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  • Tech Journalist

Startups want airlines to get Cloud-based tools to avoid tech crashes

While starting a wholesale business with a new IT infrastructure is probably unrealistic, the industry should take advantage of cloud-based tools that can integrate real-time airline data controls.

The airline IT market has been dominated for decades by a few large companies such as Amadeus IT Group SA, Saber Corp, TravelSky Technology Ltd, Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Societe Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques (SITA). In addition to startups, aircraft and engine manufacturers such as Boeing Co, Airbus SE, Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC and General Electric are also developing their digital solutions.

It was advised that Airlines should use new cloud-based tools to avoid recent damage caused by outdated and patched technology from Southwest Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These tools offer a way to make airline systems more automated and less dependent on older technologies that can require manual updates and are increasingly expensive to airline consultants.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimated the cost of US flight delays in 2019 amounted to $33 billion. According to market research, digital solutions can halve the cost of unplanned operations, making airline disruption management a growth opportunity for technology providers.

United Airlines uses mainframes and other database systems to handle operations such as reservations, pricing, baggage tracking and aircraft loading.

Connecting data points from different systems helps airlines train AI-based systems to unlock the biggest innovations, like predictive maintenance and passenger personalisation.

The French-Dutch airline uses its own software to power its decision tool, which recommends optimal flight and aircraft assignments and takes into account constraints such as fuel consumption and aircraft flight hours. While the optimisation solution has been around for decades, the company has applied new mathematical techniques to spit out results faster.

Barcelona-based startup Big Blue Analytics similarly uses techniques such as linear programming to solve optimisation problems such as aircraft assignment. The company also aims to create a complete platform that finds solutions for flights, aircraft, maintenance, crews and passenger routes simultaneously, rather than sequentially as current systems do.

The newer cloud-based infrastructures and databases can scale horizontally, meaning they can tap into the Internet's distributed computing resources when needed. This design allows information to flow more freely, reducing the likelihood that interruptions can turn into system-wide shutdowns.

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