For the highest level of punctuality, airlines rely on ground crew to direct the operations necessary to get the planes airborne on time. Employees such as flight managers and ramp agents use data from many sources for their work. In order to avoid flight delays, the international airline Lufthansa wanted to give its ground staff access to real-time data at all times and asked the IBM iX experts for help.
“Flight managers love the app: at long last they don’t need to carry lists around, spend eight hours a day on the phone locating people and find a computer somewhere in the terminal to look for data.”
On a typical workday, a flight manager is responsible for up to 15 departures and travels more than 10km between gates – mostly whilst on calls to the back office for important updates. Flight managers coordinate refuelling, catering, flight attendants, cleaning, baggage and cargo loading, and much more. Lufthansa ground staff spent a lot of time with paper lists or looking for a computer in order to view the latest data and reconcile inconsistent data from different sources. Management asked themselves how they could consolidate relevant data from a multitude of backend systems and make it digitally accessible to flight managers in real time.
Lufthansa envisaged a mobile solution. In collaboration with potential users, and with a user-oriented, agile approach, the IBM iX team developed a solution to support three different roles in daily operations. IBM Aviation App Suite offers three services: Manage Gates, Turnaround Manager and the Ramp App. Manage Gates provides flight managers with real-time information from multiple sources. For example, you can see which arriving flights are carrying passengers with connecting flights and decide immediately whether to hold back the arrival of another flight. This saves time, reduces errors and helps avoid delays. The data is consolidated in an interactive iOS application. The Turnaround Manager App supports pilots, ramp agents and flight mangers and ensures that all relevant process information is up to date and that important information can be shared easily. In addition, the Ramp App provides direct access to detailed cargo and baggage loading data, consolidating data that was previously spread across multiple systems.
With the IBM Aviation App Suite, Lufthansa employees have access to all air traffic data in real time. This has resulted in faster aircraft turnaround times, a smoother in-flight experience for passengers and better ground crew productivity. The new solution makes flight operations more efficient and reduces costs through fewer delays. Lufthansa and IBM are exploring the possibilities of iOS and cloud-enabled services such as artificial intelligence to offer further services that build on the IBM Aviation App.
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