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Enhancing aircraft monitoring

Commercial strategy, Expert view, Financial investments, Industry trends

Enhancing aircraft monitoring and fleet management with satellite-based tracking data

October 16, 2023

Mehmet Erdogan, VP of Product – aircraft analytics for Cirium Ascend, explains how Cirium’s unique data capabilities are creating efficiencies and uncovering opportunities for investors, parts suppliers, MRO providers and airlines.

“Where has this aircraft actually flown?”

The task of monitoring aircraft and fleets has only become more complex in recent years. Investors, parts suppliers, MRO providers and airlines must navigate increasingly frequent adverse conditions, new sanctions and regulations, and the aftereffects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In this dynamic environment, having timely access to comprehensive, high-quality data is often the difference between catching a risk factor and facing financial penalties. The ability to make informed decisions quickly can be the difference between recognizing a commercial opportunity and missing out to a competitor.

We spoke to Mehmet Erdogan, VP of Product for Cirium Ascend, to explore the role of data in mitigating operational risk, and how Cirium is uncovering unique insights and facilitating faster decision-making with its new aircraft analytics tools.

What are the main challenges companies face when they’re managing, monitoring, and investing in aircraft assets?

Our research suggests three types of key challenges faced by our users, aircraft tracking data quality, product usability, and contextualizing why aircraft are on the ground.

The first is around the data completeness, timeliness and accuracy; a lot of the public sources use ground-based ADS-B trackers. When you get to parts of the world where it’s geographically difficult to track aircraft, like over oceans or mountains, or tracking is more restricted, ground-based tracking has its downsides.

Incompleteness of data could cost businesses hundreds of millions of dollars. Complete data enables businesses to catch that one flight that will cause an issue, track any challenges around a sanction, or better handle repossessions of aircraft from certain parts of the world.

When you need to monitor especially large fleets of aircraft, the usability of the interfaces with the underlying data is another issue. There are not many flexible solutions that offer a seamless experience around configuring, filtering, reporting and alerting, that allow users to identify and analyze aircraft of interest with ease and minimal effort.

Because this process is time-consuming, in most cases, businesses are forced to be reactive rather than proactive.

Lastly, you can see when aircraft are touching the ground, but not necessarily know why they are on the ground. Understanding if and why a ground stay was unscheduled, how long that aircraft is expected to stay on the ground, can be a mystery without talking to the airline.

So, if our users could proactively know exactly what their aircraft was doing, why it was doing it and where it was in any given point in time, that could solve a myriad of problems as well as avoiding headaches down the line.

What’s the difference between tracked and reported data, and what can you miss if you only rely on reported data?

When we say reported data, we mean the hours and cycles reported by the airlines and shared with the lessors, owners, or managers of the assets. 

There are a couple of challenges with that, firstly timeliness. The reported hours and cycles are at the discretion of the airline, they will have their own frequency with which they share the data.

The second problem is you typically get the total hours and cycles flown by an aircraft in a given month, so there is no way for you to drill into that flight-by-flight detail to understand what the specific aircraft was doing.

Therefore, it’s very difficult to validate, crosscheck, or understand the context of the hours and cycles that you’re getting from an airline.

At Cirium, we expanded our agreement with Aireon to incorporate live satellite-based aircraft tracking data into our aircraft positional analytics – flight tracking data which is the only ATS-grade surveillance data available.

This is the single most accurate source of the truth around what an airframe has been doing as we have fused Aireon’s data with Cirium’s proprietary flight status, schedule, fleet and weather data, which no other company can do.

In fact, since integrating the Aireon data we have seen the aircraft identification coverage increase to 91% for scheduled flights and a significant increase in unscheduled flights coverage from 10,000-15,000 flights per day to between 50,000-60,000.

So, if the priority is to avoid missing any important flights, especially in parts of the world where getting this data may be more challenging, then the satellite-based tracking data is not subject to the same restrictions that the ground-based tracking or reported data.

What can be achieved by combining and fusing datasets?

This is where I think Cirium differentiates itself; this data becomes more valuable as you fuse it with more datasets.

It increases the spectrum of the questions you answer, allowing you to drill down and answer specific questions with high confidence, and start projecting and predicting what is likely to happen in the future. This then starts becoming quite impactful to our customers.

For instance, when you combine flight tracking with fleets data, that allows you to filter down the global fleet to look at a whole airline, regions, lessors or custom portfolios, so you can easily monitor large groups of assets and pick out key patterns and trends.

Our upcoming Cirium Ascend Ground Events (Now released; learn more.) tool has taken this a step further; alongside the fleets and flight tracking data, it brings in our proprietary maintenance dataset as well. This shows which airports have maintenance capability, where maintenance providers are based, and the maintenance provider-airline relationships.

When we bring it all together, we’re then able to infer that there’s a high possibility that an aircraft is going through a C-check, or a heavy check, which you can only do if you have access to all three core datasets.

This then allows us to confidently support our customers’ business planning processes, their understanding of the market and competitive landscape, as well as a myriad of new use cases around aircraft ground stays, maintenance, and aftermarket activity.

How does Cirium make this data as useful and actionable as possible?

Our visual analytics and market intelligence tools are typically tailored around target audiences and workflows. Because the underlying data is vast, there are hundreds of different problems you can solve with it.

Therefore, we focus on specific use cases and solve them by bringing together our data, product management and user experience expertise, aiming to minimize the time to find an answer.

We know our customers will be asking many different questions, or they want to be looking at different parts of the global fleet, so we have built filtering and grouping capabilities that make it incredibly easy for them to drill down into the part of the market that they really care about.

We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to understand their aircraft assets, as well as any aircraft of interest across the global market.

Why can customers trust Cirium Ascend aircraft analytics platforms?

We are using the best data sources available, which our experienced teams research, curate and normalize, and are in a unique position to combine these datasets. We have also invested in user experience to make sure we provide the most flexible and easy-to-access tools with tailored workflows.

When you are working with Cirium Ascend, you can be sure you are accessing the most complete, up to date and accurate proprietary datasets, using the best technology to derive unique insights.

Learn more about Cirium Ground Events. To arrange a preview of upcoming Cirium Ascend products, contact our team.


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