Passenger Experience Initiatives

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Operating in a volatile environment, airlines today are influenced by a variety of external factors that impact their business – either on the ground or in the air.

Extreme weather conditions, natural disasters, mechanical problems, labour issues, air traffic congestion, security alerts and other disruptions can not only damage an airline’s brand value but also generate unexpected costs, not to mention the fact that it puts tremendous pressure on the airports and the ground staff to accommodate passengers on next flights.

To deal with such delays, airlines as well as to an extent airports need the agility to restore normal services swiftly and cost-efficiently.

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Airports, both large and small, are noisy, crowded and stressful. As global air traffic continues to grow—the International Air Traffic Association estimates the current volume will double by 2035—and airports everywhere will be feeling the impact.

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Crowded terminals and runways, longer queues and wait times and increased number of frustrated passengers seems like an impending doom for the travel business.

Airport operators who cannot expand their infrastructures due to environmental issues, space restrictions or a lack of capital must find new approaches to be more efficient and responsive to passenger needs.

Technology and access to accurate data can greatly improve an airport’s operational efficiency to improve passenger experience, which is the need of the hour with millions of travellers taking to air.

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International hubs such as Dubai, Changi and Helsinki are concentrating on how to deliver high quality experience to travellers using their services.

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Massive airport expansions and an emphasis on creating Zen-like atmospheres, or designing more open spaces and adding  facilities is fine but to deliver the best possible passenger experience involves synchronizing with multiple operators by getting ahead of issues, before they become disruptions.

A Total Airport Management approach is needed by using real-time data to detect, and even predict, passenger needs hours in advance, and deal with emerging situations before they become problems.

A holistic view of the passenger, that begins even before they leave their homes. Weather, road and rail conditions can impact their arrival times at the airport, while flight delays can change the departure times and could impact their onward journey. Knowing these factors beforehand and understanding passenger volume and activity helps airports optimize wait times and better coordinate the passenger experience.

Retail partners better anticipate foot traffic and revenues.

Using data on meteorological conditions, flight prioritization, runway traffic loads, aircraft turn-around times, and baggage and passenger operations mean reduced delays, unnecessary fuel burn, and cost savings for airlines.

Outside data sources, such as weather and traffic information, can be pulled in to support decision making (e.g. by anticipating flight delays due to rain, fog or likely storms airports can call in more staff to handle the unforeseen delays).

What passengers want from air travel is to get to their destinations on time with minimal inconvenience and stress.

To provide this experience for growing volumes of passengers, airports must forecast capacity demand years, seasons, months, weeks, days in advance, to be as prepared as possible.

Information regarding estimated wait times for security screenings, customs processing and baggage arrival should be used on airport displays to provide airport maps and show passengers how to get to where they need to go without unnecessary delay.

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As air travel increases, airports that lack the funding and/or space to expand their facilities must find ways to minimize disruptions and deliver exceptional service to passengers and airlines alike by adopting technology-driven capabilities that provide greater end-to-end visibility and planning across landside and airside operations.

When your customers only travel every now and then, their airport experience is a big deal. Your infrequent air travellers are often vacationers, and their experience forms an integral part of their overall vacation experience, setting the mood for the entire trip.

-M

 

 

 

 

PC- Dsilymail;happyornot.com;internationalairportreview
OS: – www.internationalairportreview.com

Did you Know?

Read below for some Interesting Facts about Airports, Airlines and Air Travelling, that you probably didn’t know.

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  • All International Airline Pilots must speak English. The ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) standard is that English is the only official “universal” language for telephony in civil aviation. This essentially means that all official communications in the Air Traffic Control system should be available in English in order to be considered ICAO Compliant.
  • Flights longer than 8 hours require 3 pilots (1 captain and 2 first officers) to rotate flying duties. Flights longer than 12 hours require 4 pilots (1 captain and 3 first officers). They usually fly 3-4 hour shifts.

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  • Though it’s technically not mandated by the FAA, each airline pilot flying the aircraft, eats a different meal to minimize the risk of all pilots on board being ill.
  • The height requirement for Flight Attendant is for safety reasons, making sure that all flight attendants can reach overhead safety equipment.
  • Dimming the lights for takeoff and landing isn’t a mood effect. It’s done so passengers’ eyes can adjust to the dark, just in case there’s an emergency that shuts off the lights. Similarly, flight attendants have passengers raise their window shades during landing, so they can see outside in an emergency and assess if one side of the plane is better for an evacuation.
  • Keeping the blinds open while take-off and landing is for the passengers to spot any fire in the wings or to spot any vehicles in the tarmac so they could alert the crew.
  • Instruction to fasten the seat belts and to make the seat upright while take-off and landing is primarily for the safety of the passengers. But it also stabilizes the centre of gravity of the aircraft and helps controlling the plane.
  • It’s impossible to lock yourself in the bathroom. Do you ever notice how the flight attendants flip a little switch on the lavatory door before takeoff and landing? That switch locks the door so it won’t fly open and can be flipped on or off at any time.
  • An air traveler can lose approximately 1.5 liters of water in the body during a three-hour flight. That dry air saps the water from your body, to the tune of about 8 ounces an hour, which is roughly a two-litre bottle during a 10-hour long-haul flight. Stay hydrated, friends.
  • You lose out on a third of your taste buds during flights. About a third of your taste buds are numbed at altitude, which is why the savory flavors in tomato juice are enhanced — a big reason why people crave Bloody Marys and think they taste so much better on planes.
  • The safety instructions on most flight include how to use the oxygen masks that are deployed when the plane experiences a sudden loss in cabin pressure. However, one that thing that the flight attendants don’t tell you is that oxygen masks only have about 15-minutes worth of oxygen. That sounds like a frighteningly short amount of time, but in reality that should be more than sufficient. Oxygen masks drop when the airplane cabin loses pressure, which means the plane is also losing altitude. Pilots respond to that situation by moving the plane to an altitude below 10,000 feet, where passengers can simply breathe normally, no extra oxygen required.

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  • Ever notice trails left by planes. Those white lines that planes leave in the sky are simply trails of condensation, hence their technical name of “contrails.” Plane engines release water vapor as part of the combustion process. When that hot water vapor is pumped out of the exhaust and hits the cooler air of the upper atmosphere, it creates those puffy white lines in the sky. It’s basically the same reaction as when you see your breath when it’s cold outside.
  • Some airplanes have secret bedrooms for flight crew. On long-haul flights, cabin crew can work 16-hour days. To help combat fatigue, some planes, like the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliners, are outfitted with tiny bedrooms where the flight crew can get a little shut-eye. The bedrooms are typically accessed via a hidden staircase that leads up to a small, low-ceilinged room with 6 to 10 beds, a bathroom, and sometimes in-flight entertainment.

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  • The largest passenger plane was the Airbus 380 – nearly 240 feet long, almost 80 feet high, and has a wingspan of more than 260 feet. The double-decker plane with a standard seating capacity of 555 passengers is being retired after just 12 years in commercial service.  The A380 is expensive for airlines to fuel and maintain. Filling up an upwards of 550 plus seats look impressive on paper, but troublesome from a business perspective. The aviation industry is about “putting butts in seats,” as the saying goes. So if you can’t fill up those seats the airline is in serious trouble.
  • You ever notice that little hole in the bottom of your window? That little hole in the plane window might save your life. That’s the breather hole, and besides keeping in warm air so you don’t get too chilly, it regulates pressure — ensuring that should anything happen to the outer pane of the window, the pressure won’t cause the inner pane to break, at which point you’d suddenly be sucking in oxygen at 35,000 feet.

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  • Usually, turbulence only drops you a few feet in the air. Though you might feel like you’re on the top floor of Tower of Terror, run-of-the-mill light turbulence only drops the plane a few feet in altitude. Moderate turbulence — the kind pilots tell the flight attendants to sit down for — moves the plane 10-20 feet. Severe, white-knuckle, talk-about-it-for-the-rest-of-your-life turbulence might move a plane 100 feet in the most extreme circumstances.
  • The average Boeing 747 has around 150-175 miles of wiring inside it…and about 6 million parts and is more fuel efficient than a hybrid.
  • Planes can fly with one engine, and land with none Not that the pilot is going to get on the intercom and tell you about it, but commercial jets are designed to fly with only one operable engine. And can glide their way to the ground with no engine power at all. So if your plane breaks down mid-air, you’ll still likely land in one piece!
  • There’s a red light on the left wing and a green light on the right. At night, it’s hard for pilots to see other aircraft. Every plane has a red light on the left wing and green on the right, so other pilots can easily identify which way the plane is facing and what direction it’s going.

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  • King Fahd International Airport, Dammam Saudi Arabia tops the list of the 10 largest airports in the world by size. With a total area of 780 square kilometers, the airport’s total area exceeds that of the country of Bahrain! Most of the property, however, is not put into use. In fact, only 37 square kilometers are dedicated for airport usage. That is only about 5%!

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  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is the busiest airport in the world.  Retaining the title since 1997, Hartsfield-Jackson remains in the pole position,according to the Airports Council International’s world traffic report, which was released on Sept. 16, 2019. More than 107 million passengers scurried along its lengthy concourses, rode its underground train (the Plane Train) and were lifted up and down its vertigo-inducing escalators, making it the busiest passenger airport in the world for 21 years in a row.
  • Changi Airport Singapore is voted the World’s Best Airport 2019 by international air travellers for the seventh consecutive year.

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  • KLM -Royal Dutch Airlines is the worlds’ oldest airline which was established in 1919. It recently celebrated 100 years of flying high!

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-M

PC: BusinessInsider;Wired;TheTelegraph;Airbus;Dailymail

Airports of the Future.

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In the past few years there has been a massive thirst for travel, whether for business or leisure. It’s as if the entire world is taking to the skies.

Aviation, although only somewhat acknowledged, has always been a catalyst for economic growth, enabling people and businesses to reach a global marketplace for goods and services and to travel for work, leisure or education.

Air freight is essential to modern life, but it is in the movement of people (precious cargo) that airports have the greatest effect on economic development.

Which is why, across the globe, airports are under intense pressure to expand and renew their facilities, with modern IT enabled services.

Airports are expensive. Maintaining them requires huge amounts of cash inflow. In an economic climate where governments are increasingly cutting expenditure to reduce debt, government financing and full ownership of airports is not always a sustainable or a sufficient source of revenue, hence privatization of airports is a must with the fundamental motive of arranging finances to upgrade or expand airports. Large amounts of  capital investments is needed by airports not only to keep operations smooth, since most of the work must be completed without interrupting current airport operations, but also to enable airports to make money from their investments.

Two-fifths of airport revenues in evolved airports around the world, come from retail and food outlets, car parking, advertising and other such ancillary revenues.

To stay in business, airports need to keep passengers streaming through their departure gates and through their shops, restaurants and bars. Plane tickets may be getting cheaper , but one way or the other, we all end up paying more for bigger, better airports by way of taxes and surcharges.

Airports of the future: areas set for radical change.

Airports are changing fast, as the rise of new technologies and growing environmental constraints play a crucial role in shaping the future of aviation. Airports are anything but static environments. Internal and external pressures are forcing hubs around the world to evolve into advanced, sustainable complexes offering a service that goes beyond mere transportation. Every competing global hub today vies to offer an experience like no other; newer attractions are being marketed as ‘destination airports’ rather than a ‘transiting’ one.

Baggage reclaim areas repurposed to increase capacity.

Barring the fully automated airport terminals around the world, there are still a lot many airports that need to address the issue of baggage handling, especially in smaller airports which provide the last mile connectivity. The issues of missing/ stolen baggage often leads to angst and stress amongst passengers and airport staff, not to mention the financial damages.

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Changi Airport

Shorter security checks.

Checkpoint screening systems will eliminate longer queues and recurring causes of disruption and delays at border controls. Airports are considering using technologies that can scan liquids and other materials from inside bags. Using advanced software and detection algorithms and 3D volumetric imaging, it would mean that passengers would no longer have to take liquids or electronic devices out of their bags.

Improving public transport links.

Many airports are working alongside partners and stakeholders to reduce their carbon footprint, from departure halls to the airport apron by improving surface access and train links and promoting public transport over cars.

This much-needed collaborative effort from both the railways and aviation could lead to higher volumes of rail travellers, cheaper trips and, in the long term, fewer cars reaching the airport every day.

If this concept proves effective, it would mean that airports can resize and re-use car parks to meet the growing capacity demands.

Biometric Scanners.

As part of the check-in process passengers will be scanned for biometric identifiers like facial features, iris patterns and fingerprints to verify their identities. This information is shared with immigration and security officials to streamline the arrival and departure process.

This technology, already undergoing trial at Heathrow, Schiphol, and Changi airports, could be used to track passengers from arrival to departure. It’s faster – and more reliable – than checking passports manually.

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Customer service: the rise of robots.

In the coming decades, robots are likely to take over several customer-facing jobs currently held by airport staff, especially as airports grow overcrowded.

Technology is already replacing admin jobs at check-in desks, with most airlines encouraging customers to use their apps for check-in and many implementing self-service bag drops.

But as years go by, we will likely say goodbye to staff working at bars and restaurants and many other areas of the departure hall, leaving space for robots.

As airplanes are changing to becoming more fuel and environment efficient so must airports too. From check in to disembarking, airport innovation should focus on offering efficiency.

Travellers world over are always on the lookout for a memorable travelling experience before they have even boarded the planes.

-M

 

 

OS:APH.com;AirportTechnology.com
PC:Telegraph.CO.UK;INdesignLiveSingapore;The National

Biometrics :The Checkpoint of the future.

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If you have recently travelled from any airport in the world, you would have noticed an obvious change in the entire security and boarding process. I’m talking about Biometrics here.

During the past few months, it has become clearer than ever before that biometrics technology will be at the heart of the airport of tomorrow.

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A number of international airports, including the likes of Changi Airport, SingaporeKempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru and Hong Kong International Airport, have emerged as front-runners in Asia, with all three committing to major biometrics-related projects that will play a crucial role in shaping the passenger experience.

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And not just for the travellers, biometric solutions have begun revolutionizing the airport experience for all its stakeholders involved – airlines, airport operations, vendors, government, and law enforcement agencies.

Up until about five years ago, biometrics was what we used in our mobile devices. Remember using your fingerprints to unlock your phones?

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Well today biometrics and facial recognition is bent on creating a seamless digital transformation in the aviation environment. This will enable a paperless, biometric-enabled passenger journey from registration to boarding. Facial recognition technology will identify passengers as they move through the different airport touch points, removing the need to present boarding passes, travel documents or passports at every stage.

And the focus on making travellers safer and the customer experience more convenient throughout the aviation journey – everything from check-in, bag-checks and security to airport shopping is taking shape.

Security is, of course, of the utmost importance, and rightly so – given the times we live in today.

Airport Security Groups along with Customs and Border Protection personnel are working daily (and nightly) to keep our skies safe, which is why biometrics is so important to the security process.

Having the ability to instantly verify that documents are valid and to match the identity and confirmed reservation of the traveller ensures that only genuine passengers move towards the boarding gates on the other side of the security line.

Biometric security enhancements are more accurate at screening individuals as well as quicker to get the lines moving faster through security.

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With the ability to predict wait times, passengers are able to spend more time doing what they choose, from relaxing in the lounge, to visiting duty-free shops.

Big change cannot be driven solely by the technology alone. More collaboration among industry stakeholders is critical to the success of the digital revolution in commercial aviation, for a better customer experience, improved commerce, cost and time-savings, optimized security and smoother airport operations.

Next time you’re at the airport, think about how biometrics could be improving airport operations, and making your life more secure.

 

 

 

 

 

OS:NEC Today; FTE
PC:Changi Airport; CondeNestTraveller; ABC News; CNA; APEA; CNN

Qantas ‘Project Sunrise’

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There is a palpable excitement in the air. The clock is ticking on, following the announcement that Qantas has put out on for testing an extremely long haul flight from the east coast of Australia (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) to London and New York.

Both Boeing and Airbus are working on providing an aircraft with ultra-long-range capabilities. The chosen plane needs to be capable of flying 10,573 miles nonstop, a journey which is pegged to take in the range of 21 hours in total.

Qantas will select the aircraft by end of this year. Till then the global attention is on the airline and speculation about its choice of aircraft is mounting.

‘Project Sunrise’ is Qantas’ goal to operate long haul research flights to gather data about both passenger and crew health on flying such a long journey. Three flights will be conducted in October, November and December and the data gathered will be used to track the health and well-being of passengers and crew members on board the approximately 19-hour long flight.

The Australian airline will carry 40 passengers and crew on two flights from New York to Sydney and another from London to Sydney.

The test passengers on the flights will mainly be Qantas employees, as well as scientists. Passengers and crew will be fitted with wearable technology devices to monitor sleep patterns and food and drink consumption, and to see how lighting, physical movement and in-flight entertainment impact their health.

For passengers the key will be in minimizing jet lag and creating an environment where they are looking forward to a restful, enjoyable flight.

For crew, it’s about using scientific research to determine the best opportunities to promote alertness when they are on duty and maximize rest during these flights.

Long-haul travel takes its toll on the body. Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), blood clots that can form particularly in the legs, is one peril. Nausea, Jet Lag and back pain from sitting for too long are another.   Airlines like Qantas will have to consider allowing more space for passengers to move if it goes ahead with its ambitious plan of across the world non- stop flight..

If all goes well, Qantas aims to operate regular, non-stop flights to London and New York from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne as soon as 2022/23.

Frankly for business travellers this could be a time saver but I have my doubts whether any family with kids would be keen on taking this flight. It would be an absolute nightmare keeping the kids cooped up in such a long flight. The lack of space, boredom and sheer monotony of air travel would be such a bother even with business class seats –read flat beds.

What about you? Would you be sold to the idea of flying non- stop from Sydney to New York for 21 hours straight? Please share your views in the comments.

 

 

 

OS:SimpleFlying; AustralianAviation; Business Insider
PC: Qantas

 

 

Chasing the sun!

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Using ‘Solar Power’ is increasing in popularity because it is versatile with many benefits to people and the environment. Every day, the sun gives off more than enough energy to meet the whole world’s energy needs. And since it is a clean source of energy there are no greenhouse gas emissions that are released into the atmosphere. Hence the environmental impact of solar power is significantly smaller than other power generation methods.

Addressing the issue of sustainable travel, Solar energy systems are increasingly being installed on the roofs of airport terminals and parking garages, as well as on the land surrounding tarmacs to harness the power of solar energy.

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Cochin International Airport

In 2015, Cochin International Airport in Kerala set an example for the rest of the world by contributing towards the environment, and being the first ever fully solar powered airport. Handling more than 10.2 million passengers in 2018-19 the airport was selected in 2018 for the coveted Champion of the Earth award, the highest environmental honour instituted by the United Nations.

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The airport has reduced the carbon footprint by over 3 lakh metric tonnes, which is equivalent to planting 3 million trees. Moreover, the airport is going one step ahead by generating electricity with eight small hydroelectric power projects and organic farms in the vicinity. Over the past few years, it has grown around 80 tonnes of organic vegetable in a year.

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Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport

In the US, an airport in Tennessee is now generating enough renewable energy to meet all its energy needs—a model that is soon replicated by other airports. The airport of the future, Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, has become the first airport in the country to generate all the power it needs through a solar farm.

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Terminal 2 Dubai

The trend in airports incorporating solar panels into their energy systems is taking off. –Athens International’s photovoltaic park produces more than 13 thousand MWh of emission-free electricity annually, corresponding to approximately 25% of the airport’s own electricity needs. This results in an average annual CO2 emissions reduction of 11,500 tonnes

A solar energy system made up of 15,000 solar panels was recently installed at Terminal 2 of Dubai International Airport.

A 183-acre farm at Indianapolis International Airport, which houses 87,478 solar panels, provides 22.2 megawatts of renewable energy for the region’s electric grid.

Denver International Airport has an impressive facility of a 56-acre, 10-megawatt solar farm with 42,614 solar panels.

Solar panels installed at Brisbane Airport produce an estimated 125 MWh/year of green energy, thereby saving 118 tonnes of CO2 per year

Kuala Lumpur Airport in Malaysia has the 19 megawatt plant which will help save the airport $750,000 in electricity costs and some 18,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

Today more than 100 airports worldwide have solar plants.

And speaking of airports, I wonder how soon it will be when we see commercial aircrafts using this renewable source of energy to fly.  Although quite a few manned and unmanned solar powered aircraft have been developed and flown in the last 30 years.

When the Wright brothers made their first maiden flight in a powered aircraft on a wind- swept beach in 1903, it was a short hop, skip and jump into the record books.

More than 70 years later the 1st  solar powered aircraft, The “Sunrise 1”, an unmanned vehicle -designed by Ray Buchard, on the 4th of November 1974 made their 1st maiden flight and flew 20 minutes at an altitude of around 100 m.

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In July 2016 with a journey that took a very long time—505 days to fly 26,000 miles (42,000 km) at an average speed of about 45 mph (70 kph) pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg successfully landed the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft in Abu Dhabi ,after flying around the world using only the power of the Sun.

Solar Impulse 2 aircraft is pulled out of its base for tests by pilot Bertrand Piccard in PayerneSelfie picture shows Swiss pioneer Bertrand Piccard during the last leg of the round the world trip with Solar Impulse 2 over the Arab peninsula
A selfie shows Swiss pioneer Bertrand Piccard during the last leg of the round the world trip with Solar Impulse 2 over the Arabian Peninsula on July 25, 2016

Although many of the solar powered aircrafts have wingspans as wide as the 737 passenger jets, but the similarities between them ends here.

Solar-powered planes present some “engineering challenges.” They are able to capture about 10 or 20 percent of the energy from the sun. That equates to a speed of only 50 miles per hour, whereas commercial passenger jets, travel at about 600 miles per hour.

So for now solar-powered aircraft are probably better suited for things like loitering over one area, collecting data for climate research, or conducting surveillance with cameras, than for moving people around.  But with technology evolving everyday it won’t be too far into the future when we see a “small seater solar powered commercial flight” taking off on its voyage. But for now that remains a dream!

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PC- CIAL;GatewayMagazine;Gulf News;HistoryChannel;TheAtlantic

 

 

Aviation Cyber Security

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Security has always been the number one priority for all airlines.

Today with enhanced technology, airlines can improve the connectivity of their flight operations and air traffic systems to achieve optimal financial and operational performance. Improved technology also helps airlines to better understand and target their customers.

Things in the aviation industry are changing faster than ever before. Consumer demand for live in flight entertainment choices, and on board WIFI connectivity for mobile devices used for streaming, is increasing and major carriers are bowing to the pressure as companies need to follow the trend to stay competitive.

Cyber security risk is a major concern for the airline industry. Given the highly sensitive nature of flight systems and passenger data, it’s no wonder that airlines are very concerned with how to deal with cyber threats.

And as all this data is stored in cyber space, it gives cyber criminals and hackers more sophisticated technology to perpetrate attacks that can lead to loss of valuable data and cause chaos and distress.

Today most airlines are using Radio (VHF) and SATCOM to connect pilots with ground crews and with airport and Air Traffic Control, leading to greater efficiency, but at the same time it is also leaving a huge gap where they create greater opportunities for cyber attackers and hackers.

While airline security procedures have been effective so far, there are changes in the industry that are creating more access points for hackers including:-

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1)The widespread use of tablet-based electronic flight bags (EFBs); EFBs are particularly popular with pilots as they have taken the place of heavy binders that pilots used to carry onboard.

2) The expansion of in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity systems.

3) The modernization of air traffic control, which uses NextGen to improve network efficiency by using GPS (global positioning system) that is software based and connected to the Internet.

4) e-Enabled ground and onboard systems.

5) Cargo handling and shipping.

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These threats need to be managed in a well planned and holistic manner with airlines closely cooperating with other carriers, hardware and software providers, along with airports, aircraft manufacturer’s and other industry stakeholders, as also their back-office IT, maintenance, operations, and consumer facing systems because failure in one area can affect others.

While an airline’s first goal is to prevent incidents, it is evident that threats in today’s environment cannot be entirely prevented.

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Overall, security procedures to date have been highly effective and airlines are trying to stop attacks from occurring both on the ground and in the air.

But without any uniform industry standards in place, each responsible airline has to consider how to reduce the risk of a cyber attack and how to deal with one when it happens.

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OS: PwC 2016 special report series: Cyber security and the airline industry.
PC: Shutter Stock; Aviation today; TTG Asia ;CTO Vision; Daily mail