Airlines call for harmonized standards on aircraft e-enablement


LONDON: A lack of standardization between airframers when it comes to e-enabling aircraft has fueled concerns among airlines operating mixed fleets – concerns that were voiced during Aircraft Commerce magazine’s recent Aircraft e-Enablement conference in London.

A British Airways representative attending the conference raised the point that Airbus and Boeing aircraft are fitted with “proprietary separate systems”, which he described as being “worlds apart”. As a mixed fleet operator, BA is keen to see more harmonization from the manufacturers to reduce the complexity.

Boeing 787 fleet chief and e-enabling customer introduction manager, Matt Bull, admitted that e-enablement standards “are not as full as we would have expected to allow for commonality”, leaving “some nuanced differences” between the two manufacturers’ interpretations. “We realize there’s a gap there,” he said

“We’re trying to make sure we’re listening to what the industry wants,” said Bull, adding that standards will be aligned where they can be. “I’m sorry if it’s [not moving] as fast as the industry would like.”

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, which will take delivery of its first Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft in the fourth quarter of this year, has noticed some of these differences. While commonalities can be found when it comes to security requirements and software interdependences, Etihad senior manager EIS, Marc-Christian Reichle pointed to a “different interpretation of [e-enablement] standards” between the two aircraft types.

Airbus A350 XWB customer program manager for e-operations and connectivity, Roser Roca-Toha, said the European airframer is “ready to support standardization” but it is important to first gain “consensus from suppliers”.

Another concern for airlines is their own lack of involvement in the development of e-enablement standards. An American Airlines representative attending the conference pointed out that “standards are being drafted without any airline participation, so we end up with the inconsistency in standards that we’re seeing. Airlines need to get involved”.