With any airline, when planes are not flying, the company is not making money. To make sure each plane is in the air for as long as possible, the Turn, (the amount of time each plane spends on the ground between landing and its next departure) must be optimized.
Our client, a top-five U.S. airline, turns tens of thousands of planes every day in over a hundred airports. But, surprisingly, the processes they use to transition each plane from one flight to the next, the Turn, still relies on the same archaic systems they have used since the 1970s. The goal for each Turn is 20 minutes and each second that can be shaved off of this can result in millions of dollars in savings.
Imaginuity was brought on by the airline’s innovation team to think through how mobile optimization tools can be used to optimize plane turns buy improving ground crew communication and coordination.
We built a mobile platform which streamlines team tasks across the entire ground crew: fueling, baggage handling, cleaning and provisioning. Use of the app results in less actual face time among the team, but fosters improved communication, collaboration and more meaningful connections.
At the heart of this app was a simple yet versatile communications system allowing anyone on the Turn to quickly send requests, questions and comments to individual team members or the entire team. A glanceable dashboard was built in allowing for anyone to quickly recognize where the team was on the Turn.
Data from the app provided operations teams real-time data on which planes perform the best and which aspects of the Turn are the most challenging depending on the airport, gate configuration, or team.
The platform was tested in two airports and resulted in a Turn time savings of 0:48 seconds. The estimated savings of this level of improvement is expected to exceed $20 million. Additional airport testing is planned.