Gogo, the in-flight internet provider, has underwritten a hefty report into what the Internet of Things (IoT) means for the aviation sector. One of its key calls is for the creation of industry standards around connectivity in commercial aviation.
While the report focuses heavily on airline operations, the new reality of how technical systems interact with each other suggests that there may also be an eventual impact for players on the marketing, distribution, and business intelligence sides of air travel, too.
The aviation sector may struggle to create standards for inter-operability with IoT systems without taking into account external stakeholders. The adoption of commercial off-the-shelf technology and of Internet connectivity on aircraft has opened aviation's world to a galaxy of other systems.
The report has quotes from an all-star cast of leaders, such as Bob Crandall, the former CEO of American Airlines, Michael Porter, a strategy professor at Harvard Business School, and an array of CEOs and CTOs from aviation companies, including Air Canada, Boeing, Cisco, Delta, Honeywell, and Vueling.
The report's experts call for standards to be defined for the following things:
- Data formatting
- Cyber-security standards
- Communication protocols
- Requirements for availability, latency, and redundancy
- Data policies
- Network segregation
One of the thorniest issues on the list may be data policies. The report notes a possible way of re-framing the broader issues:
"Data ownership is different than data access. Instead of focusing on who owns the data, the more pertinent question may be: “How can the industry successfully establish a plan to manage data privacy and share permissions?” In many ways, this is similar to how libraries operate.
Just as patrons who are granted permission to join a library are able to check out books, partners in the aviation world could access data. Authors retain ownership of information, while the library acts as the repository that manages information transfers. Such hub sharing allows members to access more information than they could individually."
The broader issues at hand are complex, though. The report also quotes from Crandall as saying:
"These are enormously interesting issues that will drive discussion for many years to come.
Years ago, in the early days of reservations systems, we grappled with the question of who owned and who could use flight information. While those questions are now settled, the proliferation of systems gathering more and more data will raise new ownership and use issues, many of which will bear on the industry’s ability to optimize operations via data sharing. Although these questions seem less pressing than immediate operational concerns, they are important, and deserve careful thought."
The report expresses optimism that the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Air Transport Association will be able to lead the effort for uniformity of standards.
But, as in other industries, establishing standards can be even harder than building technologies in the first place.
Find the report free to download at: RiseOfConnectedAviation.com