a neutral data brokering platform for the industry collecting data from operators, OEMs and digital service providers. (Source: https://www.sita.aero/pressroom/blog/the-aircraft-data-insight-that-can-drive-your-operation-forward/)

Data-driven decision-making is critical in improving profitability of aviation organisations. Those who ignore this data do so at their peril. That’s because data analysis modelling has now hit the mainstream. As it becomes more prevalent, it will be a determining factor of the success of your business strategy in the future. In short, it is the key to the future of companies in the aviation sector.

How to gain data-driven insights

  1. The first asset you need is data, either access to your own data or readily available data in the public domain, such as Our World in Data and ONS, or through partners. Even if you have no access to data yourself you can always look at partners that may have access to the data but may not have the capability (or need) to make use of this data. However, don’t forget about data governance and privacy.
  2. You need to be able to create models that enable you to understand and predict the future. It is not about trying to have a fixed view of what will happen in the future, what you’re aiming for is a number of predictions that result in a range of possible outcomes (with confidence levels) that you can prepare for.
  3. You need to be able to take actions based on the predicted outcomes and insights. Ideally, you should be able to do so without the need to create a new policy, process, or strategy.

In the next part of this three-part series, Carl will look at data and artificial intelligence and initiatives in aviation that are transforming the industry.