Research conducted by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in collaboration with Inmarsat has revealed that connected aircraft could help airlines save $15bn per year in operational efficiencies and 21.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2035.

These efficiencies include fuel savings, a reduction in delays, innovations in maintenance processes, air traffic management enhancements, safety improvements and others.

Evaluating data from the existing connected aircraft, facilitated by satellite communication, researchers found that together these efficiencies could cause a 1% reduction in the $764bn invested by airlines annually in operating costs across the globe.

The research is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and various primary research tools such as interviews with airlines, regulatory agencies, developers and suppliers of aircraft equipment and software solutions.

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“Enhanced connectivity is becoming an operational necessity as our skies become busier.”

Inmarsat aviation market and business development senior vice-president Frederik van Essen said: “This report demonstrates that the connected aircraft is a shrewd commercial decision; unrivalled access to real-time data is reducing airlines’ bottom-line operating costs while reducing emissions and improving safety.

“Not only that, enhanced connectivity is becoming an operational necessity as our skies become busier.

“With finite airspace available to accommodate increasing passenger numbers, airlines need to act now and consider the technology and infrastructure they need to future-proof their operations.”

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In terms of fuel savings and reducing environmental impact, the report noted that connected aircraft could reduce fuel consumption by 2.5% per flight, equivalent to 21.3 million tonnes of CO2 annually.

Connected aircraft use real-time data to create a live electronic tech log, which enables the digital integration of flight performance data with maintenance suppliers and allow airlines to identify any maintenance required before landing and reduce turnaround times.

Researchers said that connected aircraft could reduce global flight delays, which are estimated to cost the industry $123bn annually.

Replacing the current radar-based systems with satellite-based navigation is also expected to enhance air traffic control services.