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Artificial intelligence moves forward on the airline front

June 18, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Refined applications of artificial intelligence (AI) are sweeping the airline industry, with Etihad launching a new initiative to “harness the collective creativity” of the airline’s workforce, while Airbus and United Airlines have announced a separate advance in the AI field.

In Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways has partnered with Canadian startup Swae to launch iFikra, an artificial intelligence-powered platform which airlines says is “aimed at unlocking the full potential of Etihad’s workforce by enabling every employee to contribute to innovation”.

In the US, meanwhile, United Airlines has become the latest airline to connect to Airbus’ open-data platform, Skywise. United will leverage Skywise to enhance all aspects of its maintenance and engineering operations on its Airbus fleet.

First, iFikra:

Etihad’s iFikra platform is a pilot aimed at promoting intrapreneurship by allowing employees to propose innovative solutions to address Etihad’s ongoing business challenges and untapped opportunities.

The new AI-powered plaform is designed to harness the collective creativity of the organisation.

Launching the new platform, Etihad Aviation Group chief executive, Tony Douglas, said it reaffirmed the importance of innovation within the organisation. He said: “We recognise that there is an abundance of great ideas right here in our organisation and no one knows our business better than our employees, so we developed this tool to give them the platform they need to innovate. If we are operating more innovatively internally, our guests will have a far more superior experience when they choose Etihad.”

The new platform leverages artificial intelligence to support and augment written business proposals generated by staff, while enabling an open feedback and collaboration learning loop, based on the principles of transparency and meritocracy, to help escalate the best ideas forward efficiently.

For the first time, employees have the power to shape organisational strategy by voting, commenting and providing constructive feedback on their colleague’s ideas, playing a direct role in the decision-making process.

Elaborate webs of data

Ideas that ‘graduate’ from the platform will be provided with seed funding and support through Innovate Lab, Etihad’s innovation lab. The Lab supports rapid trial and iteration of promising ideas and projects, accelerating the delivery of prototypes, pilots, proof of concepts and minimum viable products.

Following January’s launch of the Etihad AI Academy in partnership with Microsoft, the company has been making significant investments in driving greater adoption of AI across the organisation and supporting its innovation agenda to ensure that it remains competitive and delivers exceptional value and choice to its guests in the digital age.

Now, Skywise:

Airbus says Skywise uses “flexible and visual tools” to let airlines store, access, manage and analyse data more efficiently while also benchmarking against other airline users’ trends. Skywise provides all technology elements in one place, including data warehousing, visualisation, alerting, and even machine learning packages, allowing United and other airlines “to nimbly develop and deploy their own analytical products”.

In addition, Skywise seamlessly connects with the data integration platform, Palantir Foundry. United began using this platform in 2018, and the combination of Palantir Foundry and Airbus’ Skywise will provide United with the data and tools to enhance its operational reliability.

Over 70 airlines around the world are connected to Skywise, which was launched in 2017.

Skywise provides all users with a single access point to their aggregated and anonymised aviation data, enriched from multiple sources across the industry into one secure, cloud-based platform.

Edited by Peter Needham

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