Six weeks have passed since my first blog (link) on the impact of COVID-19 on inflight connectivity. Back then, I tried to anticipate precautionary measures that would allow us to resume flying, and how those could be implemented digitally and efficiently, based on a new paradigm of real broadband connectivity for every aircraft and every passenger. The COVID-19 Aviation Health Safety Protocol, which was published by EASA just last week (link), now recommends most of these measures, and more. Out of the comprehensive 27-pages document, here is a summary of the ones that could be smartly enabled by connectivity:
- Just-in-time arrival of passengers at the departure airport, based on assigned time slots computed from sophisticated passenger flow models, such as, CAST (link)
- Transit through the departure airport and boarding by non-stop walking in a spaced manner; notably, amusement parks already achieve this by means of app-based virtual queuing
- Replacement of snacks & beverages services by online ordering and in-seat delivery
- Replacement of inflight duty-free sales by online ordering and delivery to the arrival gate
- Replacement of cash & credit card payments by contactless in-app payments including real-time validation
- Onboard examination of COVID-19 suspects, enabled by connected screening devices that also laypersons can operate with the assistance of a doctor on the ground
- Inflight transmission of Passenger Locator Cards (PLC) of passengers diagnosed with COVID-19 for contact tracing purposes
- Inflight transmission of the health part of the aircraft general declaration to the Port of Entry authorities
- Coordinated disembarkation, based on row-by-row notifications, which also consider the maximum batch of people that should be fit in a bus, where buses are used
- Transit through the arrival airport without queuing, including intuitive AR-based indoor navigation, for example, to meet & greet areas, which should be separated from the main terminal exits
At SkyFive, we like to contribute to a fast recovery of air travel, by providing real broadband connectivity services based on our disruptive Air-to-Ground (A2G) technology. Beyond that, we think that most of these measures would make air travel more pleasant and efficient altogether – also after the current crisis.
About the author: Dirk Lindemeier is Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer of SkyFive. He previously spent 19 years with Nokia in telecommunications, and before that 10 years in military aviation. Until today, Dirk also enjoys being a private pilot.