Trip Report-Airline & Aerospace MRO & Flight Operations IT Conference – EMEA

The Aircraft Commerce and Aircraft-IT Airline & Aerospace MRO & Flight Operations IT Conference – EMEA occurred at Heathrow between June  7 and 9, 2022. It was the Aircraft Commerce group’s first face-to-face conference in over two years. As the kick-off conference for a renewed normal, it was a huge success. Numbers were significant, the highest attendance on record supported by a sold-out exhibition space, representing the importance of airline and supplier collaboration in restoring the industry to its pre-covid levels of activity and operational excellence. Kudos to Ed, Charles and the whole team for another well-organised, informative and relevant conference.

Highlights of the Conference

Flight Optimisation Software

Flight Optimisation software examples outnumbered every other system type on display at the conference, reinforcing the supplier community’s perception of the importance airlines place on fuel economics even under the extreme cash flow stress of COVID. While fuel saving is no doubt a vital issue for airlines, it was interesting to see the saturation of these systems in the showroom displays. One supplier noted that “flight efficiency or flight profile optimisation (FPO) software is all airlines are telling us they want.” Perhaps that’s a perception of that particular supplier because every supplier booth was bustling throughout the conference.

Supporting the FPO view, one discussion demonstrated a particular airline’s experience with these software tools. By adopting operational nuances like ‘Single Engine Taxi Out’ and ‘Single Engine Taxi In’, uninterrupted climb and descent and flying an abbreviated STAR, the airline demonstrated what it described as a “perfect flight.” The “perfect flight”,  the title of the presentation, showed measurable and statistically significant fuel saving over the flight. However, the demonstrably successful outcome relied on considerable upfront effort and time to set arrangements with the relevant ANSPs and airports to ensure direct and uninterrupted taxiing and departure and the same on arrival. The flight “saved” 371 (exactly) kg of fuel compared to a “normal” flight along the same route (LHR-GLA) by the same aircraft. The presentation was informative and exemplified what everyone knows should be possible; however, it resulted in a significant discussion concerning the repeatability of the example flight and the dependence on aircraft automation to achieve a stable approach off a highly abbreviated STAR into a short final approach segment.

The discussed pre-arrangement necessary across airports and the ANSP sectors between London and Gatwick seemed onerous to make the point that efficient trajectories do, in fact, work and provide quantifiable benefits. However, it’s interesting to see the quantum in this case. It is not possible to have such arrangements in place, and neither should it be necessary daily. Additionally, the potential for rushed or unstable approaches resulting from flap and gear extension to the last possible gateway and relying on “managed speed” and “groundspeed mini” to ensure everything is sorted in time.