William (Willie) Cecil, director for business development, Aircraft Data Services, Teledyne Controls has previously performed various management and leadership roles within product support, sales, marketing and business development at Teledyne Controls across 20 years.
Over the past 10 years, Willie has led the promotion of Teledyne’s Wireless & Data Automation Solutions and has played a critical role in assisting dozens of airlines around the world achieve safety and efficiency improvements enabled by linking aircraft systems and sensor data with airline back-office systems.
After working for several years as an avionics engineer in the British Army, Willie earned a Bachelor of Engineering in Electronic Engineering from Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland in 1998.
Tell us briefly how Teledyne Controls is connected to the airline industry?
Teledyne has a trademarked tagline “Everywhere you lookTM” – in so many places around the world and in space you can look around you and there will be a Teledyne Technologies’ solution behind the scenes.
Nowhere is it more the case than in the airline industry where, if you pick any airline or airliner, you will find behind the scenes Teledyne’s aircraft data products and services helping the industry to improve the safety, economics, and efficiency of air travel.
More than three-quarters of airliner assets in operation with airlines across the globe have one or more of Teledyne’s digital avionics products on-board that perform edge data capture and analytics, real-time inflight transmission of events, batched transmission of large volumes of time-series data post-flight on the ground to airline operations, maintenance and safety departments.
On the ground a majority of airlines and MRO organisations are utilising Teledyne services and products to configure the edge analytics that runs on their aeroplane assets, to process and derive value from the high-volume asset data that is collected from aeroplanes.
Notably, Teledyne’s GroundLink® automated wireless data harvesting system and Teledyne’s asset and operations data analytics products have enabled airlines to continuously improve flight safety over the last decade. More than 10,000 aeroplanes worldwide feature Teledyne Controls technology, including many of those operated by the low cost and regional operators.
There is a new era of digital transformation underway in all industries; sometimes referred to as the ‘fourth industrial revolution.’ Teledyne Controls has a mission to create value for the airline industry by leveraging aircraft data intelligence and promoting an innovative, flexible and collaborative culture.
What is data intelligence and how is Teledyne involved in this?
On the newest aeroplane models, hundreds of terabytes of sensor data are generated with every flight but not all of it is useful; not by a long shot.
In contrast, less than half a terabyte of sensor data is transmitted and consumed by airline operations and maintenance; and that’s not for one flight, that’s for an entire year of operations. And that’s not for one aircraft, but for all the global fleets of 20,000+ airliners combined.
The gap between data generated on-board and the data transmitted in real-time is huge. There is a middle ground and that is the time-series asset data collected post-flight that has been often deemed as ‘safety data’ and Teledyne is now leading the utilization of this data for applications beyond flight safety that are focused on maintenance and operations efficiency, and further improving aeroplane and fleet reliability.
Aircraft data is only valuable when it is converted into useful information that gets to the right place at the right time and drives outcomes that airlines and MROs desire.
In the fourth industrial revolution you not only need modern analytics but you need this to be fed by the right data; of the right quality, quantity and on time. This is the definition of data intelligence and it is at the core of what Teledyne Controls is all about.
In what way can airlines collect, manage and deliver aircraft data more efficiently?
Teledyne products are essential and critical along the entire data path from the aeroplane to end systems and users on the ground. Data intelligence is multi-faceted. Teledyne acquires, stores, processes, decodes, and analyses aircraft sensor data both on-board the aeroplane and on the ground – wherever it makes sense.
Teledyne then delivers insights and results to airline staff and even enables the distribution of data to other airline departments and other airline partners who deliver additional results for the airlines.
There is one unique opportunity that exists for airlines today and this is to extract value from the sensor data that is often locked up inside the airline’s flight safety department. There are data privacy and other issues with data access, but they are not insurmountable.
How do you rate the market for flight data monitoring and related technologies?
This market is somewhat mature in terms of safety and risk management applications. This is a well-established and relatively small market. Outside of the safety realm, there is an exciting and huge market related to serving up new applications focussed on efficiency and reliability.
The market is in its infancy and Teledyne Controls is right in the middle of it. Aeroplane and engine manufacturers, equipment manufacturers and MRO organisations have all entered the market to deliver value to airlines based on the asset data generated by aeroplanes.
Teledyne offers its own services and at the same time enables the services of others as desired by the airline community.
What solutions do you offer low cost and regional carriers?
The very same portfolio of digital avionics solutions and data management and analysis solutions that are provided for larger transport aircraft and used by most full-service airlines are also utilised by many low cost and regional carriers.
The adoption of Teledyne products and services by the likes of easyJet, Southwest Airlines, Ryanair, Air Asia, Viva Aerobus, Wizzair, Frontier, Spirit Airlines, Virgin Australia, Westjet and every airline in China, is a testament to the universal appeal of aircraft data products and services in the low cost and regional airline community.
What is the benefit of having identical EFB software on airlines with a mixed fleet?
In general, airlines prefer common tools, products and services across all aircraft types. At the Avionics Maintenance Conference (AMC) in Dallas in April this year, this was a topic of discussion. Airlines asked the question – “why we can’t have the same part numbers or solutions on aircraft models from different OEMs”.
An integral part of Teledyne Controls product and service philosophy is to provide products that are common across models and OEMs. Teledyne’s data distribution and analytics offerings also support aircraft models across the OEMs.
What can we expect to see in terms of data management trends in the future?
In the future, we can expect more data to be collected and sent in-flight and post-flight, and in the more distant future more dynamic flexibility to change how much data is collected, how it is sent and whether it is analysed on-board or on the ground. We can expect new sensors generating even more data.
We will see more value being derived through more and more sophisticated analytics. Sensor data has been described as the new oil in the industrial sphere, and time-series data from aeroplanes has immense untapped value.
It is the key to the successful application of machine learning and digital twin modelling that can enable more precise, predictive and even prescriptive maintenance. You might consider aircraft data as crude oil, and we have still to discover all the valuable products and by-products that will be derived from aircraft sensor data.
Never has there been a more exciting time in the flight data market than now.