The problem: Commercial aviation works like a precision watch, with many parts that rely on one another for the whole system to function. When all the gears turn as planned – boarding, pre-flight inspection, takeoff, landing, taxiing to the gate, things go well.
Weather has a way of making sure they don’t. It accounts for about 75 percent of delays that disrupt the system and last longer than 15 minutes, according to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. And it’s usually not catastrophic storms that are to blame – mostly, it’s everyday downpours, gales and flurries.
Part of the reason: Many air traffic control systems track only what’s happening at the moment. That means controllers might keep a plane grounded until a storm clears the flight path completely, when in reality it's perfectly safe to take off much sooner.
The solution: Much like wayfinding apps help drivers find the fastest way from one place to another, data analytics tools can give pilots, airlines and dispatchers many more options on how to reach their destination.
Collins Aerospace engineers have developed such a tool: Flight Profile Optimization, a feature of the business’ FlightHub application. It aggregates information about weather, air traffic and airport congestion, calculates the effect of those variables on flight operation, then suggests alternatives to the current flight plan.