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Digital Transformation Destination: IoT Technology Transforming the Aviation Industry

Moving people and goods around the globe involves managing a staggering amount of logistics in the airline industry. U.S. airports accommodate 2.7 million airline passengers and 44,000 flights each day and air cargo transports over $6 trillion worth of goods, accounting for approximately 35% of world trade by value. With so many moving operational and service components, the airline industry is turning to IoT technology to improve passenger experience, increase efficiency and reduce costs.

IoT technology is everywhere today and industries across sectors are increasingly embracing it. The aviation industry is one of the industries making significant investments in IoT. According to, IoT in the aviation market is projected to grow to $1.94 billion by 2025, up from $593 million in 2019. Furthermore, the IDC expects airport facility automation to be one of the IoT use cases that will see the fastest spending growth over the 2017-2022 forecast period.

The airline industry is leveraging IoT in many areas of their operations to improve customer experience, including baggage handling. Every year, airports and airlines handle 4 billion bags—some of which inevitably go astray. Lost, delayed and mishandled baggage is a major headache for travelers and an issue that significantly increases traveler dissatisfaction. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Air Travel Consumer Report ranked mishandled baggage as one of the top air travel consumer complaints second only to complaints about flight problems and delays.

Airlines are using IoT technology to help make mishandled baggage a thing of the past. An asset tracking collaboration launched last year by Sigfox and Amadeus (a tourism IT solutions provider), is helping airlines do just that. This strategic alliance, called PinPoint, provides a portfolio of end-to-end tracking solutions including real-time visibility into the location of luggage at all times.

The IoT technology used in PinPoint helps airlines reduce incorrect routing and incidence of lost bags, ensuring that luggage gets to the right place at the right time. Through cost-efficient reusable tags placed on luggage, proximity sensors installed across airports and Sigfox global coverage, airlines are able to monitor luggage, accurately track its location and detect anomalies.

Travelers don’t typically care how their luggage gets to their destination; they just care that it does. While airline passengers won’t notice Sigfox’s IoT technology operating seamlessly in the background, they will notice that their luggage arrived safe and sound. This not only helps airlines enhance customer satisfaction but reduces costs associated with lost baggage claims and increases luggage handling efficiency.

The PinPoint portfolio of solutions can also help airports with asset tracking. Asset tracking, a critical operational function in airports, is an area where IoT technology can provide gains in efficiency and reduce the financial impact of lost assets. Airports and airlines can use PinPoint for real-time visibility and control of all key terminal assets including items such as spare parts, landing gear, and Unit Load Devices (ULD). For high-value assets such as ULDs, airlines can use this technology to collect data on ULD location and movement to optimize ULD management and significantly reduce the risk of loss. The system enables users to see where every piece of equipment is at any given time and sort for specific equipment types (i.e. generators or tow arms).

Asset tracking IoT technology can even help reduce departure delays by making sure equipment like ground service vehicles, portable water trucks, de-icing vehicles, and catering vehicles are at the right gate at the right time.

There are a host of other IoT applications that can be integrated into the airport environment. For example, IoT sensors can monitor the maintenance of ground equipment to increase equipment uptime and facilities management can be improved with IoT sensors installed on assets like trash cans to send alerts when they need to be emptied or on bathroom soap dispensers to signal when they need to be filled. These are just a few of the many IoT applications that are transforming airports.

As the aviation industry continues the drive toward full digital transformation to what is referred to as Airports 4.0, IoT technology will play a key role in revolutionizing the way airports operate and provide services to passengers. The PinPoint portfolio of solutions shows this transformation in action by providing new levels of digitization and connectivity to airports that help them save costs, increase efficiency and improve the travel experience.

While PinPoint is helping the airline industry advance digital transformation initiatives, the platform has applications across the travel sector. Sigfox and Amadeus are continuing to partner to offer end-to-end tracking solutions to hospitality and other travel industries that will cover the full traveler journey. Stay tuned!