Data science provides great opportunities for the aviation industry to improve products and processes. Despite the abundance of data and tools the application of data science in aviation is still limited. Biggest constraints are the lack of recognition that data can be used more effectively and there is a shortage of data scientists that have the required skills and possess domain knowledge.
What is data science?
There are many definitions of data science. One definition reads: “Data science is the study of where information comes from, what it represents and how it can be turned into a valuable resource in the creation of business strategies. Mining large amounts of structured and unstructured data to identify patterns can help an organization rein in costs, increase efficiencies, recognize new market opportunities and increase the organization’s competitive advantage.”
Data science and the airline industry
The aviation sector gathers and stores a large amount of unstructured, heterogeneous data – safety data and reports, flight plans, navigation data, airport data, radar tracks – from multiple sources – airlines, ANSPs and airports. While the collection of information through different data sensors has been growing exponentially over the last years, the application of data science to the data has not. This conclusion of the 2013 workshop on Data Science in Aviation is still valid today.
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Some progress has been made by applying data science to marketing needs – analysis of IFE preferences. This sector may be more advanced at airline marketing departments than at some airports. In airport and airspace operations data science applications have a lot of potential, but data is not being capitalised fully. Organizations are unaware of the potential value or don’t have the expertise required to turn data into actionable knowledge.
A successful example of data science enhanced operations
Data science can increase predictability and efficiency of operations, even when confronted with unpredictable things like weather. While few successful applications can be found beyond the proof of concept stage, there are some data science enhanced operations already active. An example is our runway and capacity forecasting system developed for KLM, see https://kdc-mainport.nl/2015/10/14/capacity-and-runway-predictions-2/.
Organizations cannot risk losing any competitive advantage they have by not investing in their data. Therefore, organizations should assess how data science can be applied to their data. This requires data science expertise that may not be readily available within the own organization. Attracting data scientist can be difficult, because they are much sought after in all industries.
About To70. To70 is one of the world’s leading aviation consultancies, founded in the Netherlands with offices in Europe, Australia, Asia, and Latin America. To70 believes that society’s growing demand for transport and mobility can be met in a safe, efficient, environmentally friendly and economically viable manner. For more information, please refer to www.to70.com