Modernizing Legacy Systems in Airline Operations Management: Approaches and Best Practices

Various external factors result in outdated technological solutions being replaced by modern ones. Hence, modernizing legacy systems in airline operations is quite apparent when technology adoption is concerned.

Further, with the growth of on-demand citizen services, modernizing legacy software has become even more important. The following section can provide insight into the approaches and best practices that can bring about such operational changes.

Ideally, the approach toward modernization must include the following four aspects:

1. Defining the monoliths

Airlines don’t have a single monolith to manage the entire operation. A software landscape likely distribute between several monoliths dedicated to MRO, operations control centers, aircraft scheduling, etc.

These monoliths may be legacy, and their architecture could complicate due to the embedment of third-party services. When the initial mapping of the software landscape define, the main monolithic parts get highlighted.

2. Adopting DevOps

Microservices architecture forms the basis of engineering agility. However, you can’t achieve that without DevOps. The practice usually entails combining a software engineering team with frontline IT operations. While these two groups work as a single unit, microservices allow streamlined feedback loops and fast adjustments.

3. Adopt microservices

Adopting microservices in airline operations management may not directly impact legacy monoliths, but it can reduce efforts to break down and refactor them.

4. Extract modules

Mapping multiple modules in a single monolith needs you to consistently extract separate modules into microservices by connecting through APIs.

In addition to the approaches, some of the best practices in modernizing legacy systems include the following.

1. Data Management

Most airlines must improve management and internal data sharing to streamline cross-unit operations. Most records underuse or soil, which complicates business intelligence and ETL operations. The recognized approach to data management includes foundation, analytics, and visualization.

  • Foundation: Foundation includes implementing microservices architecture and cloud. They allow real-time retrieval and data unification for cross-unit data exchange and BI operations.
  • Analytics: Machine learning and data science have allowed scaling from the descriptive stage to the prescriptive and predictive analytics stage. Prescriptive levels entail defining automation for decision support systems and BI, while predictive analytics enables anticipation of future events.
  • Visualization: Visualization defines analytics accessibility and speed of reaction of human operators to incoming information. However, modernizing data management depends on changes in internal management and engineering efforts.

Airline management must align software used to access data in real-time by:

  • Introducing archival policies and data retention lead to data coherency and data processing.
  • Introducing policies of data governance to control and audit data operations.

2. Enterprise mobility

More airlines are also applying BYOD policies and mobility measures to enable real-time and unified crew, roster updates, and scheduling. This practice can enable instant data retrieval, monitoring fuel levels, storing files and notes in a single repository, real-time debriefing data, and reducing paperwork.

The two main initiatives on which implementation of enterprise mobility strategy in airlines depends are:

  • Mobile UX engineering: The challenge in mobile UX engineering is developing a proper UX design. Hence, user-friendly applications that allow instant data retrieval should highlight.
  • Cloud migration: Cloud-based architecture allows the back-end environment to source data instantly from various business units and facilitates its availability through SaaS-based mobile apps. This architecture can install on employee-owned or corporate devices.

Upgrading the legal IT system keeps a firm competitive. It is best to start with database and architectural changes as the first initiatives that may serve as the backbone for future improvements. However, modernization is not a one-time project. You will only achieve excellent results and expand the business through continuous support and maintenance. 

Airline Operations Management

Airline operations managers are responsible for the integration of several different functions to provide efficient and effective service. While these positions do not usually receive a great deal of public attention, they are often responsible for enabling the success of an airline. Their work combines a wide range of different inputs and the exercise of judgment to influence the results. Their outputs are often the value of the combined inputs of different departments, from marketing and engineering to customer service and ground handling. They also oversee large numbers of direct and contracted staff.

Airlines are also increasingly relying on technology to improve their processes and optimize operations. Airline operations are the nerve center of the airline business, and their effectiveness and efficiency directly affect the customer experience. However, to improve airline operations, airlines are implementing Integrated Operations Centers (IOCs). These are designed to reduce the risk of disruption and inefficient operations.

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