AWS Startups Blog

Making Flights Cost-efficient, Punctual & Environmentally Friendly with PACE’s AWS-based Cockpit Software

Guest post by Frank Opel, Director, Product Management FPO, PACE

Flying as efficiently as possible while maintaining high standards of passenger safety and comfort has always been a priority for airlines, but today, cost- and fuel-saving measures are needed more than ever to survive dwindling revenues. In addition, government loans helping airlines cope with economic fallouts are frequently tied to climate protection targets, requiring them to significantly cut their CO2 emissions.

An effective industry practice for reducing flight costs, fuel consumption, and harmful emissions is making sure the aircraft operates at optimum speeds and altitudes, also referred to as the vertical flight profile or flight trajectory, for the entire duration of the flight. But because the optimum literally changes with the weather and other variable flight conditions, a continuous reassessment of the optimum trajectory is necessary.

Holistic Flight Profile Optimization Made in Berlin

Pacelab Flight Profile Optimizer (FPO) by Berlin-based software provider PACE is an on-board application that helps pilots reassess the situation and advises them on the most cost- and fuel-efficient way of completing their flight on time. The application takes into account a wide variety of conditions and constraints and is the only commercially available tool to provide a holistic optimization of all flight segments, from takeoff to touchdown.

Leading European and US operators have equipped their flight crews with Pacelab FPO to help them effectively respond to unforeseen changes along the route, carefully balancing operational efficiency considerations, flight punctuality and passenger comfort.

Pacelab FPO – Cost-efficient speeds and altitudes at pilots’ fingertips

Pacelab FPO – Cost-efficient speeds and altitudes at pilots’ fingertips

Pacelab FPO was initially conceived as a decision-support aid running locally on pilots’ Windows-based tablet devices, but rapid progress in flight deck connectivity enabled PACE to introduce a platform-agnostic product variant that leverages the potential of cloud technology. This not only adds significant computation power but also makes Pacelab FPO Cloud available to a wider user base, promoting collaborative decision-making in the air and on the ground.

PACE recently completed the first cloud-based installation of Pacelab FPO Cloud based on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for a large commercial carrier. Pacelab FPO Cloud uses the AWS infrastructure to manage user access and data and to perform computation-intensive optimization tasks.

Transforming Proven On-Board Technology into the Cloud

To perform an iterative optimization of the vertical flight profile which considers the aircraft’s specific performance characteristics, Pacelab FPO Cloud needs to process a multitude of data, including the initial flight plan, the latest weather forecast, and live avionics data as well as manual input by the pilots, all of which are sent to the cloud infrastructure on AWS via IP. When the calculation is completed, the updated optimum speeds and altitudes are pushed to the pilot tablets on board of the aircraft, visualizing the vertical flight profile and quantifying the available savings potential.

Pacelab FPO Cloud leverages a wide variety of AWS technologies and services to provide excellent response times and cutting-edge decision-making support to flight crews and ground-based teams, such as auto-scaling Amazon EC2 compute capacity, Amazon DynamoDB database services, Amazon S3 Glacier storage, AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway and AWS Step Functions workflow management.

Pacelab FPO and AWS cloud server infrastructure

Pacelab FPO and AWS cloud server infrastructure

With more computational power at its disposal, Pacelab FPO Cloud now supports real background processing without limiting other applications and can integrate sophisticated additional features like route optimization or complex conflict detection capabilities, which are currently under development. Moving Pacelab FPO’s business logic from pilot tablets to a cloud server has also made the application platform-independent and readily accessible to user groups beyond the flight deck, enabling or even promoting collaborative decision-making with flight dispatchers and other stakeholders. The cloud platform also guarantees full flexibility, scalability, and multi-tenancy.

A Promising New Approach to On-Board Software

Despite the relatively recent launch of Pacelab FPO Cloud, the market response has been very positive: more than 11,000 pilots operating more than 750 aircraft worldwide are already using the software and the AWS infrastructure to help them with their operational and economic decisions on board.

Using the AWS infrastructure and the additional services of the cloud platform not only holds great potential for future functional enhancements, increased cost savings and, ultimately, a smaller environmental footprint, but also makes the integration of Pacelab FPO into airlines’ wider IT infrastructure and data networks easier, faster, and cheaper than ever before. Improving the integration of business processes and cross-enterprise data analytics will enable airlines to improve their performance protect their bottom line and enhance the passenger experience.

More information is available online at