Airlines and passengers definitely have different priorities, but there’s one thing we can all agree upon – the shorter a flight, the better.
Passengers want shorter flights because the faster you can get to where you’re going, the better. Airlines want shorter flights because the less fuel they have to use, the less money it costs them (here are some other ways airlines have cut costs – some of them are really smart!)
Welp, back in May, Alaska Airlines announced that, after a 6-month trial run, they signed a multi-year contract with Airspace Intelligence, a company that builds aerospace software. With that, the airline would continue to use Flyways AI™ software. This “industry-changing platform uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to assist dispatchers in making flight operations more efficient and sustainable by optimizing routes and improving the predictability and flow of airline traffic.”
Alaska was the first airline worldwide to adopt the technology.
About Flyways AI:
“Flyways AI is a 4D mapping, predictive and recommendation platform for commercial air operations that relies on machine learning and artificial intelligence.
The system autonomously evaluates the operational safety, ATC compliance, and efficiency of an airline’s planned and active flights. When it finds a better route around turbulence or a more efficient route, it provides actionable recommendations to flight dispatchers. The dispatcher then decides whether to accept and implement the recommended solution. Dispatchers always make the final call, in accordance with existing FAA protocols.
The system looks at all scheduled and active flights across the U.S., scanning air traffic systemically rather than focusing on single flights. It treats air traffic more like the way mapping applications look at ground traffic — as a dynamic and constantly changing ecosystem of moving objects.
By applying machine learning, Airspace Intelligence created prediction models of the U.S. air space that allow the platform to predict how weather, traffic and other constraints impact flights. This kind of predictive modeling allows Flyways to provide its airlines partners with the ability to “look into the future,” as far as eight-plus hours ahead. The system helps the operational decision-makers streamline traffic flow, thereby reducing fuel burn and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions. This supports Alaska’s path to reducing carbon emissions and reduces fuel cost.”
It’s been compared to Waze, but for the skies.
Alaska Airlines has been using the system for almost a year now, and they report they’re regularly reducing the time of transcontinental flights by as much as 30 minutes. Even shorter flights have had some time shaved off them.
A few minutes, of course, isn’t very substantial to a passenger – we’ve all gained that with a good tailwind. And, as Pasha Saleh, Alaska Airlines’ director of flight operations, strategy and innovation says, “Four minutes on a flight might not sound like much, but over 1,000 flights a day, you’re talking about hours and hours of savings.”
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