Now more than ever, it’s important for airline operators to take full advantage of the wireless connectivity options available to them. When developing aircraft, the leading OEMs prioritize including a robust array of connectivity features. Meanwhile, mobile network providers have been partnering with airports worldwide to further build on this vision of connectivity – where the majority of airports are now serviced by strong and reliable mobile networks, in addition to Wi-Fi. Broad mobility empowers ground crews and flight crews alike, allowing companies to operate more efficiently while also better serving the needs of employees and customers.
Here are a few ways aviation staff can use mobile networks and devices to make work easier and more efficient.
Pilots – using mobile networks for Electronic Flight Bags (EFB)
The emergence of Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) has opened a whole new world for pilots. As EFB functionality continues to evolve, these devices increasingly rely on cellular connectivity to deliver up-to-the-minute data. Over a secure and reliable network, EFBs not only help to ensure pilots have up-to-the-minute data, but they also eliminate the need for bulky paper binders – literally lightening the load for your employees.
And it’s more than just a better experience. American Airlines estimates that EFBs save them 400,000 pounds of jet fuel every year. The impact is clear. EFBs cut costs and increase efficiencies, and therefore should be adopted by all in the aviation industry, large and small carriers alike.
Ground crews – using preventative maintenance to avoid long ground delays
“Aircraft on Ground” (AOG) time is a crucial factor to any carrier’s bottom line. It’s important to maximize the amount of time an aircraft is serving customers, and effectively using IoT data can help ensure no aircraft is grounded for long. New aircraft sensors can now collect more data on various plane subsystems, enabling carriers to improve their maintenance crews’ situational awareness via mobile devices to proactively determine maintenance needs.
These sensors automatically detect and report faults to maintenance teams on the ground, reducing the need for flight crews to manually report issues to them. Real-time data is collected and analyzed, and if any part of the plane is performing poorly while in flight, ground staff mechanics can receive the news and arrive with the necessary replacement parts as the plane taxis to the gate. For this reason, aircraft manufacturers are continually increasing the number of components and systems that can connect to a wireless network.
When it comes to wireless network options, Wi-Fi coverage is rarely consistent and reliable across an entire airport – especially in obstructed spaces like under the wing or in more remote outdoor areas. Cellular networks, on the other hand, can provide enhanced connectivity from aircraft to ground crews, everywhere you operate.
Gate agents – assisting passengers with mobile devices in-hand
Gate agents have a great number of responsibilities, such as ensuring security procedures are followed and communicating with the cabin crew and pilots. Leveraging mobile technology enables them to do all these things more efficiently and effectively. For example, mobile connectivity empowers agents to assist customers with boarding aircraft more quickly. By using mobile devices connected to mobile networks, your gate agents can be more agile in how they address diverse customer needs and security procedures.
Flight attendants – receiving information via Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs)
Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) continue to make life easier for flight attendants, helping enable connected experiences for flights crews whether in flight, traveling, or at home.
On the plane, flight attendants depend on PEDs to deliver a personalized and efficient experience to every customer. Flight attendants use their connected devices to share up-to-date flight information with passengers in real time.
PEDs can make compliance easier as well. For instance, flight attendant manuals are required to be updated regularly, per the Federal Aviation Administration. In an analog world, company-wide changes generate the need to print new pages, remove or replace old pages, or make wholesale changes to the manuals. This complexity can mean tedious and error-prone updates for each revision, especially when distributing multiple hard copies. These changes can instead be made once digitally and transferred to wireless network-connected PEDs, helping to improve not only compliance, but also productivity.
After landing, the “Personal” in PED comes to the fore, as flight attendants head to their homes or hotels, where they’re increasingly free to unwind by streaming movies, TV, and music through unlimited data perks, or to simply call and text with friends and family – from wherever they are in the world that night.
Whether at home, aboard an aircraft, or waiting on the apron, a reliable network connection is key to effective PED devices. Without service they can count on, PEDs are significantly less powerful. In the air, where partnerships provide network coverage with In-Flight Connection or other satellite internet providers, connectivity is essential. On the ground, where PEDs allow flight crews to track their time and their flight schedules, the devices are dependent on notoriously spotty Wi-Fi or inconsistent international coverage. Lapses in connectivity can mean the difference between devoting time to meeting customer needs or to troubleshooting a bad connection. A strong cellular network, on the other hand, connects your employees where they are. To keep your flight attendants as connected as possible, it is essential to have access to a reliable and strong network.
Delivering a connected employee experience
Whether working to recruit or retain new employees, demonstrating a focus on a streamlined mobile experience is an opportunity to stand out in the crowd.
Opportunities to improve the employee experience abound, whether through expanding and enhancing your EFB program, equipping your airport crew with more dynamic equipment, or unlocking productivity across the world with flexible and affordable cellular service. And, as if improving your staff’s experience wasn’t enough, enhanced mobility also makes business sense. Over 60 percent of enterprise leaders with a defined mobility investment strategy see positive ROI within 12 months.
T-Mobile for Business has been partnering with the aviation industry for years, leading us not only to grow our expertise, but also to prioritize investments in network coverage at airports large and small, helping to ensure your team is connected.
T-Mobile for Business is a Platinum Sponsor of FTE Global, hosted by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) and taking place in LA on 19-21 September 2023.Register for FTE Global 2023 >>