Posted by Sade Williams
Delta airline has agreed to join an Airbus SE data-analysis network that crunches real-time information about airplane components to spot problems early and improve operations, according to executives from both companies.
Delta would become the first big U.S. airline, according to wsj.com, to use Airbus’s Skywise system. An announcement is expected later Monday.
The Delta-Airbus deal is the latest move by an airline to try to squeeze out operational cost savings, amid earnings pressure from higher fuel prices and a tight labor market.
For Airbus, the deal represents an important new customer for Skywise. The system has become a key part of the European plane maker’s recent push to profit more from fixing and servicing airplanes—not just selling them.
The program draws on data not just from Delta jets but from other carriers flying Airbus planes as well. Around 400 of Delta’s Airbus A320 narrow bodies and A330 long-range planes will feed data into the network, according to the companies. That data will help Delta and partner carriers improve how they use their planes and spot potential malfunctions before they occur.
In addition to allowing airlines to troubleshoot faults early, Airbus said the information can eventually be used to improve the design of components so they last longer or improve current and future plane designs. Terms of the contract weren’t disclosed.
“The system will help us better predict pending component or system anomalies so that we can address them before we have an operational disruption,” said Gary Hammes, Delta’s vice president for engineering. The airline may be able to avoid as many as 1,600 to 1,800 flight cancellations a year, he said, saving money and avoiding angering customers.
For both Airbus and rival Boeing Co. , such after-sales contracts can come with higher margins than aircraft sales. Such contracts have become a focus for both plane makers at a time when airlines are demanding steep discounts when they buy planes.
Boeing last year set up a unit to chase service deals. It has set a target of reaching around $50 billion in sales in five years. The company has also made several acquisitions to expand its services operations.
Marc Fontaine, digital technology chief at Airbus, said Airbus now has 3,000 aircraft feeding data into the network from about 23 airlines. By the end of next year, he said, about 100 airlines should be signed up.
Airbus launched the system in mid-2017. Airlines such as British budget carrier easyJet PLC and discount carrier AirAsia Group Bhd., which operate large fleets of Airbus single-aisle planes, use the network.