Innovations in ICT for paperless flights and enhanced passenger experience.
Founded in 2001, Irish aviation software company Flightman has evolved from its origins in consultancy to become a now-leading global provider of “connected aircraft” solutions to airlines. The company’s innovative software captures data from three activities that traditionally have been managed in silos: flight operations, in-flight service, and technical and engineering information. The combined data is then fed into a central repository and used to drive productivity and operational improvements.
“Historically, we started out by dealing with flight operations,” explains Joe McGoldrick, Chief Executive Officer of Flightman. Joe’s previous experience includes high-level positions such as Chief Technology Officer at Airtel-ATN, and his professional profile is typical of Flightman’s senior management and board members – former aviation professionals with a combined experience of over 80 years’ domain knowledge in the industry.
“Initially, we provided consultancy services to airlines, and this gave us an entry point into the business,” says Joe. “Now we focus on product and providing our customers with a holistic view of what is happening on the aircraft. From that, we take business intelligence and enable our customers to streamline and optimise their flight operations.”
Flightman uses technology to automate processes
The company’s products represent an application of emerging technologies that can automate existing processes in the cockpit, cabin and on the ramp, in turn reducing airline operations and maintenance costs. Flightman has won several awards since its foundation, such as the ICT Excellence Award for “Best Example of Mobile Internet Technology”, recognising its technology as state-of-the-art.
The market opportunity for Flightman’s integrated service offering was made possible by a step change in the aviation industry in 2011, when US flights watchdog the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved pilots’ use of tablets in the cockpit.
“This was a major driver for change,” says Joe. “The FAA’s move really opened the door and lowered the hurdles for the use of commercial devices in the cabin.”
With the tablets, pilots were, for the first time, able to quickly and efficiently access reference material without having to sift through reams of paper containing essential data such as weather information, flight paths, manuals, and so on, using commercial off-the-shelf devices.
Global client base
By capitalising on this breakthrough, Flightman has succeeded in establishing a truly global client base, with customers from Europe, the Middle East (Oman, United Arab Emirates), Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia), South America, and the US. The company’s prospects are bright: “Along with our customers in the Middle East and Europe, we’re seeing a lot of interest in our products in North America,” says Joe.
One of the success factors for Flightman’s expansion is the close working relationship it builds with clients. Joe cites the case of Oman Air: “Before we started working with them, all the pilots used to assemble in a briefing room to receive folders containing up to 70 pages of information for their flight, which they then carried around with them in big flight bags.”
“Through the use of pilot-issued tablets, crew can retrieve the required information for the flight and can complete all the information on board. Through the Flightman app, this data is immediately available to staff on the ground,” he explains.
Flightman’s key innovation is to bring the data from different aspects of the flight into one central database and use it to optimise operational efficiencies. Just like cumbersome paperwork for pilots, “cabin crew used to also fill in a lot of paper reports,” says Joe. Now, using Flightman’s integrated software products, ground crews can be immediately alerted to issues in the cabin.
“To take a couple of examples, maybe the smoke detector isn’t working, or the coffee machine is broken – now using our software, these issues can be communicated by the flight crew in real time, and someone will be ready at the next turn around to fix it,” says Joe. By collating passenger data, Flightman’s clients can also provide enhanced passenger service, a key differential in today’s competitive market.
In essence, the Flightman Solutions Suite is an integrated set of “connected aircraft applications” which, together with the ground server, offer a robust and complete solution. The Solutions Suite provides underlying features to support all of the applications and to enable each aircraft to act as a connected node in a fully integrated network. This means that airlines can achieve optimised regulatory compliance, total operational efficiency and enhanced in-cabin passenger service and revenue opportunities by seamlessly connecting and integrating the aircraft within the enterprise IT infrastructure. Flightman continues to develop its product offering and is currently working on several new product developments in response to market demands.
Up to two dozen airlines are using Flightman’s products, and now the venture capital-funded company “is at an inflexion point,” says Joe. On 2 April 2019, it was announced that Ethiopian Airlines had selected Flightman as their EFB provider. What’s more, the company is “in advanced discussions”, according to Joe, with a major US market player.
“This positive response from the market is validating Flightman’s core business goal,” says Joe, “to design, develop and integrate leading-edge technology in the aviation industry worldwide.”
Timothy Sinnott is the SVP of Industrial Technologies for the Southern US, and is based at Enterprise Ireland’s office in Austin, Texas. In this role, Sinnott has a specific focus on the aerospace, aviation, energy, and precision engineering sectors in the United States. He works to assist Irish companies looking to expand in these industries by helping them develop their market presence, make connections with local business, and form partnerships in the US.
Timothy Sinnott- SVP of Industrial Technologies
Sinnott has worked with many organizations in the aerospace industry for several years from a test and measurement perspective but has recently had a much more concentrated focus on the larger aerospace and aviation industry. We recently sat down with Sinnott to learn more about this critical industry and about the opportunities it presents for Irish technology companies.
What are some key issues the industry is currently facing?
The whole industry has been developing and incorporating new technologies at an increasing rate, which impacts all stages of design, manufacturing, operation, and maintenance. This adds pressure to suppliers and maintenance operations to stay up-to-date with changing needs while maintaining their competitive positioning. Major industry disruptions, such as the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX fleet, places additional stress on supply chains as long-term project schedules and fleet strategies are forced to adjust.
Irish companies help solve these problems by providing world-class part designs, manufacturing, custom engineering services, and innovative technology solutions to both new and old parts of the industry.
Where do you see the industry going?
New technologies are enabling change across all aspects of the industry. Additive manufacturing capabilities are allowing longer-term support for existing fleets as custom parts are more readily available from suppliers. The burgeoning commercial space industry is opening entire market segments as smaller companies can begin to play a part in the future of aerospace, space, and satellite technologies. Innovative composite materials are being used both to replace old components and in new designs of lighter-than-ever parts.
As the industry changes and adopts new technologies, the need for flexible, highly technical, and diverse suppliers will grow. With one of the best technical workforces in the world, combined with a history of excellence and knowledge in the aerospace and aviation field, Irish companies are well suited to these changes.
Do you have tips for Irish aerospace companies looking to expand into the US?
The US aerospace market is easily one of the largest in the world. Significant opportunity exists, but competition can make it difficult to stand out from other companies. Irish companies looking to expand in the US need to have a clear understanding of their value proposition and primary capabilities. Knowing what they do best, how they support customers, and how they realistically compare with their peers is important in establishing a clear market strategy.
Companies should be focused and intentional about where they look to expand in the US. The industry moves slowly and is built on establishing relationships and supplier trust. Choosing the right area and set of customers to establish themselves around is critical to finding early and scalable success. Being present in the region, attending industry events, and building network connections are the best way to build sustained success.
Tell us about MRO Americas, the trade show hosted by Aviation Week publishers
We have had an individual presence at MRO for many years, but have had a full effort with Enterprise Ireland and exhibiting clients together for two years. We grew from six to eight Irish companies from 2018 to 2019. Being able to show the full range of Irish capabilities within a larger area has proven to help the companies stand out at the very large show.
The event gives companies the opportunity to meet, exhibit alongside, and form relationships with companies from all corners of the industry. The chance to meet in person with individual customers from all parts of their respective organizations allows the necessary relationships to form and can be critical in closing new and ongoing business. For the right companies, these industry events help establish recognition, reputation, and engagement in their respective areas of expertise. Our Irish companies in this market have amazing capabilities, so the real challenge is getting their name and information in front of the right individuals.
How was this year’s event beneficial for Irish companies?
Irish companies were able to show off their capabilities and engage with business connections across the whole industry during the show this year. While that enhanced their recognition, it also helped to reinforce the capability and world-class technologies coming out of Ireland. Many were able to connect with members of organizations in person that would have been unavailable or unreachable otherwise. Existing connections and ongoing business were reinforced during meetings, receptions, and events. Companies were able to establish new leads, form new business relationships, and close ongoing business and contracts.
Irish companies that attended MRO Americas
JB Roche designed and patented the world’s first inflatable maintenance shelter in 1999. It has continued to develop and improve its IglooMX® stable of products and now offers over 25 different designs that guarantee a hand-in-glove fit for all models of aircraft. Its fabrics are custom developed and made for use in the harshest environments from-35°C to +70°C ensuring clients get the job done regardless of location or time of year. The IglooMX® is one of the best maintenance investments that you can make with a significant ROI. Scheduled and unscheduled work by over 500 satisfied users with its IglooMX® is an endorsement that the company is proud of. Contact JB Roche for fixed and custom solutions for all aircraft.
Located near Dublin Airport in Ireland, TEAM Accessories is an MRO service provider, providing accessory support on the CFM56-3/5/7, CF6-50/80C2,80A 3D/8D/9D engine for over 25 years with strong product knowledge. It delivers accessory specialization and overhaul services on pneumatic, oil, hydraulic electrical, mechanical and safety equipment accessories on Boeing and Airbus aircraft. Its safety equipment capability extends to slides and rafts together with hydrostatic test and recharge of oxygen bottles.
Eirtech Aviation Services
Eirtech Aviation Services is a world-leading specialist aviation services company providing tailor-made engineering services, advanced composite repair services, and asset management solutions that ensure regulatory compliance to international airlines, private operators and aviation leasing companies globally. Eirtech Aviation Services also develops innovative turnkey solutions for airlines across the world including cabin and cargo bay surveillance system, passenger in-seat USB power and cargo loading system covers.
In business for over 23 years, T&T Precision provides specialized engineering design and manufacturing services to the aero engine MRO sector and is also a high-volume manufacturer of components for aircraft seating and other interior fittings. Located near Cork International Airport, Ireland, the company supplies Tier 1 OEMs worldwide from its 32,000 sq. ft. secure campus. Expert application of optimal machining strategies and continuing investment in high-end technologies makes T&T Precision a highly cost-competitive supplier. Materials routinely processed include hastelloy, inconel, aluminium, and titanium. Injection moulding is also offered. Operating to standards AS9100 and SC21, T&T Precision has a successful track record in aerospace MRO and OEM supply. The company’s medical technology division is also a respected supplier to America’s largest orthopaedics manufacturers.
Airtel ATN is the leading provider of mobile ramp testers for aeronautical data link communication systems, delivering a fully mobile solution that streamlines aircraft data link testing. Airtel’s test equipment and services are used for testing industry standards and validating FANS and ATN implementations across the globe. The FAA and Harris use Airtel’s test tools to verify VDL coverage for Airports across the U.S.
Aerospace Software Developments
Based in Dublin, Ireland, Aerospace Software Developments (ASD) is the world’s leading provider of RFID tracking solutions in aviation. ASD’s RFIDAeroCheck solution tracks 60 different types of emergency equipment and safety locations on aircraft. Of all solutions available in the marketplace, RFIDAeroCheck is the most popular and the most successfully implemented worldwide. Its RFIDAeroTrack solution provides all the functionality necessary, including entity definition, rule-
based alerts and complete data sharing flexibility to allow for the management of tools, assets, staff, components repair, consumables and paper documentation. Tracking over one million RFID tagged items, the RFIDAero suite of business solutions can be hosted by ASD or deployed on site and is fully GS1 accredited and ATA Spec2000 compliant.
Shannon IASC (International Aviation Services Centre) is an industry-focused entity within Shannon Group plc, tasked with building on the well-established aerospace and aviation cluster in Shannon, Ireland. Their mission is to help existing firms locate to the region and develop their business. The focus of the Shannon IASC cluster is global, serving all elements of the aircraft lifecycle, from R&D through to manufacturing, financing, operations and onwards. Shannon IASC is currently the largest aviation cluster in Ireland with over 80 firms employing over 3,000 and growing. Its members have access to a good mix of young, well-educated talent and an unmatched region to live, work and play.
Headquartered in Cavan, Ireland, ATA Group has three manufacturing facilities globally, multiple offices throughout the world, with a robust network of over 1400 distributors in over 60 countries. The company is the world’s premier manufacturer and distributor of precision engineering products such as tungsten carbide burs, pneumatic tools, specialty abrasives, and turning inserts. The company provides tools and consumables for a variety of grinding applications from deburring, stock removal and finishing – across a wide range of materials. Customers operating in key sectors such as aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, shipbuilding and metal fabrication industries benefit from ATA’s expert knowledge of material removal and finishing solutions.
Irish suppliers have much to offer customers in Singapore and the ASEAN region, according to Smruti Inamdar, Director ASEAN at Enterprise Ireland Singapore.
Affinities shared by Singapore and Ireland are making Irish companies increasingly attractive to ASEAN partners and customers.
Coming from a small open economy, Irish companies inherently understand that the region cannot be treated as a cohesive or homogeneous bloc and that each individual market is unique.
Irish companies also appreciate the need to spend time building relationships with local customers and partners. When delivering long-term projects, Irish companies are known for adopting a flexible approach, working in partnership with customers to deliver the best solution, even when unexpected challenges or changes arise.
The appeal of this approach is evident in the growth of Irish exports to, and presences in, Singapore and ASEAN. There are now approximately 300 Irish companies exporting to the region, with 130 companies having at least one presence on the ground. That number continues to grow.
Exports from Ireland to the region reached €320 million last year, following five consecutive years of double-digit growth. Enterprise Ireland, the national export agency, has demonstrated its confidence in the development of the relationship, aiming to increase total exports to €500 million by 2020.
If you are interested in discussing the advantages of sourcing an Irish partner, Enterprise Ireland can help you to assess which innovative products, services, and solutions may be best suited to your requirements.
Let’s take a close look at key sectors in which Irish companies offer a particularly strong advantage to partners in Singapore and ASEAN.
Aerospace and Aviation
With investment in aerospace and aviation continuing to grow, Ireland is emerging as a global hub servicing the needs of rapidly developing industries. Over 250 Irish companies are actively engaged in aerospace and aviation and over 40% of the world’s fleet of leased aircraft are owned and managed from Ireland. That performance has helped Ireland to become widely regarded as a global centre of excellence for aviation, with its proud history of pioneering developments and dynamic innovation.
As the world’s fastest-growing air hub, Singapore must expand its infrastructure to meet growing demand. In July 2017, Singapore to Jakarta and Singapore to Kuala Lumpur were included in the top five of the world’s busiest international air routes. The development of a T5 mega passenger terminal remains on the drawing board, which, when completed, would have the capacity to handle 132 million passengers a year, a huge jump from the 82 million passengers currently served.
In contributing to the region, Irish companies including CAE, Eirtech Aviation and Aero Inspection lead the way, securing aviation opportunities in the wider region from bases in Singapore.
To demonstrate Irish capability in the sector, Enterprise Ireland participated alongside nine client companies in the Aviation Festival Asia in Singapore in February 2018.
As one of the most dense and vibrant urban areas in the world, Singapore is very much leading the way internationally in creating a sustainable building environment. There is much potential for Irish companies to help deliver the government’s ambitious agenda in this area. Singapore is striving towards a target of ‘greening’ 80% of new and existing buildings by 2030 (currently at approximately 30%). The power consumption of Tanjong Pagar Centre, Singapore’s tallest building, is managed by Dublin-headquartered Cylon Controls. Dortek hygienic doors have been used in an inflight catering kitchen facility in Singapore’s Changi Airport, providing hygienic and low temperature sealing solutions to the facility. Enterprise Ireland is also actively working with the Singapore Green Building Council to build awareness of Irish technologies in the area. The growing Irish green-build cluster includes firms such as Kingspan Insulated Panels and LED Group ROBUS.
Irish companies in the high-end construction sector are well positioned to support Singapore’s transformation as a data centre hub for the Asia Pacific region, with the country’s colocation data centre market expected to grow at 13% year-on-year 2017 – 2018 (Source: Structure Research, 2017). Global and regional data centre providers such as Global Switch, Digital Realty, Equinix, Microsoft and Amazon are all operating in Singapore as well as Irish companies active in data centre development, including Linesight, PM Group, and E+I Engineering.
Ireland and Singapore are relatively similar, with both having a small number of local banks and several hundred international financial institutions also located in the market. That shared ecosystem makes for a highly competitive arena in which innovation is a crucial driver.
Ireland is home to one of the most important financial services centres in the EU and one of the world’s largest concentrations of technology companies.
As the main financial services hub in the ASEAN region, a strong cohort of Irish companies are active in Singapore having secured significant wins with SGX (Singapore Exchange), United Overseas Bank (UOB), and Standard Chartered Bank. Ireland’s global leadership in the fintech, regtech and insurtech spaces is also making an impact in other financial hubs in the broader region.
With over 40% of global hedge fund assets serviced in Ireland, its resulting regulatory expertise is leveraged by Irish fintech companies to help funds, banks and insurance companies deal efficiently with compliance, and make better, data-driven management decisions. An established sector of payments technology companies has a strong track record of helping major banks and marketplaces to respond to rapid digitisation and changing consumer demand.
Telecommunications and IoT
Another key offering from Ireland is in telecommunications and Internet of Things (IoT), with Irish technology companies delivering high-end solutions to mobile network operators (MNOs) across the ASEAN region. Irish technology providers have progressed from the provision of SMS technologies and services to more sophisticated data analytics, IoT solutions and technologies used to enhance customer experience.
Irish companies in the sector have been active in the ASEAN region for many years, developing leading solutions to meet the evolving needs of local operators. The Irish telco cluster in ASEAN includes Accuris Networks, Anam, Asavie, Nasctech, Openmind, Tango, and Openet, which has more than 250 staff based in their regional HQ in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Many are now doing business with major operators such as Axiata Group , Globe Telecom in the Philippines, Singtel in Singapore, and Vietnamobile in Vietnam.