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World´s first real-time solution for controlling airplane operating costs

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Aircraft direct operating costs heading into a smooth and rapid descent

Direct operating costs for things like refuelling, ground handling services, airport taxes and navigation expenses comprise most airline expenditures and overpayment of invoices on these is surprisingly common. A pioneering cloud-based service that detects invoice errors could save the industry billions.

Digital Economy
Transport and Mobility

The world loves to travel and air transport is a major contributor to the European economy, in terms of both revenue and jobs. Although airlines clearly benefit from the tremendous travel volumes, the high volume also creates bookkeeping headaches and significant financial loss due to errors. The Spanish SME Airplane Solutions, an aerospace tech lab in a class of its own, is digitally transforming the aviation industry to solve these and other data-related challenges. Its disruptive technologies and services are designed to enhance operational efficiency and increase revenue. The EU-funded SHOGANAI project helped the team pave the way to commercial readiness for its signature software as a service (SaaS), Airsensus (formerly Shoganai).

Real-time monitoring translates to control

SHOGANAI estimated that an average carrier with 1 700 daily flights pre-COVID generates more than 7 million expense items monthly. These are invoiced by hundreds of international suppliers at different airports often weeks to months after a flight. Given the stupefying amount of data and lack of tools to precisely calculate direct operating costs, two of every five invoices cannot be verified but are paid if they’re within about 5 % of that expected. Duplicate invoicing is rarely evaluated. Airsensus project manager Juan Torres of Airplane Solutions explains the SaaS: “The cloud-based Airsensus platform obtains actual operational data from the aircraft after every flight. From this, it calculates each individual cost from parking to runway use and cross-checks the calculated cost with invoices sent by the providers. This automatic process detects every potential overpayment, eliminating errors and streamlining process efficiency.”

Taxiing to take-off with all systems go

The COVID-19 pandemic and the first wave of lockdowns spread through Europe as SHOGANAI was about to begin flight-testing of its platform. Despite the challenges this created, Airplane Solutions obtained certification of its hardware that is installed to collect and transmit data. Together with IBM, its technological partner, the company validated the use of blockchain technology for transactions. Without the ability to gather real flight data, the team met the challenge by connecting the system to a flight simulator. This enabled scientists to fulfil the majority of the project’s objectives. Along the way, Airplane Solutions became a technological partner of some of the airlines, verifying customer interest and helping them become more efficient, reach more people and enhance their service provision. Feedback has enabled Airplane Solutions to assess customer preferences and focus on them in subsequent developments to hit the road running in the post-COVID travel surge. Torres concludes: “The civil aviation sector spends approximately USD 113 billion annually in direct operating costs. The International Air Transport Association estimated that overpayments were around USD 2.9 billion per year in 2015-2017. Airsensus’ goal to save airlines between EUR 84 000 and EUR 138 000 per aircraft will result in annual savings of EUR 20-33 million for a typical carrier with more than 240 planes.” Airsensus and its unprecedented ability to monitor and control direct operating costs in real time will boost civil aerospace competitiveness significantly while reducing the headaches associated with time-consuming manual processes that fail to solve the overpayment problem.

Keywords

SHOGANAI, flight, direct operating cost, Airplane Solutions, Airsensus, airline, aircraft, aviation, SaaS, blockchain, software as a service, invoicing

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