Low-cost carriers (LCCs) have succeeded in Southeast Asia more than in perhaps any other part of the world. Whereas LCCs carry around 26 percent of global traffic, in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines that figure has exceeded 50 percent. With China’s skies being opened to LCCs the expansion in the Asia Pacific region is set to carry on.
LCC business models dictate that costs are cut where they can be, without sacrificing safety. With its understanding of the way such carriers operate, and with a long pedigree of introducing technologies that drive greater efficiencies in the airline business, Honeywell (Booth Q23) has developed a range of technologies to help LCCs, and other airlines, keep their costs down.
Reducing fuel costs is of even greater importance to LCCs than full-fare carriers, because they typically constitute more than half of the total operating costs as opposed to 35-45 percent. One way of lowering fuel-burn is by reducing the distances flown by making approaches more efficient. Honeywell’s SmartPath ground-based augmentation system uses a GPS-based system to generate safe, curved paths that can reduce track-miles considerably, while also making airports more efficient in their operation.
Honeywell also offers a range of airborne connectivity solutions, including Iridium, the current Inmarsat Ku-band network, and the new Inmarsat GX Aviation Ka-band system. The latter is in the process of being rolled out, with the first satellite being launched to provide Indian Ocean coverage in December. Full global coverage is expected shortly.
GX Aviation allows office-type speeds, sufficient for video-streaming. With the majority of the traveling public wishing to be online while airborne, GX Aviation provides a means by which passengers can enjoy individual inflight entertainment, without the need to install IFE systems in aircraft, with their attendant burdens of weight and maintenance requirements.
Broadband connectivity also promises savings for airlines in other areas. Being able to downlink aircraft data to ground stations allows predictive health monitoring and the capture of faults if they develop in flight. If an aircraft develops a fault then ground mechanics can be ready with the correct tools and parts to meet the aircraft as it arrives, performing maintenance quickly with the initial diagnosis already performed. For LCCs this means that short turn-round times need not be extended too much by fault-fixing. The system also allows ground engineers to interrogate the aircraft while it is in the air, or to alert crews to perform certain fuel-saving tasks, such as shutting down the APU after a certain period on the ground.
Another major fuel-saving concept that Honeywell is working on is green taxiing, using power from just the APU to drive electric motors on the mainwheels of narrow-body aircraft. Block fuel savings of from four to six percent can be achieved using this system.
As well as it cost-saving systems, the company also offers a portfolio of maintenance and aftermarket support aimed at LCCs with a predictable cost model at their heart. That predictability is one of the most important concerns for LCCs, along with the rapid and guaranteed access to the reliability and quality that comes from OEM support.