A pilot uses an app integrated with GroundLink AID+. Teledyne Controls

Teledyne Seeks to Expand Aircraft Interface Device Market

Despite the cost and performance benefits of wirelessly connecting crew devices to EFBs, airlines need to be convinced to make the investment.

The aircraft interface device (AID) market is flourishing and Teledyne Controls wants to stay ahead of the game by expanding its capabilities and convincing airlines of an AID’s value proposition.

Released in 2014 as a software component of Teledyne’s GroundLink Comm+ wireless data transfer system, GroundLink AID+ allows tablets and crew devices to connect wirelessly to electronic flight bags (EFBs), which helps the crew use flight data to solve navigation, performance and fuel consumption challenges. AID+ also eliminates manual data entry errors and provides on-aircraft data storage.

Since the release of AID+, Teledyne Controls has announced partnerships with aviation companies like Lufthansa Systems, Jeppesen and PACE to integrate their flight applications—such as Lido, FliteDeck Pro and Pacelab Flight Optimizer—with the system. The company is also encouraging third-party software developers to interface with its GroundLink systems through its Works with GroundLink developer program. The program allows developers to test their application with GroundLink systems in a lab environment before investing in Teledyne’s hardware and installing it on an aircraft. Since Teledyne boasts the largest installed AID base in the market, according to the company, it says applications compatible with its systems will give software products a significant market advantage.

GroundLink AID+ is installed on more than 10,000 aircraft worldwide, with the 10,000th system recently installed by Qantas. The airline is undertaking fleetwide trials to integrate its EFB fuel optimization app with GroundLink.

Despite substantial interest in the operational and safety improvements an AID can provide, some airlines are still hesitant to invest. According to Murray Skelton, director of business development and strategy at Teledyne Controls, many airlines still have a hard time justifying the cost of an AID.

“As more and more applications are produced by the EFB software vendors that produce tangible cost savings, we believe this barrier will be removed,” says Skelton.

PACE Managing Partner Oliver Kranz concurs: “For airlines to realize the full benefits of AID, they need to see a tangible return on investment.”

Kranz says integrating the company’s Pacelab Flight Optimizer software, which helps determine the most cost-efficient flight trajectory using real-time operational and meteorological data, delivers a new level of control. The integration of Pacelab helps to minimize trip cost and reduce fuel burn by an average of up to 2% per year. According to Kranz, feedback from first users of Pacelab’s integration with GroundLink AID+ already has been encouraging.

Trends in the AID market are equally encouraging. According to a recent report by market research firm MarketsandMarkets, the AID market is projected to grow from $115.9 million in 2016 to $230.8 million by 2021. Narrowbody and retrofit segments are expected to lead the market, with Asia-Pacific projected to be the fastest-growing market for AID.

In addition to its implementation on Qantas, Teledyne Controls has deployed GroundLink Comm+ on more than 90% of commercial aircraft in the China region, with the hope that these aircraft will soon implement AID+ as well.

By the end of 2018, Teledyne will have around 500 aircraft with AID+ deployed, a figure that the company expects to accelerate due to the high growth of the market and the low cost of AID+—particularly for aircraft with GroundLink already installed, because implementation of AID+ does not require any extra hardware. GroundLink units are deployed in more than 10,000 aircraft and Skelton says the company is well placed to become the market lead.

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