Airlines Can't Afford Technology They Should Have

from the things-could-be-better dept

Last year we posted a story about the technology gap – the difference in technology between what is available, and what companies are doing. The point was optimistic. There are so many useful technologies out there that companies aren’t making use of – it suggests that there’s plenty of room for the economy to grow. Until then, however, the economy is making sure the technology gap stays wide. Over at PC Magazine, a writer is complaining about all the technology that’s available, but not being used due to tight economic pressures. He mostly focuses on the airline industry, where he lists out any number of technologies, all available today, that don’t get installed because the economic situation of the airlines is so bad. Of course, as he points out, airlines like JetBlue are making use of many of these new technologies, and as those airlines grow, they’ll either force out the “major” airlines and become the major airlines themselves – or they’ll force the major airlines to catch up.

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Comments on “Airlines Can't Afford Technology They Should Have”

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Munich says:

Another Example: Space Shuttle

What always amazes me is that the “high-tech” space shuttle is filled with computer technology that is what, at least 10 and I think 20 years old.

I understand that there is some custom design work, a long approval process, military/rad hard specifications, etc., but they could keep it more up to date than it is (the current issues on the shuttle aside).

Glenn says:

This guys is full of *****

Mike – so disappointed that you are giving this guy further exposure. Point by point I think his article is either (a) wrong or (b) biased with inappropriate comparisons. The ‘wrong’ part is that (1) that AA’s B757’s don’t have power ports in coach and (2) that the airlines have not chosen to upgrade the security machines that ignorant-boy so aloofly alluded to when in fact the airports and the TSA are responsible for checkpoint security. And the TSA is government, which means that you, the people, are paying for it. But it?s not the money, it?s the privacy issues with people shown basically naked through the scanning devices that has halted production.

Now, as to the old, useless, or unavailable aircraft side technology (verbiage corresponding to useless-boy editor?s remarks). Yes there is technology out there that would allow a single computer system to detect whether a seat is straight-up and whether a seat belt is clipped in. But let me ask you this, on a personal level: would you rather have a flight attendant visually inspecting this or would you rather have a 5% probability of taking a 15 minute to 1 hour delay because one of the seats is not working? Here?s my personal underlying thought: eventually, such technology would allow airlines to staff aircraft with fewer flight attendants (in theory). So the plane can?t take off without having 100% of the technology completely functional. Now we have 100 aircraft with 150+ seats, that make on average 4 flights per day, or 60,000 seat departures. Or 60,000 clicks and unclicks per day; 60,000 seat movements. What?s the failure probability on that?

Then you come to the biz school of thought. Okay, if the airlines are going to invest $X dollars in technology, is this really the killer app you guys (aka the customers) have been hoping on a star for? Would you rather cut a half-hour of the airport check-in time (and we?ve likely cut more than that over average, but clue-less-editor-boy doesn?t mention this) or have automated seat-belt checkings?

Like I said? very disappointed in this one. Not so much that you quoted the article, Mike, but that you have an agreeable disposition.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: This guys is full of *****

Hey Glenn,

Thanks for you points. All good points to know. However, my point in discussing the article was not to complain about the airlines at all, but just to suggest that there are new technologies (in any industry) that are still coming down the way, and that the idea that “technology is over” is silly.

The airline industry and this article in particular were just an example of that.

Still, good points. Figured you’d chime in sooner or later with an informed opinion. 🙂


Glenn says:

Re: Re: This guys is full of *****

Yes, understood. I think that airlines, more so than a lot of other industries, are slow technology adopters. This stems from the lack of non-aircraft capital spending, and results in a formal ROI-justified review process for any technology related development — for most things. The unfortunate reality is that most people buy the lowest fare available, given a choice of the major airlines. So any investments really have to either (a) cut costs or (b) generate more revenue, as opposed to adding an unquantified benefit for the customer.

So yes… lots and lots of great and exciting technology out there that could be used by the carriers. Not so much technology out there that can generate short term ROI with sustainable real results.

Over and out.


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