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Easy e-enablement

As connectivity migrates from the passengers to the crew, there are a number of useful lessons that can ease the process of e-enablement, says Chad Gill

The first step to realising the power of connected aircraft is e-enabling your crew devices and apps. The e-enablement benefits are countless across airline departments from inflight services to maintenance and flight ops. We connect the most crew members in the industry and we are e-enabling more every day. Crew connectivity is groundbreaking – there is not a mandated step-by-step manual to help you get your crew connected. While every e-enablement programme may be a little different, there are four key learnings you should bear in mind as you embark on an e-enablement programme.

Key learning 1: Plan and build for aircraft environment

Up at 10,000+ feet the setting is different, it is not your ordinary office environment. Flight applications are not always built bearing this in mind. Some applications are not able to handle information or events passed to them over the IFC network or through an onboard server. Some may not be able to handle the disruption caused by satellite beam switches. Therefore, it’s essential to both plan and build specifically for the unique characteristics of a connected aircraft environment.

At the onset as part of the planning, you should determine objectives and key metrics used to determine success by focusing on what are you are trying to accomplish with the application. For example, does the app need to be available 99.999% or only 10% of the time? Or, how much data will it use?

Next, creating multiple test scenarios and testing in a lab environment is critical. For example, Gogo’s lab can simulate the exact nature of the aircraft environment above our service altitude. Once you’re ready to roll out an e-enablement programme, it’s best to do so in a controlled fashion. Lay out a specific period prior to the roll out to collect feedback from the crew. At a minimum, one month of testing is recommended to gather enough data. This is the most critical part of the process, because testing is conducted in the actual aircraft environment.

Crew feedback will allow you to address any challenges or issues and make any updates or adjustments to your e-enablement programme before a full production roll out. Ensuring a smooth roll out is critical to the long-term success of the software implementation.

Key learning 2: Network performance matters

Crew members may become frustrated when using connected device and apps if the experience is poor.

In addition to the performance of the application itself, network performance is part of this experience. Think about your own experiences on the ground and how frustrating it can be when a site or an app takes too long to load. Poor crew experience can hinder adoption of an application.  

However, systems such as Gogo 2Ku improve user experience, allowing crews to view more graphical information (such as weather). Higher quality network performance means crews can update data more frequently without blowing your bottom line. Furthermore, better networks offer more capability such as streaming key operational data in real time more efficiently. >>


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