Planes can talk, let’s listen

An Airbus A350 is incredibly chatty. Vast numbers of interconnected sensors built into the cockpit, cabin, engines and other systems capture massive amounts of data in a continuous time series. Once airborne, an A350 produces around 0.8 terabytes of data on an average flight — nearly the same amount of data produced by all the cars over the course of an entire Formula 1 weekend, or around 64x as much data per hour than an in-race F1 car.

There are probably few other physical products on the planet today that produce as much data as an aircraft. Just as in F1 — where mechanics and engineers in the pits and back in headquarters take real-time data to optimise performance of the cars — there are huge gains to be made by software and mechanical engineers working together in aerospace as data and digitalisation transforms the industry.

This transformation is happening across many sectors — automobile, media and retail are all experiencing major disruption as data and digital drive new ways of developing products and services. Witness the mobile phone, which has moved from a predominantly hardware-influenced product to a software-driven one in which the OS is more important to most consumers than the casing it comes in. And it’s this collaboration of skills and data that is key as we build the future of flight.

Airbus data scientists are hugely important to developing innovative new aircraft and nowhere is this more obvious than in the rapidly emerging field of urban air mobility (UAM). Together with Airbus engineers, they are pioneering the use of distributed propulsion, which allows for a number and configuration of engines and fans that simply will be beyond an individual human’s ability to control.

Instead our data analysts, and software and mechanical engineers are collaborating on new systems that will enable aircraft — both piloted and unmanned — to fly and navigate the skies safely; as well as communicate with other vehicles and air traffic control, while adhering to the regulations that will govern operating in city environments.

Flight is being fundamentally disrupted by the power of big data and our ability to capture and understand it. This has created a major opportunity for engineers, software developers and data analysts to work collaboratively to help us build the future of flight today. If you want to be at the heart of a revolution in the way we travel, then join us.