McLaren Applied

The latest step in bringing Formula 1 technology and data science into the aviation industry


The latest step in bringing Formula 1 technology and data science into the aviation industry

McLaren Deloitte and NATS, the UK air traffic service, have today announced a collaboration agreement aimed at transforming how operational decisions are made in the aviation industry.

It will see them work together on products that combine the respective expertise from each of the leading organisations; bringing together state-of-the-art analytics and data science with the real-world experience of network and airport capacity management.

The announcement represents the latest step in a strategic commitment to the aviation industry for McLaren Deloitte. A relationship which began in May 2017, when McLaren Applied Technologies and Deloitte joined forces to deliver data-driven products that close the “physical-to-digital” divide for organisations.

In aviation, this revolves around developing a suite of solutions for the industry in response to exponential growth in passenger numbers and demand which far exceeds capacity.

During every Formula 1 race, McLaren considers millions of possible scenarios to then model the outcome of a range of tactical decisions. Meanwhile, Deloitte is renowned for its experience in using data analytics to deliver large consulting projects globally.

These capabilities, combined with NATS’ expertise in managing congested and complex airspace and airports, are now being deployed to help the aviation industry understand and accurately predict the impact of decisions before they are even made.

Performance Optimiser is the first product to emerge from the collaboration.

Performance Optimiser has been developed in collaboration between McLaren Deloitte data scientists and NATS air traffic and airspace capacity management. It allows Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) to review and model the effect of a wide range of tactical decisions in en-route and terminal airspace, such as the use of flow regulations, to maximise available airspace capacity and minimise delays.

Equipped with a digital twin of the airspace, ANSPs can run ‘what-if’ scenarios to understand the impact of decisions and how they could have been improved.

Mark Mathieson, McLaren, Mark Cooper, Deloitte and Martin Rolfe, NATS, sign the agreement
Mark Mathieson, McLaren, Mark Cooper, Deloitte and Martin Rolfe, NATS, sign the agreement

The cloud-based system offers instant access to operational data, allowing the user to view a range of factors that may influence air traffic – from the level of flow regulations and weather conditions, through to the occurrence of sporting events – to make an informed decision that helps best manage the airspace.

Performance Optimiser can then simulate how different decisions would have changed the outcome for any given day, allowing operational supervisors to not just review performance, but inform future decisions and quickly apply their learning to drive improvement.

It’s a case of learning from the past to improve the future in a closed loop system – identical to the approach used in Formula 1 – rapidly switching from post-operation analysis to pre-operation planning.

NATS is already evaluating the tool to help balance traffic flows against capacity and identify opportunities to improve performance.

Mike Phillips, Director, Aviation, McLaren Applied Technologies, said:

"Together McLaren and Deloitte are focusing on the growing needs of airport operations and are investing in a suite of solutions. This new collaboration with NATS enables us to deliver F1 derived simulation and analytics to air traffic management, enabling operational supervisors to make decisions based on data driven insights.

"The potential offered by sensors, simulation and data analytics to the airspace navigation sector is significant, but until now it has been difficult for the industry to bridge the gap between the physical and digital world. This relationship will provide NATS and its customers with data that allows them to improve operational efficiency and unlock the benefits that come with it."

Mark Cooper, Deloitte Aviation Technology Partner, Deloitte, said:

"As the UK airspace becomes more crowded it will be increasingly difficult to manage, and McLaren Deloitte are delighted to be working in collaboration with NATS to provide a solution powered by the concept of a digital twin.

“By taking all the experience and knowledge of air navigation professionals and enhancing it with advanced analytics and simulation, Performance Optimiser allows operational supervisors to make data-augmented decisions which improves both operational efficiency and consistency. This product will enable NATS, as well as the global aviation community, to make the best decisions in managing the airspace, and we look forward to working with them to achieve this."

Martin Rolfe, NATS Chief Executive Officer, said:

"On the surface, aviation and Formula 1 might seem like an unlikely collaboration, but we are increasingly looking at opportunities to work with people outside of the traditional aviation industry to find new ways to help our customers.

"NATS has a world-class capability in managing busy and complex traffic flows, and we’re already seeing the benefits of combining that expertise with what McLaren Deloitte do so well. I’m excited to see where else this will go next."

Other products already in advanced development include additional airline and airport optimisation products.

Explore McLaren Deloitte alliance aviation products.  

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