Harnessing the Power of Inflight Data for Safer, Smoother Flights

We’ve all been on a bumpy flight before and know what it feels like to nearly spill a beverage.

While turbulence has indeed caused many a cup of coffee to spill, the impact is much more serious. Studies have shown that aircraft encounters with turbulence are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries in the commercial airline industry. In fact, each year turbulence incidents cost airlines approximately $100 million due to crew and passenger injuries, unscheduled maintenance, operational inefficiencies, and revenue lost while planes are out of service.

Leveraging the power of broadband connectivity to create safer airways, Gogo Business Aviation and The Weather Company (TWC), an IBM business, have partnered to enable the delivery of real-time turbulence reports and alerts directly to pilots, dispatch and other operations personnel. Gogo and TWC have implemented TWC’s patented Turbulence Auto PIREP System (TAPS), a turbulence detection algorithm, on Gogo’s communications server onboard the aircraft. This program leverages Gogo’s network and equipment on the aircraft to deliver large amounts of turbulence data that can provide insights and guidance to all flights that might be travelling through impacted air space.

Previously, flight operations personnel, pilots and aviation meteorologists received coded verbal reports with limited information on flight conditions, also known as PIREPS. Now, through WSI Total Turbulence, real-time TAPS reports and forecaster-issued turbulence advisories are sent to dispatchers and crew to alert them of the hazard. Then, pilots in the cockpit receive the en route hazard alert through Weather’s flight planning and operations applications like WSI Fusion and WSI Pilotbrief, and aircraft communication displays.

The TAPS algorithm in action

The TWC TAPS software resides on Gogo’s server, which provides access to the data generated by the aircraft that is needed to create reports of turbulence intensity. The reports are generated on the onboard server and shared via Gogo’s server on the ground. The ground server and the Gogo Business Services Gateway (BSG) then route the report to The Weather Company.

View infographic as PDF.

In addition to real-time alerting via its cockpit apps, TWC leverages the TAPS reports to continually improve turbulence forecasts. Some customers of WSI Total Turbulence have seen a reduction in turbulence injuries and unnecessary turbulence-induced maintenance inspection by about 50% each.

To learn more about how Gogo Business Aviation and other airborne connectivity companies are connecting cockpits to provide smoother flights, view the article published in Executive & VIP Aviation International (EVA), Spring 2017 publication: “Smoothing the Ride: Weather & the Connected Cockpit.”

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