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When I was about 10 years old and on my first weekend away in the city I was offered a choice of an outing either to Dublin Zoo or Dublin Airport. It was no contest. In those days my geography books at school detailed the aviation and telecommunications industries in the chapter titled ‘communications infrastructure’. The airline industry globalized the world long before the internet – now they both do so together.

Today there are 7 billion people on the planet, exactly double the population when I was born. More than 70% have access to a mobile phone and all have an ambition to travel. The reach of aviation is expanding rapidly and that the industry remains the first ultra safe transportation system is an amazing accomplishment. It is much safer to get on a plane than to take your car out on the highway. But this success in safety management has never been just assumed, its been fought hard for at every step. As British Airways’ new TV ad describes it ‘their safety systems were built from brain and heart’.

Today, the speed and power of analytics offers the aviation industry greater capability for safety management than ever before. Solutions like HANA and SAP Business Objects Event Insight offer great promise of analysing flight operational data in real time to spot leading indicators of risk and raise alerts for immediate intervention.

We invited the Flight Safety team at British Airways to come to Innojam in Madrid this weekend with aircraft black box and maintentace data. What better way to put HANA and SAP Business Objects Event Insight through its paces than to simulate a flight safety incident and trawl the data to search for leading indicators? What if the aviation industry could monitor current and historic events data in real time and raise an alert in real time to indicators that might otherwise go unnoticed?

I was absolutely thrilled when British Airways agreed to come along to Madrid and bring their data and risks models with them. (I’m a 7 year veteran of BA before joining SAP and I’ll always be a bit of a plane spotter.)  Safety is undoubtedly a sensitive issues for the entire industry so it’s especially great that BA agreed to roll back the covers for our Innojammers.

On Sunday the BA team will present a simulation where a pilot finds that the aircraft flaps are defective on final approach. The pilot executes a ‘go around’ before landing the aircraft at a higher speed and touches down further down the runway that would normally be allowed due to the defective flaps. The team will provide a number of years worth of simulated flight data, pilot logs and maintenance records. The team will also provide details of safety recovery procedures and risk model assumptions.

Then our brave Innojammers – should they take up the challenege – will have 30 hours to innovate the next generation safety management system for civil aviation.  

To the best of my knowledge such an exercise has never been undertaken in this way, anywhere, ever before.

You can read more about this from British Airways’ Alex Donaldson in his post to Idea Place.  

See you in Madrid.   

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