Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Airbus begins in-flight trials of IoT-based cabin

William Payne
September 19, 2019

Airbus reports it has begun in-flight trials of IoT connected cabin technologies on board an A350-900 Flight Lab aircraft. The company claims it is the first aircraft manufacturer to undertake such flight-testing of actual connected cabin innovations. 

The platform, known as the Airspace Connected Experience, was unveiled at the APEX Expo last year. It is designed to provide a new personalised experience for passengers and provide opportunities for improving airlines’ ancillary revenues and operational efficiencies.

The Flight Lab is one of the original A350-900 certification flight-test aircraft – MSN002 – and is fitted with an Airspace cabin which now serves as a platform to evaluate the new connected cabin technologies in flight. 

Together with one of its partners, an initial set of working elements have been installed. These include prototypes of the connected iSeat (Recaro), the Connected Galley (gategroup), a remote wireless cabin management control system, and a large OLED display.

It also included the first step of Airbus’ new “IoT backbone” which includes an open software platform. These innovations are all now being tested in flight.

Airbus says that passengers will receive a more personalised travel experience specifically targeted to the individual needs and preferences, based on the available data. In particular this covers pre- and remote ordering of preferred meals, booking of private bin space, setting of individual seat positions as well as a tailor-made in-flight IFE offer.

The company says that airlines will be able to generate additional ancillary revenues through personalised retail and advertisement as well as new services, all enabled by the IoT approach. Furthermore, airlines will be able to improve their operational efficiency applying predictive maintenance, avoiding waste and making crew services more efficient. Other opportunities can easily be created and applied via apps.

According to Airbus, crews will find a better working environment and more efficient tools, digitally enabled by real-time data from the IoT platform throughout the cabin. A mobile smart device will allow crews to monitor and operate all components.