Revolutionizing The Aviation Industry

Revolutionizing The Aviation Industry

Paul Harding, the Director of IT at Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), is responsible for managing the company’s IT infrastructure, handling varying cybersecurity requirements, and heading their software implementation endeavors. Having gained outstanding experience working with several Fortune 500 companies, he excels in establishing effective relationships with internal and external customers based on trust and integrity. Having served at ATSG for four years now, Harding has successfully transformed their maintenance operations by installing an Enterprise Asset Management system across three subsidiaries, improved cybersecurity exposure and ticketing system, migrated from Lotus Notes to Exchange, and implemented Office365. Adhering to his passion for constant improvement, he is now working on implementing a new flight and navigation system while introducing HA/clustering in a new infrastructure environment.

How did the pandemic pan out for ATSG?

There is no denying that the Covid-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm and subsequently created a massive disruption in the way the global business environment was operating. Like many others, ATSG was also swayed by the ripple effects created by the pandemic.

Primarily, since most of our workforce had gone remote, which was against our philosophy in the pre-Covid era, we came across a plethora of internal challenges. From providing systems for our remote working employees to setting up numerous VPN connections, our transition from an on-premise company to a fully virtual organization was no easy task. Another big thing that we had to get going during the pandemic was the migration from Lotus Notes to Exchange and the rollout of Office 365. While there was a significant amount of ambiguity concerning the success of this endeavor, our ability to embrace all necessary tools to establish a better collaboration within the teams allowed us to achieve our goals without any hassles.

What are some of the key trends that you see disrupt the aviation space today?

Having interacted with several prominent customers, including Amazon, I'd say that real-time data and predictive analytics are two big things that are going to shape the future of the aviation industry, especially the cargo space. Though relatively new to the aviation space, these technologies are gaining a lot of traction today, considering the broad range of benefits they promise. The better you leverage real-time data, and predictive analytics, the quicker and wider your customer base will grow. At ATSG, we’re equipped with all necessary tools and systems to gather, process, and analyze the vast lakes, pools, or warehouses of data available today. 

Not just that, our team is well trained and experienced to bring together this data and predictive analytics capabilities to deliver the right result our clients want. For instance, we can leverage our technical expertise and tools to help Amazon, one of our prominent clients, with real-time updates on where each of their packages is, giving them a complete picture of the shipping scenario. Though it sounds challenging, we specialize in making the entire process simple and hassle-free, thanks to our tech-stack and dedicated workforce.  

What makes us stay ahead of the competition is our reliability, which in my view, is the key to our success. This way, we serve as a partner of choice for several prominent players like Amazon, DHL, and DoD, helping them meet their needs on time.

Could you elaborate on the steps involved in ATSG’s project for Amazon?

The project for providing Amazon with real-time flight-critical data is one of the prestigious projects that we’ve done at ATSG. It was really challenging as no one in the team had hands-on experience in such sophisticated aspects of IT, such as creating data lakes and real-time dashboards. Negating all these hardships with their dedication, the team headed forward with the project, began gathering data, mostly from three different sources. To do this, we have installed wireless recorders that helped collect data from the engine system, maintenance system, and flight system. We then integrated these data to create data lakes for providing real-time flight-critical data to Amazon as well as real-time dashboards for centralized purchasing initiatives. We have also implemented wireless loading and retrieval of aircraft data and utilized flight data analytics for three airlines to provide real-time predictive analytics. We’re also heading towards improving fuel optimization.

“The better you leverage real-time data, and predictive analytics, the quicker and wider your customer base will grow”

Having such a powerful system, we are able to eliminate possibilities for unprecedented mechanical, electrical, or any other sort of failures within the aircraft and thereby avoid unprecedented delays in shipping. Since Amazon has access to real-time data, they can now have a holistic view of the scenario, where they can track their consignment, get notified about late departures, and more.

What would be the piece of advice that you have for your peers?

My piece of advice for anyone in the aviation industry is to continue finding new ways to improve not just from a business standpoint but also a technology perspective. In fact, the technology landscape has advanced so rapidly in the last few years and keeps on advancing, giving industry leaders no time to align with the latest advancements. Especially in the aviation industry that continues to grow quickly, it’s not wise to limit yourself by self-imposed boundaries when it comes to technologies. With new challenges and issues popping out every day, the only way for businesses to stay ahead of the game is by embracing new technologies. At ATSG, we have made significant leaps in terms of technology dedicated to making our customers' business more efficient.

Would you please tell our readers how the future of the Aviation Industry looks like?

With the changing business dynamics in the post-pandemic world, the aviation industry goes about witnessing a huge potential for advancements. However, in today’s digital world, where most providers and users find themselves in the virtual world, ransomware and cyber attacks are most likely to snowball into a headache for the industry. For instance, if a leading company in the aviation industry that ships time-sensitive cargo is hit with a ransomware attack and they are down for a week or two, they are at risk of losing several of their customers. As such, it’s more crucial than ever before for businesses to embrace advanced tools and technologies that can keep themselves secure from any such unprecedented events and thereby stay afloat. Not just that, organizations have to stay in tune with the latest technologies and constantly push their boundaries of innovation to strategically position themselves for meeting their clients' varying needs. While reducing cost always tops the customers' requirement list, businesses are left with no option other than creating efficiencies and embrace technologies to meet their needs effectively.       

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