Today at the Farnborough show, Rolls Royce, Microsoft and Singapore Airlines announced a plan to collaborate on something called “TotalCare Digital”. The idea is to take best in class solutions and add together the data flows from advanced analytics and the “Internet of things” (henceforth called IoT) and roll this into Rolls-Royce TotalCare services offering. It is hoped the outcome will reduce costs while improving on-time performance – essentially providing the customer with better value.
Microsoft will bring its Azure cloud and its IoT suite to collect data from “disparate sources” and then allow its Cortana Intelligence Suite to uncover insights. This is basically Big Data as we have seen and heard about before.
Singapore Airlines hopes this solution will reduce its fuel burn, fly routes more efficiently and monitor its Rolls-Royce engines better. Even engine washes will be monitored. Since 4% of an airlines costs is engine maintenance (according to Rolls-Royce), the engine maker is very interested in making this work. With so many new engines running on PBH, the onus to keep that engine in peak condition lies with the OEM.
The move is to be cheered. But e-Enabled aircraft are not new. The scads of data thrown off by the next generation of engines is well known. New engines and even aircraft are carrying a lot more sensors. Each of these generate data at unheard of rates in the airline industry. The IoT is a nice term, but hardly ground breaking.
Other engine makers have been talking about this for some time and indeed doing something about it. If Rolls-Royce is playing catch-up, at least they chose strong partners.