High-Flying Insights on World Safety Day: Software to Support Airplane Safety, Sustainability and Cost Optimization
April 28, 2023
Flying is the safest form of long distance travel,” said Amir Emam, Senior Sales Director, Middle East, Turkiye and Africa with GE Digital, in part because “nothing compromises safety.” in aviation.
The aviation sector currently is in a period of flux, with the global industry committed to becoming net zero by 2050 and many carriers looking to show progress toward sustainability in the near term as well. At the same time, bolstered by a strong rebound in air travel, carriers are hoping to make up for pandemic losses by maximizing profitability, in part by reducing costs, including fuel costs, whenever possible.
As a result, pilots and many others involved in flight operations and other aspects of running an airline, are being pulled in multiple directions by the needs of sustainability, profitability, and safety, Emam said.
Speaking ahead of World Day for Safety and Health at Work, he talked about the role that digital solutions are playing in keeping air travel safe – in part by resolving some of these potential tensions.
This is possible by providing insights that help pilots and other decision makers to balance these priorities. These software solutions gather data from across the aircraft, including flight operations, engine, and aircraft performance; historical data about the plane and engines; and information on weather and airport conditions, both flight-specific and historical.
This is fed into powerful AI and machine learning models that perform deep analytics to provide information on these three critical areas, as well as many other aspects of flight and fleet operations, such as maintenance.
Delivering safety, while also addressing sustainability and profitability, is possible by combining all these elements into one platform.
“That is something unique that GE Digital has developed with its Event Measurement System (EMS),” Emam said, that ensures pilots and other decision-makers won’t get caught between important – but sometimes competing – priorities.
“As airlines focus more on sustainability, that creates a potential adverse effect on safety, he said. “This is where having fleet-wide or airline-wide software like EMS is key, not only by pursuing sustainability but also by analyzing for safety. It provides sustainability insights but only if there is no adverse impact on safety.”
The multiple priorities tugging on pilots is exemplified, Emam said, by the fuel-saving Engine-out Taxi-in procedure, which involves shutting down one or more engines during taxiing. However, for safety reasons in certain weather conditions, this procedure should not be used.
At an airline that uses separate software for cost management and safety, a pilot might get commended by the safety software for not using Engine-out Taxi-in in the rain but get a cautionary notification from the cost-management software that they had not used this fuel-reduction procedure.
From a safety perspective, GE Digital’s FlightPulse delivers personalized pre-flight and post-flight information and analytics to each pilot. Pre-flight, this includes situational awareness for each flight with information on weather and updates on the departing and arriving airports, including tailwinds, holdings, go-arounds,runway closures, and more.
Post-flight, information includes pilot performance against airline KPIs and broader benchmarking with other pilots.
The EMS software supports safety in part through preventative trendspotting. For example, it identifies when a pilot’s performance is tending toward error or safety risk, such as identifying when a pilot is increasingly involved in long landings or performing take-offs with a pitch rate that outside recommended tolerances. An intervention or re-training can then be implemented.
EMS also can identify when a part or piece of equipment needs maintenance, allowing an operator to pull the aircraft for maintenance preventatively, rather than have an unscheduled maintenance event that is much more costly.
At heart, these digital solutions help airlines and pilots live the mantra that safety cannot be compromised.
“By taking into account these different data sources, we’re able to help operators follow through with the sustainability goals, predict maintenance needs, all without compromising safety.
“Safety is in our DNA, so we’re able to make sure that whatever recommendations we make on operations or performance, safety is always the priority.”
Read more here about how GE Digital supports customer operations and safety across the Middle East, North Africa and Turkiye region.