Assessing the benefits of satcom to airlines

Over a 15 year period, Helios valued the benefits that satellite communications has bought to the industry.

Customer

Inmarsat

Problem

Satellite communication (satcom) service provider Inmarsat wanted help quantifying the benefits of the voice and data services provided by satellite in oceanic regions over the last 15 years.

Role of Helios

Helios valued the benefit that satcom has brought to airlines over the period 2001 to 2016, and evaluated two types of cockpit communication: Air Traffic Control (ATC) and Airline Operations Centre (AOC).

Using a specifically designed model, each oceanic region and each application was addressed separately. Key inputs were traffic flows in each region, along with growth forecasts, fuel costs, and direct/indirect operating costs.

Results

The ground-breaking study showed that over a period of 15 years satcom has benefited the aviation industry to a total of $3 billion.

Satcom-enabled operational improvements in ATC amounted to $1.1 billion and included:

  • Individually-tailored flight plans that save time and fuel.
  • Procedures in some oceanic regions to allow aircraft to climb or descend through an altitude that is already occupied by another aircraft.
  • Tailored arrivals, where arrival times are planned to allow an ideal descent route and to avoid holding patterns.

Savings found in AOC in oceanic regions amounted to $1.9 billion, and included:

  • Improved delay management and scheduling
  • Improved maintenance capability
  • Better fleet management
  • Better flight crew management
  • Reduced turnaround time
  • Increased efficiency and predictability

The report discovered that the annual benefit to the aviation industry grew 35% each year between 2013 and 2016. This reflects the increasing numbers of 'connected aircraft', and the fact that satellite communications allows for reduced separation of aircraft. That means that more aircraft can safely fit into a given airspace, dramatically increasing capacity.

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"This study shows how satellite communication has already done so much to improve the safety and efficiency of the skies. With the arrival of IP-based applications and new data-hungry cockpits, satcom will deliver both critical safety data as well as improve operational performance of today's fleets. The potential to enhance the safety and efficiency of air travel is almost unlimited". Captain Mary McMillan, Vice President of Safety and Operational Services at Inmarsat.


Read the full report here. For further information on this project please contact us.

An excellent job, which I believe couldn't have been performed better.

Göran Amnehoff, Luftfartsverket (LFV)

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