The aviation sector is more advanced in leveraging digital transformation than the other major industries surveyed, according to the IFS Digital Change survey results released today The study, conducted by global enterprise applications company IFS, identified automation as having the highest level of disruption in the aviation sector.
Unplanned maintenance was ranked as the biggest challenge facing airline operational availability with augmented reality (AR) named as a key technology to help combat this.
Of the commercial aviation companies surveyed, 44 per cent regarded themselves as advanced in leveraging digital transformation – ahead of the other industries that participated: construction and contracting (39 per cent), manufacturing (29 per cent), service (23 per cent) and oil and gas (19 per cent).
When asked about the technology drivers behind their digital transformation, respondents ranked automation as the most disruptive, followed by big data, robotics, augmented reality and IoT (the Internet of things).
Almost 60 per cent of respondents reported operational availability as a significant challenge in commercial aviation, with 68 per cent of organisations in the Asia-Pacific region and 46 per cent in North America reporting it as their biggest challenge.
Just under half of the respondents ranked both unplanned maintenance and regulatory compliance (both 47 per cent) as having the biggest impact on operational availability, closely followed by contractual restrictions (43 per cent).
Looking at potential solutions, 77 per cent of aviation professionals said AR technologies could help technical teams better react to unplanned maintenance. Aviation companies based in North America (65 per cent) and Europe, the Middle East and Asia (67 per cent) said remote support through technologies such as AR could eventually be as effective as in-person engineers, but that they did not anticipate full replacement of local engineer teams in the next decade – 53 percent in Asia-Pacific agreed.
When asked about areas of investment, IoT and big data analytics tied as the top ranked, each identified by 39 per cent of respondents. One third of aviation professionals (33 per cent) also listed ERP as a key focus. Others in the top five included artificial intelligence (37 per cent) and mobile computing and applications (31 per cent).
“The commercial aviation industry is at the forefront of digital transformation, so it comes as no surprise airlines are looking at automation and other innovative technologies to address key pain points,” said Graham Grose, vice president and industry director at the aviation and defence business unit, IFS.
“Augmented reality is the perfect fit to quickly address unscheduled maintenance events – many of which occur in difficult to reach locations with limited availability of skilled engineers on the ground. Rather than flying out a team of engineers to address this challenge, augmented reality offers the possibility of one-to-many knowledge transfer, helping return aircraft to operational status as quickly as possible and solving the impending maintenance engineer shortage in the industry.”