Connectivity and digital revolutionising
Abu Dhabi’s Global Aerospace Summit to herald in smart travel era
09 February, 2016 – Dubai, UAE: As connectivity and digital solutions disrupt and reinvent the commercial aviation landscape, analysts are predicting they will transform the entire industry and passenger travel experience in as little as five years.
The trends that will inform the emerging travel revolution are to come under the industry microscope in Abu Dhabi this March as 1,000 of the world’s C-suite aviation executives meet in the Global Aerospace Summit to debate and map out how innovation can meet future industry demands.
The shape of the aerospace and defence industry to come will be the focus of a key Summit strategy session – “Soaring Into The Next 100 Years: Leveraging Digital Technologies to Achieve Operational Excellence.”
Chaired by John Schmidt, Global Managing Director for Accenture’s Aerospace and Defense practice, the session will debate how digital and new technologies help support growth, improve programme performance, harness the digital revolution and foster an “extended enterprise” enabling risk reduction, agility, efficiency and innovation.
“As the industry passes 100 years of commercial service, a totally new era filled with powerful market forces and disruptive digital technologies is presenting new mandates for building, operating and maintaining commercial, military and space products,” said Schmidt. “These forces are reshaping the future of the industry that is becoming all about the use of digital strategies and capabilities to accelerate delivery times, capture new business opportunities and deliver more personalised services to customers.”
And the ability of wearable technology to provide instant access to critical information, improve quality and increase collaboration will be high on the agenda, according to Schmidt. “This technology enhances existing workflows and opens new opportunities in many aspects of the aerospace and defense industry. Wearable technology is increasing workforce productivity while reducing the risk of errors. Using this hands-free technology also improves safety in complex assembly or maintenance activities.”
Innovation will be the hallmark of aviation’s future with technology as its growth engine, according to Chafik Hilal, Managing Director Middle East, Rockwell Collins and a member of the Summit’s elite advisory board.
“One of the things that will take this to the next level is connectivity,” said Hilal. “Right now passengers want the ability to arrive and transit through the airport and get in the air as fast as they can and this is part of the innovation I can see for the future – connectivity – where they get in and in a very short time are flying. Once they are on the flight they want to be connected like they were on the ground so this is a very exciting time and we will see it in the very near future.”
Yet the enterprise mobility management provider AirWatch says the transformation has already begun with extensive use of the Electronic Flight Bag and moves to make fleet manuals, crew bulletins, and training materials more accessible to crew off-line. Content will also be accessed from mobile devices in the cockpit and downloads managed while roaming, streamlining aircraft operations. Flight data is now searchable on iPads and synchronised over-the-air to improve productivity.
Moves are also afoot to begin equipping cabin service managers with managed iPads to handle passenger preferences, meal arrangements and travel plans to elevate the onboard passenger experience.
Ian Evans, AirWatch EMEA Managing Director, says mobility in aviation is the industry game-changer and predicts a “massive transformation” of the airline, airport and passenger experience within the next two-five years.
“The transformation has already started,” says Evans. “Pilots aren’t the only ones using mobile devices in-flight. Cabin services employ mobile devices to optimise customer service. Custom applications provide information on passenger preferences, meals and travel plans. Passengers are going mobile for their in-flight entertainment, including movies, television shows, magazines and even for reading the required safety manuals. Mobility also has huge potential to massively enhance loyalty programmes.”
It is estimated that 84% of airports are investing in mobile services today catering to 97% of passengers who are carrying mobile devices when travelling. However, according to SITA’s latest Airport Transport Insights Report, only about half of all passengers are keen to use mobile services that will help them at key points in the journeys. Almost 50% of airports are now enabling passengers to get flight information via apps and around 67% of airlines are enabling passengers to buy tickets, check-in and access flights information through applications on their smartphones.
H.E. Ali Majed Al Mansoori, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports, said: "High-tech integration and connectivity plays an important part of our strategy for future development. The Midfield Terminal Building will have the very latest technology in every system that is installed, exceeding global standards with its innovative solutions. This will provide passengers with an unrivalled airport experience, and the airport operations and management teams will have an integrated infrastructure platform that will streamline processes to make the airport run as efficiently as possible."
Airlines are quickly moving towards creating more connectivity for guests and improving the digital experience. Etihad Airways, the Summit’s official airline, recently defined its digital strategy and reimagined the guest travel experience across the group.
Hani El-Assaad, SITA President Middle East, India and Africa says the connectivity trend will enable passengers to be connected via mobile at every stage of their journey. “This creates an opportunity for airlines and airports to enable continuous engagement with their passengers, from the moment they start to think about booking a flight, through to arriving at the airport and boarding the aircraft, through to when they reach their destination. At each stage in this journey there’s scope to offer a personalised and more relevant service to their customers.
“Looking ahead, the opportunity and the new frontier for mobile passenger services will be providing real-time, location specific data enabling passengers to personalise the services they use to suit their needs on their journey, building a more intimate relationship with airlines and airports.”
The connectivity and digital technologies discussion is just one of a number of dedicated strategy sessions at the Summit, which will run on March 7 and 8 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). Some 1,000 C-Suite leaders from the aviation, defence, aerospace and space industries will attend the gathering which has innovation as its central theme.
“These industries are changing at a phenomenal pace with the breakneck speed adoption of digital technologies certain to usher in ground-breaking gate-to-gate and door-to-door travel experiences,” said Nick Webb, Managing Partner of Streamline Marketing Group (SMG), which organises the biennial Summit. “Though this particular strategy session will put a spotlight on connectivity and digital innovation, the issue will also raise its head in a number of other key sessions as its impact is far-reaching across a number of industries and segments.”
Hosted by Mubadala Development Company, the 2016 Summit, the third in the series, is part of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Aviation and Aerospace Week, which is held under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Abu Dhabi Airports Company is backing the Summit as an official event partner.