Boeing 787s to create half a terabyte of data per flight, says Virgin Atlantic

Boeing 787s to create half a terabyte of data per flight, says Virgin Atlantic

Internet of things will create a wide range of opportunities and challenges for airline

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Bulman said that Virgin Atlantic is in the process of setting up private clouds for certain aspects of its business, and is discussing public cloud use for less sensitive data.

"We are doing some private cloud setups at the moment. We are in conversations with some public dealers, particularly for data storage and data analytics, to deal with some of these massive data sets."

He added: "I cannot create the extra storage that we need off of my own back, given the increased amount of data that we are having to store, so we are having to work with other suppliers to find out how we can get more flexible data storage into our infrastructure."

Making sense of the big data generated by the internet of things is an ongoing project, with Bulman explaining that the airline is currently looking at a number of software vendors, having had limited success with a Hadoop test in the past.

"We did a Hadoop trial last year, it didn't go very far because we weren't getting the intelligence out of it that we thought we would. So we are looking at some other initiatives with different vendors this year.

"We tried to put three different data sets together, and then tried to see if we could find some causality between the data sets that would gives us intelligence that would allow us to manage our operations better, and the trial itself didn't find the causality between the data sets. So we didn't find the linkages we hoped we would find.

"Whether that was how we set the trial up or the software I don't know, so we are going to try some different things.”

He continued: "The thing about big data right now is that it is experimental; you have to try putting different data sets together in different ways to see if you can get the intelligence out that you want. The whole point is looking at the very fixed data sets with unfixed unstructured data sets, and sometimes it doesn't work, so you try it again." 

The analysis of big data generated throughout its operations will have a number of benefits. On the customer side, Bulman said that this will give Virgin Atlantic greater knowledge of what its customers want, both to sell to them more intelligently and to improve its services.

It could also open up the possibility of pre-emptively flagging problems within aircraft themselves, he explained.

"As you move to a big data world you can start to see the trends in that data. You can move towards predicting what will happen with the plane so that you can do maintenance before a problem occurs, or look at where the efficiencies are and find out how to fly the plane differently to get better fuel efficiency.

“There is going to be some quite incredible information that we can pull from the data."



  • GM I dont know how did they calculated 12 Terra byte of data coming of 787 aircraft it does not sound right because total storage capacity on 787 is 100GB and 787 generates approx 5 to 10MB data per hour of flight so it need to fly atleast 524288 hours to generate half aterbyte of data 524288 hours will equal to 598 YEARS of flight time Thats a long time
  • Ellie K THAT makes more sense and is consistent with the article I wondered too just like others did about every piece of the airplane having an internet connection Thank you for explaining
  • JL Planes have had monitoring systems for many many decades tachometers altimeters fuel gauges etc Since planes first began to have flight computers those monitoring systems have been tied into planes computers Since the late 70s planes have been digitally communicating information to ground systems using a system called ACARS Over the years the system has become more and more advanced communicating ever greater amounts of data Boeings system is called Airplane Health Management AHM for short Boeing collects information from aircraft via ACARS which operates through satellite data communication Boeing then processes this information and subsequently makes this information available on its own secure servers which are connected to the internet Thus the planes do not have a direct connection to the internet Boeing is processing the ACARS data and relaying that information via secure servers As far as I know the flow of information on the internet is one way only from Boeings servers out to its customers The purpose is to allow maintenance operations to effectively plan in advance of a plane landing should there be an issue that arises in flight It allows the pilots to concentrate on flying the plane rather than burdening them with relaying information by voice The quantity of data produced by planes has been growing over the years just as it has in every other use of a computer The 787 as Boeings newest plane produces more data than previous planes Its hardly a surprise I remember when jpeg photos used to take one or more minutes to download per photo Now I can stream HD video at 30 framessecondTo attempt to answer your question and to summarize Yes the planes systems are all interconnected on the plane in their own network as part of the flight management computers on the aircraft And yes the information produced is relayed to the the ACARS server on the ground That servers data is processed by another system That information is in turn sent out over the internet through secure servers The statement Literally every piece of that plane has an internet connection is a bit misleading Many parts of the plane produce data and that data is relayed to the internet but the connection is not a direct one Boeings ACARS server on the ground is connected to a Boeing secure internet server but they are not one and the same piece of hardware The ACARS server to which the plane communicates is NOT an internet server
  • Daniel Watkins are incredibly connected Literally every piece of that plane has an internet connection from the engines to the flaps to the landing gearSo is this literal or figurative from the internet of things Meaning the systems of the plane are connected together as a network or that the systems of the plane are each connected to an Earth computer
  • Daniel Watkins Since the plane is full of internet connected computes cant passengers use their internet connected devices during a flight It wont affect the plane
  • David Henry Kings Aguirre Gogo is a little piece of interconnection in this plane in fact that does not come with the plane 787s are flying data centers Theres a lot more to them than internet access
  • Andrew Duncan Dont talk to me about Terabytes and the the cloud Just give me the convenience of not carrying around a 19th century little book called a passport and give me on-board immigration clearance with iris scanning technology or whatever Are you listening Mr Bulman
  • Ron Kulik Ah the power of the un-educated and un-informed
  • Manuel Fernandes The plan is connected to the internet for service like gogo Its just that the internet connection is firewalled off from aircraft control systems for sure
  • JL In this instance the internet of things is a phrase meant to describe the interconnectivity of all the parts on the plane The phrase itself does not imply connectivity to the internet proper Heres a wiki article describing the meaning of this phrase and its origins httpenwikipediaorgwikiI
  • Chuck I REALLY REALLY hope that the claim that everything is connected to the Internet is a misprint If it is true I will never ever fly in a 787
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