If we turn our gaze towards the sky, we will see a multiplicity of airplanes heading for widely varying destinations all over the world. Regarding the brisk traffic high up in the air, it is scarcely conceivable that the amount of commercial planes will more than double in the next 20 years, up to over 42,000 aircraft. How is it possible that undesirable incidents do not occur permanently in this crisscrossed sky?

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    Overview of some flight trajectories, shown in the demonstration of Luciad, SAP and Lufthansa Systems

In order to guarantee a safety flight from start to land at a destination airport, a high-performance Air Traffic Management (ATM) is necessary. 2014 was the first year more than 100,000 flights per day were performed globally, or, in other words, every 0.8 seconds a plane took off or landed. Rising tendency with no end of growth in sight!


Thus, keeping the track of every single aircraft is like looking for a moving needle in a moving haystack. In the following I want to amplify the guiding component of every performed flight worldwide and highlight the role of the latest technology trends of a smart connected, digital world, assuring a safety return of every passenger, who were heaven’s guest.



Broadly spoken, ATM Software is used by air traffic controllers, who tell the aircraft to go up or down, turn right or left, speed up or slow down. Modern cross-linked ATM are able to do more than the “simple” avoiding of collisions, since ATM ensures additionally the most efficient and quickest flight routes. An air traffic controller must have the possibility to make compromises quickly between flying time, detours, fuel consumption, bad weather constellations, changing flight plans and other unexpected events such as unscheduled traffic and emergency situations. To enable this, the aviation industry has decided to use the incredible capabilities of Big Data Analysis, as well as Internet of Things (IoT).


The latest release of SAP HANA SPS10 brings new spatial features and enhancements, such as support for multidimensional geometries and on-the-fly spatial coordinate transformations. In 2014 SAP and Luciad started a cooperation, as LuciadLightspeed offers the integration of 3D spatial visualization to SAP HANA. Lufthansa Systems, global market leader in providing ATM solutions, has started to care about the increasing number of flights at an early stage. They aim at tracking and coordinating the flights in 4D (all three spatial directions and time as 4th dimension) and real-time, since at the moment every flight is just simulated several times before the departure. To face this challenge, Lufthansa Systems has begun to explore the idea of an in-memory operational big data store and perfect flight operations using IoT.  Because the collaboration of SAP and Luciad provides real-time situational awareness and consequently optimization of fuel and crew costs, Christoph Krüger, lead architect of Lufthansa Systems, is extremely satisfied, said:

“The spatial engine in SAP HANA has given us the ability to track thousands of flights per day on a rich 3D mapping interface that includes both spatial and temporal coordinates. At the same time, we were able to uncover breakthrough application scenarios that would not have been possible without the SAP HANA platform.”


You should find out how ATM works by watching the amazing demonstration, how the impact of weather events can be easily analyzed and impacted flight trajectories can be rerouted in real-time.




It is a win-win situation! By combining the leading technology solutions of SAP and Luciad with the business know-how of Lufthansa Systems, airlines can save hundreds of thousand dollars, the impact of air travel on the environment is reduced and, most important, a fast and safe journey for the passengers is provided.

This is just another example of a valuable key contribution of digital transformation, turning the world into a smarter one. So do not fear! Cutting-edge ATM software will be able to cope with the continuing growth of aviation industry and keep the track of every moving needle in the moving haystack in 4D at any time.



Other examples of digital transformation in Aerospace:

Everything in manufacturing needs to be digital


Fasten your seatbelts! Next generation of finance transformation is on the way


Predictability in manufacturing leads to profitability



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5 Reasons why Chinese aircraft manufacturer will become a global contender


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