Airbus leveraging IoT and IBM’s Watson for connected aircraft
How IoT is helping Airbus to make better planes - and bigger revenues

Airbus leveraging IoT and IBM’s Watson for connected aircraft

Aircraft manufacturing giant Airbus have announced their intention to incorporate Watson IoT technologies into both its planes and operations.

The news came during the unveiling of IBM’s Watson IoT at the company’s German offices in Munich, with Airbus SVP Laurent Martinez speaking at length about the combination of data and aviation moving forward.

Comparing his company’s older planes to their newest model, Martinez described how Airbus now have “400,000 data parameters on our new A350, compared with only 20,000 parameters on our older A320”. The sheer complexity and depth of data collected from IoT is clear, but how this is to be translated into value for customers is yet to be defined completely.

But, Martinez suggested, the generation of all this new information has several potential applications. There will be “in the order of 250GB of data collected per flight on an A350”, with three avenues of digital operations as a result. These include the way passengers are moved between gate A and gate B, in-flight experience and aircraft operations and maintenance.

The bottom line is that the ‘cognitive computing’ of IBM’s Watson will be leveraged by Airbus to create a platform known as ‘Smarter Fleet’. Martinez revealed that Airbus are introducing “a number of cognitive applications around fuel efficiency, maintenance capabilities, and operational optimisation of the aircraft.”

There are currently 200 airlines operating with ‘Smarter Fleet’ solutions, including the likes of BA and EasyJet, and it is now Airbus’ “ambition to evolve that and develop into a leader in this market”.

With successful implementation of IoT technology comes the opportunity to customise aircraft maintenance, and given the huge amount of data now being collected from sensors and other connected devices, the likelihood of valuable, actionable insights has never been bigger.

Martinez concluded by saying that the “time to market is a critical element, and cutting edge technologies, secure solutions, and safe and sustainable systems will be of paramount importance to make [our vision] happen”.