Airbus is one of the world’s largest aerospace businesses and Europe’s largest space enterprise, featuring a variety of passenger aircrafts. In 2016, Airbus earned over $76 Billion in income and employed around 132,000 employees. The company sells passenger airlines and various transport and defense aircrafts.

But deep down, the company is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud-forward.

On Monday, at VentureBeat 2018 Summit, Adam Bonnifield – VP of Airbus AI, said onstage:

“In Airbus’ case, AI has been a journey for decades. The price of using these technologies has plummeted, because of the explosion of computing power availability.”

Airbus creates an artificial lake of data for current airplanes, and then it makes it accessible for individual clients and companies.

JetBlue, a customer of Airbus’ “Scheduled Maintenance Optimizer platform”, uses algorithms to know about optimal maintenance schedule for task-forces of over 200 airplanes. It is a portion of Airbus’ eponymous Services, which offers flight operations, training, air traffic management, and other things. Bonnifield also elaborated on how AI can provide solutions:

“We can take some of the biggest problems in our industry — grounded aircraft, quality nonconformity problems, and operational delays — and use AI to solve them period,”

“About $40 billion is spent on delays in the United States, […] and about 80 percent of airlines are chronically late. It’s because they don’t have access to certain data that would help them manage when their plane lands and before it takes off.”

Last year, Airbus collaborated with Palantir Tech to release Skywise – an advanced analytics framework and big-data deployment. The company says that it allows improved aircraft designs, equipment designs, operational proficiency for legacy fleets, reporting to regulatory bodies and single-click reporting workflows, in addition to enhancing Airbus’ industrial sector’s operations performance.

“We’re allowing [employees] to spend more of their day by doing … expert tasks by arming them with … data,” Bonnifield said.

Airbus Skywise

Skywise takes aviation data from industrial sources and also taps traditional data sources available from remote servers, such as post-flight reports; operational interruption history; pilot reports; parts replacements; and aircraft condition monitoring reports.

“We’ve taken sensor data from our aircraft […] and other operational data we use to service planes and maintain them into one […] environment,” Bonnifield explained.

The aim is to store, manage and analyze maintenance, operational and airplane data in a safe framework, and to provide users understandings at the airplane global and fleet level. Globally, over seven key airlines use Skywise, which Airbus aims to give access to military airplanes, Airbus helicopters and other goods operators soon.

Nonetheless, Airbus knows that it doesn’t know-it-all. This is the reason why it employed over 100 firms to provide solutions to its industrial problems. For instance, how can it  obtain data from flight manuals.

“We need help understanding how to [parse] … technical diagrams that have a lot of captions and annotations,” Bonnifield. “A key lesson we learned was that bringing … data together is only solving the first part of the problem. The second part of the problem is understanding how that data interoperate[s].”