The volume of passengers and complexity of airports have diminished air travel quality to the point where it affects passengers universally, irrespective of travel class. The declining 'end-to-end' travel quality is increasingly caused by the negative emotions generated in gaining access to the aircraft and the significant difference between home life and life on-board.
The E-CAB project objective was to establish an electronically enabled paperless information management system that encompasses all logistics processes of a 'gate-to-gate' journey and that allows airlines, airports, other service providers and handling agents to operate more time and cost efficiently and to offer their costumers the services they want.
The project targeted at setting-up the technical framework of technologies, architectures, functions and associated services, in order to generate added value for all involved in the air travel logistics:
- Provide passengers with more choices to select from when booking on-line. Shorten their travel time by providing efficient guidance through the airport terminal to the gate and, if necessary, utilize fast track facilities. Allow the passenger to stay seamlessly connected throughout his journey by offering office and home like on-board services, leaving it up to the passenger to connect also with their own personal electronics devices, e.g. mobile phones and laptop computers.
- Provide airports with a streamlined and automated passenger handling system that moves the passengers efficiently through the airport. Through reliable prediction of late-show and no-show passengers, the system shall support a disciplined gate management.
- Provide airlines with cabin and cargo information management tools using air-to-ground communications, which seamlessly integrates the aircraft into the ground based IT infrastructure, thus enabling improved on-schedule aircraft management at reduced direct operating costs.
- Provide the cabin crew with efficient and flexible means for improving the on-board handling services logistics. The cabin crew's workload shall be reduced via new paperless content management applications.
- Last but not least reduce aircraft development costs by definition of an on-board communication architecture capable of being easily scaled and adapted to customer needs.
In order to achieve the ambitious goals, E-CAB as an Integration Project (IP) followed a holistic approach to reconsider the complete logistics of a passenger's journey from gate to gate. To make its complexity manageable, the complete logistic chain was split into four parallel and interconnecting end-to-end service chains:
- 'People moving' focussed on providing airports and airlines with passenger status information, including a reliable prediction of late-show or no-show passengers, and to offer guidance to the passengers to help him to proceed to the gate.
- 'Passenger services' concentrated on services on-board by seamlessly connecting the passenger to the outside world, both for entertainment and business in the sky offering TV and audio / video on demand, e-mail and internet access, conferencing and IP-based 3G telephony.
- 'Freight handling' addressed seamless, automated baggage and freight management solutions, mainly based on radio frequency identification (RFID). It also covered wireless monitoring of the container contents, so that airlines are continuously receiving reliable status information about luggage and freight throughout the flight.
- 'Catering services' focussed on newly designed RFID supported logistic covering both off-board logistics before flight as well as on-board services for the passengers during flight.
For each of these four end-to-end service chains a separate sub-project was dedicated, which developed the necessary architectures, technologies and functions. To ensure a close alignment between all end-to-end service chains, all work performed within the individual sub-projects was put on the basis of a common process model, encompassing all involved stakeholders and derived from common top level requirements. Key enabler for the seamless interaction between the four end-to-end-service was the development of an common integrated communication infrastructure, which allows airlines, airports, service providers and other handling agents to efficiently exchange and manage all passenger and flight process related information via web services and intelligent data brokers.
A consortium of 30 partners from 13 countries across Europe - including European global players, small and medium-sized enterprises, research institutes and universities - offered all necessary complementary skills and competencies to achieve the project objectives and to improve the European competitiveness in th
With the overall positive project results and the good coverage of the Top Level Benefits it can be stated that E-Cab has substantially contributed to the technical and scientific objectives of the FP6 framework programme and has well complied with the goals of the Strategic Research Agenda of the European Commission.
The social objectives in terms of improving the Quality of Life and the offer for a more Healthy Workplace for the cabin crew have been well achieved. The overall high scoring of the top level benefits deliver ample evidence that the policy objectives in terms of a higher independence of the European equipment industry has been satisfied and has reinforced their competitiveness.
The continuous involvement of the E-Cab External Advisory Group (EEAG) provided very valuable feedback from the operational perspective, which was essential for closely aligning all project work to market needs. Through the EEAG, E-Cab also achieved a high industry-wide awareness and has fostered new and rewarding business contacts between project partners and stakeholders.
The recommendation for the involved partners and their way ahead is to use their gained knowledge to affect the standardisation work that is relevant for their field of expertise.
E-Cab aimed at providing the European avionic industry with the capability of producing the information management systems, to be installed in future airports and aircraft for improving passengers' comfort and crew members' working environment. In this way, E-Cab contributed to the worlwide knowledge-based economy, therefore promoting more and better jobs and greater social cohesion within and around Europe. Furthermore in the long term the project achievements, delivered through a balanced consortium of European aerospace and related organisations contributed to increased highly skilled employment throughout the supply chain.