The research, which was sponsored by satellite communications specialist Inmarsat, suggests that connecting aircraft with satellite communications can bring a range of benefits in areas including include fuel savings, a reduction in delays, innovations in maintenance processes, air traffic management enhancements, safety improvements and others.
According to the report, airlines can generate up to 1% savings in operating costs, or 20% of net profits, with savings reaching $15 billion by 2035.
Savings can be generated through innovations such as optimising flight routers in real time to improve fuel consumption; predictive maintenance, where real time data from the aircraft can be analysed with machine learning to identify developing maintenance issues; reductions in flight delays through better crew scheduling, and better navigation to avoid adverse weather conditions; and more efficient air traffic control through better data exchange.
Report author Dr Alexander Grous, from the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics, said: "The forecast doubling of aircraft in the skies by 2035 will create both challenges and opportunities for the global aviation industry. IP-enabled aircraft are an essential step in facilitating growing demand for air travel, while meeting vital safety requirements. The study's findings highlight not only the powerful commercial efficiencies for airline operations, but crucially, the resulting advantages for safety and environmental impact."
Frederik van Essen, Senior Vice President of Market and Business Development at Inmarsat Aviation, commented: "This report demonstrates that the connected aircraft is a shrewd commercial decision; unrivalled access to real-time data is reducing airlines' bottom-line operating costs while reducing emissions and improving safety. Not only that, enhanced connectivity is becoming an operational necessity as our skies become busier. With finite airspace available to accommodate increasing passenger numbers, airlines need to act now and consider the technology and infrastructure they need to future-proof their operations."