Rolls-Royce deal with Microsoft could mean fewer flight delays

Lindsay James
Lindsay James
By Lindsay James on 15 July 2016
Rolls-Royce deal with Microsoft could mean fewer flight delays

According to a news story by Microsoft’s UK press office, airline passengers could see more flights leave on time as a result of the new partnership between Rolls-Royce and Microsoft.

Rolls Royce, whose engines power more than 50,000 flights around the world every month, will use Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite to quickly diagnose issues with plane engines. Mechanics can then have the right tools in the right place to be able to fix the problems.

It is hoped the increased data that Rolls will receive will improve airline efficiency and lead to “every journey, for every passenger, taking off and landing on time, every time”. With a 1% fuel saving equating to US$250,000 per aircraft per year, the partnership is expected to save airlines millions of dollars.

The deal, announced at the Farnborough Airshow, will become an important part of Rolls Royce’s TotalCare programme, which is based on Rolls-Royce earning revenue when aircraft fly, rather than when engines are serviced.

Information on engine health, air traffic control, route restrictions and fuel usage will be collected from hundreds of sensors inside the engines to detect “operational anomalies and trends”. Airlines can then cut fuel usage, fly on more efficient routes and ensure they have the right replacement parts in the places they are needed most.

Caglayan Arkan, general manager of manufacturing and resources at Microsoft, said: “We are excited to bring our Azure platform and suite of digital technology to the aerospace market and support a world leader such as Rolls-Royce. Aircraft engines are hugely valuable assets and we want to help Rolls-Royce ensure they stay flying as much as possible. When we combine our skills with those of Rolls-Royce and their customers we have a powerful solution.”

Rolls Royce and Microsoft also unveiled Singapore Airlines as a partner to offer advice on improving engine efficiency.

Eric Schulz, president of civil aerospace at Rolls Royce, said: “We have done much over the past 20 years to reduce costs and improve efficiency, but we want more. We are now taking aerospace services from the era of garage repair to that of an F1 pit crew, using big-data technologies to proactively drive operational performance. Teams will take signals and information from many sources and turn it into an individual aircraft strategy that uses the least fuel, avoids disruption and is serviced with minimum downtime. We are excited to have an industry leader like Microsoft working with us and have Singapore Airlines, a highly-valued, forward-looking organisation, providing its guidance and insight.”

Captain KK Goh at Singapore Airlines, said: “Our flight operations and efficiency teams are working closely with Rolls-Royce to drive performance to the highest possible level in our business. We can see real savings when data and robust analytics are applied to support decision making in our processes and actions.”

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