AWS for Industries

How Smart4Aviation and AWS modernize operations of leading airlines

Imagine sitting in an airplane, waiting for takeoff. As you look out the window, you see people (ramp agents) physically loading and unloading baggage, cargo, and other items onto the aircraft. Have you ever wondered about the processes and roles hidden behind this operation? How does it affect flight safety, fuel consumption, and water optimization?

As those in the aviation industry know, air travel—a seemingly simple experience for passengers—involves many complex processes behind the scenes. From ticket booking and baggage loading to aircraft performance management and safe flight operations, the aviation industry juggles complexities that impact flight safety, fuel consumption, and overall operational efficiency.

In this blog post, we explore how airlines can improve their operations and achieve cost savings by using Smart4Aviation Smart PORTAL solutions, which we built using Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud services.

Figure 1 Smart PORTAL platformFigure 1: Smart PORTAL platform

Smart4Aviation Smart PORTAL

Smart4Aviation is helping airlines address operational challenges with its innovative Smart PORTAL solution hosted on AWS.

Smart PORTAL on AWS is a comprehensive multi-module platform designed to optimize critical areas such as load planning, weight and balance, communication and alerting, pilot and cabin crew mobile solutions, fleet and operations management, flight planning, aircraft performance, and aircraft tracking.

Baggage handling with Smart LOAD

Baggage loading, a pivotal process in aviation, involves a complex network of roles. Smart LOAD is an exception-based weight and balance and load-planning system. This solution fully automates and optimizes load planning, engaging agents only when there are economic or loading irregularities. It’s an extremely powerful yet simple-to-use solution, supporting both centralized and de-centralized airline load control models.

Key players in this process include load planners, ramp agents, dispatchers, and pilots. Let’s break down the loading process into key stakeholders and how it impacts the overall aviation transportation process:

  • Load planners can create efficient load plans with Smart LOAD’s automated system, reducing manual work and enhancing productivity, allowing planners to handle a higher volume of flights per shift.
  • Ramp agents can use Smart LOAD to complete load plans accurately, ensuring proper load distribution, and maintaining the aircraft’s balance and stability.
  • Pilots benefit from Smart LOAD’s digitized and automated up-to-date load manifests and precise weight and balance data, enabling informed decisions during takeoff, landing, and flight. The mobile extension helps them confirm important documents digitally.

When used in conjunction with other Smart4Aviation modules, Smart LOAD can help airlines achieve tangible benefits such as:

  • Reduced fuel consumption through optimal center of gravity positioning
  • More accurate zero fuel weight planning
  • Optimal galley and potable water transport per flight
  • Minimal manual effort to complete final loadsheet calculations, reducing turnaround time and improving on-time performance

Figure 2 Smart LOAD main viewFigure 2: Smart LOAD main view

Smart LOAD replaces manual paper checks with a digitized process that achieves a level of automation of up to 99 percent, meaning that with the right processes in place, load planners only need to monitor the process and address exceptions.

Every minute counts with Smart COMM

The success of an airline’s operation control center (OCC) depends on information that is relevant, accurate, and immediate. A flight delay of 1 minute can cost more than USD 100. This means that an airline averaging 1,000 flights per day, and an average delay of 3 minutes per flight has an estimated cost of delays of approximately $9,000,000 every month.

Smart COMM is a web and mobile all-encompassing person-to-person (P2P) communication platform designed to solve operational communication issues in all areas of the airline industry.

Figure 3 Smart COMM - Gantt viewFigure 3: Smart COMM – Gantt view

Smart4Aviation’s Smart COMM can help airlines:

  • Reduce risk with automatic hazard alerts that affect flight safety
  • Recover from irregular operations and reduce costs
  • Improve operational performance and on-time performance
  • Enhance organizational communication
  • Improve flight monitoring with alerts for conditions along the way
  • Lower costs and reduce fuel consumption.

Why AWS Cloud?

One of the key benefits of Smart4Aviation’s solutions is its cloud-based infrastructure, hosted on AWS, which provides a secure and reliable platform for aviation operations. This means that airlines and aviation operators can access their data and applications from anywhere in the world, at any time, without having to worry about data security or system uptime.

The ability to withstand and quickly recover from disruption is essential for maintaining the continuity of airline operations and protecting against financial and reputation losses. Thanks to the infrastructure supporting Smart PORTAL, airlines don’t need to operate large-scale data centers.

Smart PORTAL architecture on AWS

Smart PORTAL uses AWS compute components for the software business logic, Amazon MQ for reliable customer data delivery by the messaging system, and Amazon Aurora for high performance, availability, and data resiliency. The selected technology provides a secure, centralized, highly-available, and resilient solution for airline operations.

Smart PORTAL high-level architecture in a multi-region deploymentFigure 4: Smart PORTAL high-level architecture in a multi-region deployment

As shown in the high-level architecture in Figure 4:

1. The customer IT environment includes various systems, which are the source or destination of operational data exchanged with Smart PORTAL. To improve the application performance and reliability, Smart PORTAL integrates with your existing systems and data on premises by using AWS Direct Connect or AWS Site-to-Site VPN to establish a dedicated direct connection to AWS that bypasses the internet using the AWS backbone infrastructure.

2. Smart SUITE also integrates with external third-party data sources to augment datasets you use for business logic.

3. Airline users and supporting company employees securely access this guidance with browsers or mobile extensions though Application Load Balancer. AWS Shield provides managed layer 3 and layer 4 distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection. AWS WAF provides layer 7 protection against common exploits and pervasive bots.

4. AWS Management and Governance services facilitate business agility and governance control in this guidance.

5. AWS Security, Identity, and Compliance services align with the functions of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework—identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover—to improve security, risk management, and resilience.

6. Smart SUITE achieves AWS Regional high availability with a multi–Availability Zone (AZ) deployment.

a. Requests use Elastic Load Balancing and go through Application Load Balancer.

b. Requests reach the Smart4Aviation business suite on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances within an Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling group to manage capacity. This allows new EC2 instances to launch seamlessly and automatically when compute demand increases for the data processing and business calculation layer. This also terminates unneeded EC2 instances automatically to save money when demand subsides.

c. Logs are streamed to Amazon CloudWatch.

7. Amazon MQ stores data redundantly across multiple AZs and shares it between active and standby brokers with Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS) for delivery of data between the customer and external sources to Smart PORTAL products. Data is persisted and shared between software nodes on Amazon EFS. Amazon EFS provides serverless, fully elastic file storage that eliminates capacity planning providing 99.999999999 percent durability and up to 99.99 percent availability.

8. As the integration layer, Apache Camel is installed on at least two nodes to provide high availability in production. It replicates messages to the disaster recovery Region through AWS Transit Gateway.

9. The data layer is securely stored in highly available, scalable, cost effective, and high-performance Aurora PostgreSQL-Compatible Edition, which provides in-Region high availability backed by a 99.99 percent uptime service level agreement (SLA).

Smart PORTAL can be offered in different infrastructure configurations on AWS to meet different disaster recovery (DR) strategies required by airlines. By default, the pilot light strategy is preferred and enabled by:

1. Using Aurora global databases that span primary and DR Regions. This provides fast recovery from the rare outage that might affect an entire Region. To simplify network topology and reduce complexity of peering relationships, as well as improve security with inter-Region peering encryption, Smart PORTAL uses AWS Transit Gateway.

2. Keeping resources (such as Amazon EC2 and Amazon MQ) pre-configured but inactive. This helps the Smart SUITE solution drive cost savings while supporting SLAs.

To ingest data from the existing database system uses the AWS Database Migration Service (AWS DMS). AWS DMS is a managed migration and replication service that helps move databases and analytics workloads to AWS quickly, securely, and with minimal downtime and zero data loss. AWS DMS supports migration between over 20 database and analytics engines that cover the majority of use cases. To align with strict compliance regulations within the aviation industry, AWS Backup is used to centrally configure backup policies and monitor backup activity for AWS resources.

The bottom line

The synergy between innovative solutions and cutting-edge technology is reshaping the future of air travel. That’s why airlines are using Smart4Aviation solutions, built and hosted on AWS, to improve their operations. To learn more about Smart PORTAL and its modules, visit the AWS Marketplace or Smart4Aviation website.

Andrzej Kowal

Andrzej Kowal

Smart4Aviation's Chief Information Officer, holds a Masters in Computer Science from AGH University and is a certified AWS Professional Architect, CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), PMP (Project Management Professional), and ISACA CEGIT (Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT). In this role, he leads the company's IT efforts, overseeing product development, hosting, and support services, combining his extensive technical expertise with a strategic vision that bridges the realms of aviation and information technology.

Aleksandr Vasilevich

Aleksandr Vasilevich

Aleksandr Vasilevich, Senior Account Executive at AWS, accelerates innovation and optimizes efficiency for tech companies in Central and Eastern Europe through cutting-edge Cloud Technologies. With a background in telecommunications, IoT, and startup development, he holds both Master's degrees in International Business Management from Geneva Business School and Information Technologies from the State Transport University in Saint-Petersburg.

Eric Gauthier

Eric Gauthier

Eric Gauthier is a Senior Solutions Architect at AWS based in Canada and is working with Travel & Hospitality customers to build the next generation of tools, services and experiences using AWS.

Maciej Migacz

Maciej Migacz

Maciej Migacz, Director of Sales & Marketing at Smart4Aviation, has a proven track record in the airline / aviation sector. With expertise in Customer Relationship Management, Sales Management, Commercial Aviation and Pricing Strategy, Maciej holds a Masters Degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Economics in Krakow, demonstrating a well-rounded skill set to drive success in the dynamic aviation industry.

Paweł Moniewski

Paweł Moniewski

Paweł Moniewski is a Senior Solutions Architect at AWS based in Poland. He collaborates with Enterprise & ISV clients to deliver cloud-based solutions, guiding them through the cloud migration journey and assisting in exploring opportunities and optimizing business operations.