Like anyone else who has ever spent a lot of time in Sales, I tend to travel a lot. While not as much as I once did, I still take 15-20 trips annually for work, plus the usual torturous family vacation. One thought that I have always had is....how do they keep all of those moving parts working on such a complicated piece of machinery?
Let's face it....planes are a marvel of engineering on a level that most of us don't even understand. Being able to design, build and operate a machine that is capable of being up in the air for 12+ hours, while offering a high level of "creature comfort" is truly amazing when you stop to think about it. With all of the moving parts on a plane, how do they keep everything working smoothly?
Aviation was always an early adopter in many different technologies:
- They have used various automation solutions
- They were among the first to use mobile computing
- They have even spawned many of the mechanical evolutions/inventions that we take for granted today
So, it is not like the airplanes of the past decades were "dumb" devices....they've just gotten a lot smarter.
Enter GE's Propulsion Test platform.....basically, a retrofitted Boeing 747. The plane now has over 12 football field’s worth of wiring, in addition to radio technology to give GE's engineers much more data than ever before. Today's planes always require more power… even more power than GE's current crop of jet engines will be able to deliver. So, in order to push the envelope of engineering capability, GE needed to get more data than ever before.
These sensor-based networks will provide much more critical data, such as the temperature of all parts of the engine's systems, the true accurate amount of thrust being generated and an accurate detail of how the rest of the plane is being affected by this extra power.
The Bottom Line
It really shouldn't surprise anyone that Aviation would be a major adopter of Big Data / IoT. First, there is simply too much data being generated by these engineering marvels (and too high of a stake, in terms of human life and financial investment) not to know what is truly going on while these machines are flying at hundreds of miles per hour. As well, GE has made many announcements about its intention to get into the Industrial Internet on a bigger scale, so why would it not start with its own products? I'm just hoping that they can find a way to use Big Data to more quickly locate my lost luggage in the future...