A digital open-data platform with Airbus Services

In Airbus’ Paris Air Show display area, Airbus Services is presenting for the first time its new “Flight Hour Services powered by Skywise” – the company’s open-data platform of reference for all major aerospace players. The new service will identify required parts for customers’ aircraft, locate the nearest worldwide logistics centre where these parts are stored, and track their delivery to customers, to be provided at the right time. Powered by Skywise, Flight Hour Services can be used directly by airlines’ maintenance control centres or by Airbus for its full FHS service on all Airbus aircraft.

Since launching Skywise at the 2017 Paris Air Show, Airbus has progressed from four “early adopter” airlines to 80-plus operators, growing from a few hundred aircraft supplying data for the platform to more than 6,000 today, according to Marc Fontaine, Head of Airbus’ Digital Transformation Office. There are over 10,000 unique monthly users on the Skywise platform, involving airlines, suppliers and users within Airbus.

Airbus’ evolution of the Skywise offer includes the Paris Air Show announcement of the first Skywise digital services for the leasing community, with CDB Aviation and CALC signing up as the initial customers.

Skywise provides all users with one secure, cloud-based platform for aviation data that is aggregated and anonymised, and which is enriched from multiple sources across the industry – including airline operators and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The more data that airlines and OEMs share in the Skywise Core platform, the more accurate the predictions and models for the connected users.

By adopting Skywise, airlines will benefit from a “supercharged” and ever-evolving digital platform, enabling operating efficiencies, savings and revenue opportunities which are achieved by reducing operational interruptions, burning less fuel, operating more efficiently, reducing workload and leaving room for third-party services (mostly in maintenance). 

An exponential growth for the Skywise services platform

Fontaine said the exponential growth of Skywise users underscores how fast digital transformation is advancing in aviation. “This shows how an industry that many people expected to be a late adopter of digital technologies can take the lead…or could be subject to disruption if it does not accept the revolution that is happening.”

The digital transformation process was a major challenge for Airbus, according to Fontaine, who noted “there is no textbook on how to apply digital transformation to industrial systems such as aerospace and aviation.”

In reviewing Airbus’ digital transformation to date, Fontaine said one of the lessons learned was that multiple “digital foundations” are needed to be put in place, including information management (IM) and data governance.

Fontaine explained that the transformation of information management is essential, as companies such as Airbus were previously focussed on the core capabilities of engineering, manufacturing and supply. “While IM was a more ‘remote’ support function in the past, it is becoming blended in everything we do today – from design and manufacturing to services – so we need to completely transform the profile and pre-eminence of our IM departments,” he explained.

Data governance also is vital, Fontaine added, especially for the Skywise services platform – as it gathers data from the airline operators and suppliers, as well as from within Airbus. “Data governance involves issues ranging from who owns the data and who gives access rights to how we share it with the airlines, and when suppliers can access the data,” he said. “Dealing with data governance is a huge challenge, requiring a tremendous effort to put policies in place, and to ensure the proper execution of these policies.”

Expanding the reach of Airbus’ services portfolio

Other services programme updates announced during the Paris Air Show include Airbus’ integration of the A220 programme – its newest single-aisle jetliner family member – into its Customer Support & Services network. On the new business side, Chilean low-cost carrier SKY Airline was identified as the launch customer for the new Airbus Chile Training Centre; completion of the first A380 full-cabin retrofit for Singapore Airlines, performed collaboratively by SIA Engineering Company and Airbus Services, was introduced at the show as well.

“Services are core to the Airbus strategy, optimising the aircraft operations until dismantling and improving efficiency throughout the full life cycle,” Rémi Maillard, Head of Airbus Services, explained to the media during a press conference.