IoT in aviation? 3 reasons why it might fail

A futuristic aviation scene depicting the Internet of Things concept. The scene includes an airplane equipped with various high-tech sensors and connectors.

A report found that IoT in the aviation market is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth of 21.9% through 2025, from $593 million in 2019 to $1,941 million in 2025.  That gives IoT the second largest shares of tech investments by travel and mobility corporations since 2018, at 13%, right behind AI and ML at 65%. 

The IoT has been the talk of the town for some time in aviation, and these numbers predict even more growth. In this blog post, we will look at the key potential impact of connected devices.

But we will also consider the challenges and reasons the IoT for aviation might fail.

5 key use cases for IoT in aviation

1. Baggage tracking

A Bluetooth baggage tracker, such as TravelTag, can revolutionize baggage handling through real-time tracking solutions. By utilizing IoT sensors and devices, the tag connects airlines and passengers with live baggage information. As such, it has the potential to reduce the number of lost or delayed baggage. What’s more, it can greatly improve passenger happiness, and generate ancillary revenue through upscaling service offerings.

An example of IoT in aviation. TravelTag is a small but extremely powerful Bluetooth device that allows for live tracking of baggage at airports.
An example of IoT in aviation. TravelTag is a small but extremely powerful Bluetooth device that allows for live tracking of baggage at airports.

2. Improved passenger experience

Personalizing the travel experience is a focus for many airlines to stand out from the competition. IoT can integrate passenger information with real-time data to update flight statuses or gate changes. Even waiting times at security lines can be reflected in real-time. Of course, personalized entertainment during the flight is another way to improve passenger happiness. Just think of some airlines where passengers can create a playlist before boarding the flight, and then sync it with their seatback screens.

3. Sustainability initiatives

IoT allows airlines to monitor cabin conditions, such as temperature and lighting, with smart sensors. By optimizing cabin conditions based on this real-time occupancy data, airlines can manage energy usage, while still meeting passengers’ comfort requirements. Meanwhile, sensors on engines can track fuel consumption and engine performance to improve fuel efficiency. Airports can benefit from IoT for environmental factors, too, including tracing air quality and emission levels around airports to reduce carbon footprint

4. Ground support and aircraft health monitoring

By fitting aircraft and ground support equipment with sensors, such as TravelTag, the system can collect real-time data on performance and potential issues. Use cases include aircraft engines, but also dollies, ULDs, and pushback tractors. As the data is sent to operational management, they can identify predictive maintenance and reduce downtime. Airlines and airports can optimize costs and avoid unexpected breakdowns by scheduling tasks based on the equipment condition. 

IoT in aviation can be used to keep track of the status of ground equipment and ensure timely maintenance and repairs.
IoT in aviation can be used to keep track of the status of ground equipment and ensure timely maintenance and repairs.

5. Data collection and analysis

Last but not least, IoT enables the aviation industry to collect massive amounts of data. With tools like AI, airlines and airports can generate insights for quick and efficient decision-making. Whether it’s dashboards, reports, or visualizations, by combining IoT and AI, the aviation industry can rely on sturdy and pre-built data models to extract meaningful insights. In one of our webinars, Timos Korosis from Aegean Airlines highlighted how they successfully implemented new ways of dealing with mishandled baggage, empowered by data insights. 

3 reasons why IoT in aviation could fail

1. Standardization and interoperability issues

Successful implementation of IoT requires integrating new IoT devices with existing systems. As the aviation industry often works with legacy tech, it’s hard to ensure interoperability when combining various systems and devices. What’s more, even after successful implementation, these systems need constant updating and maintenance to proactively avoid failures.

This is why choosing a vendor with a proven track record of integrating IoT solutions with existing technology is crucial. 

At Bob, for example, we leveraged our deep understanding of the aviation industry to identify a gap in baggage management. Our First Mile and Last Mile solution successfully ensured off-airport baggage check-in solely through software. Our latest product, TravelTag, now continues this focus on seamless integration with existing airline technology.

2. Challenges of robust analytics and machine learning

Are your operations ready to deal with large amounts of data?
Are your operations ready to deal with large amounts of data?

As pointed out above, IoT offers great opportunities for data collection and analysis, the data is collected in the right way. This means focusing on security, scalability, and flexibility. Security entails keeping in mind the privacy of users. For scalability, airlines and airports need to have the infrastructure in place to collect and store large volumes of data. When it comes to flexibility, the systems have to be able to work with various data formats and adapt to changing requirements. These challenges can become serious issues if not addressed properly before implementing IoT solutions.

3. Functionality limitations of IoT in aviation

The Internet of Things (IoT) offers a vast array of functionalities, but it’s crucial to identify the right use case to maximize its effectiveness. 

Just like choosing the right tool for the job, selecting the appropriate IoT technology depends on the specific goal you’re trying to achieve. For instance, RFID excels at verifying that a bag has reached a particular checkpoint, indicating the last known location. However, 81% of passengers want to track their bags at any point throughout the journey. 

For this type of real-time bag tracking throughout a journey, Bluetooth presents a superior solution due to its ability to provide continuous location updates. 

In other words, understanding the limitations of IoT technologies, like RFID’s inability to provide real-time tracking, is key to choosing the right tool for the job.

How can you ensure proper implementation of IoT in aviation?

While the potential of the Internet of Things is undeniable, navigating its implementation can be daunting. Building a secure and scalable IoT solution from scratch is a complex undertaking. It can also lead to costly rework if the result doesn’t meet the airline’s or airport’s demands.

To avoid these pitfalls, many leading airlines and airports are partnering with experienced tech solution providers.

These partnerships simplify deployment and device management. Partnering can also empower airlines and airports to focus on their core competencies while leaving the intricacies of optimization, updates, and logistics to third-party vendors.

What questions should you ask to find the right IoT partner?

Selecting the right IoT partner is crucial for long-term success. Look beyond basic functionality and delve into factors that align with your specific needs. Some considerations when working with providers include:

  • Flexibility and adaptability. Can your partner personalize the technology to meet your specific needs, or adapt their technology to your use case? Discuss expected data usage, device locations, and whether the devices will be stationary or mobile, as these factors greatly influence both success and costs.
  • Security. Does your chosen partner have an in-depth knowledge of the aviation industry, its procedures, and its security requirements? Verify security measures for devices once deployed and their ability to integrate multiple devices into a single management dashboard.
IoT in aviation can only succeed if you can ensure security without compromising the user experience.
IoT in aviation can only succeed if you can ensure security without compromising the user experience.
  • Experience. Does the vendor have a proven track record of setting up integrated solutions and managing complex device ecosystems in line with airlines? Examine how your partner handles changes within the aviation industry and whether they can provide support tailored to your needs.

By breaking down these barriers to adoption and partnering with an experienced provider, airlines and airports can unlock the true potential of IoT. 

Focus on what you do best – aviation innovation and industry expertise – and let your partner handle the complexity. 

With this collaborative approach, you can pave the way for a successful IoT journey.

At Bob, we are proud of our experience in successfully providing airlines and airports with baggage handling solutions, including our Bluetooth baggage tracking device TravelTag.

Curious about how our devices integrate with your aviation tech, and how we guarantee a successful implementation? Contact us now to learn more.

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