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Lufthansa seeks political backing in aviation data debate

Lufthansa is calling for action from politicians to ensure that airlines retain free access to the vast amounts of data generated by their aircraft.

Modern jets produce more than one terabyte of data per day, Lufthansa notes. Airlines, OEMs and MRO companies are looking to harness the information to offer new digital services, especially in the MRO segment.

The German group's own MRO arm, Lufthansa Technik, launched its digital services platform, Aviatar, in 2017 – the same year that Airbus and Boeing established their respective Skywise and AnalytX portals.

But there has been debate over who controls and accesses the data.

"Whoever has the data can develop new services and digital products. The growing market for related services in aviation is worth billions," Lufthansa points out in a policy brief.

"If the manufacturers had anything to do with it, they would receive all the data exclusively via encrypted channels even after the aircraft have been delivered," states Lufthansa. It fears that this would sideline the airlines themselves when it comes to accessing the data.

LHT had already criticised Airbus last year over a new data recording and transmission device, FOMAX, which increases the amount of data parameters available on A320-family and A330 jets. In order to access the extra data, operators have to subscribe to at least a basic, free service under Airbus's Skywise platform.

In March, LHT announced the formation of the Aviation DataHub, which it intends to act as an independent platform for airlines, maintenance providers, manufacturers, IT specialists and other service providers, to aggregate and exchange data without competitive restrictions.

"Above all, airlines can choose whether and to whom they wish to provide their data," Lufthansa highlights in the policy brief.

It urges politicians to monitor developments in the field with a view to ensuring flight safety, reliability and preservation of competition in the market for aircraft technical services.

The group also highlights planned regulation in the automotive sector in Germany, under which data will belong to the person who bought the vehicle, not the manufacturer.

"The same logic applies to air transport," Lufthansa argues. "The federal government should quickly ensure the availability of aircraft data in favor of the airlines. Germany should create a legal regulation that can serve as a blueprint for Europe."

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