IFExpress is known for calling your attention to the “little guy”, and usually new start-ups in our business, no matter how big or small, deserve your attention. This week we present Wisscom, a relatively new venture in Oxford, UK (and possibly soon in Singapore). The company has an interesting goal: “…real-time tracking along with reports that help analyze operationally critical flight and engine data, all helping airlines to cut costs & improve performance.” We note that they, for the most part, see using connectivity hardware (a lot from the IFEC space) to deliver software solutions that airlines need today. According to Wisscom CEO, Abdou Attou, “Wisccom is all about the web2.0 of the SKY & beyond just connectivity & IFE provisioning.”

Let’s take a look at the company. Wisscom is registered and incorporated in the UK since 2013 – it is a young & innovative platform developer providing IFE, Connectivity & data management that they deem “a unique approach to the industry.” The Wisscom team today stands at 8… Four MBA’s from Oxford University and a senior management team with more than 40 years of experience in the aerospace industry, combined. They offer the following products:
1. SmartFleet: Recognizing airlines’ need for operational efficiency and quick turnaround time on the ground, Wisscom’s SmartFleet solution provides airlines with real live tracking along with reports that help analyze operationally critical flight and engine data, helping airlines to cut costs & improve performance.
2. FlyConnect: Our range of existing and available hardware products which are developed to best suit different airlines’ needs for connectivity, in-flight entertainment and flight management systems. FlyConnect is a high-performing, yet affordable system that competes with the best in the industry.
3. FlySaga: Wisscom Aero’s fully customizable and modular software solution, FlySaga, is the best in market in-flight entertainment solution. The completely wireless system provides matchless entertainment experience by beaming services like AVOD, e-Shopping and Games directly to the users’ devices.

Abdou Attou, the founder of the start-up, is a former investment-banking executive in the capital market for over 17 years. He worked as an analyst in the US capital market (NY) after moving to London and worked with Merrill Lynch where he covered the aerospace industry. From our perspective, he is a full time entrepreneur driven by innovation with some exciting and, possibly, disruptive ideas. Noted Mr. Attou: “We realized that though airlines had a lot of data regarding various parameters of a flight, they did not have a tool to derive actionable intelligence from it, in addition, the connectivity solutions on offer were extremely expensive for all but a limited band of airlines. Wisscom was started to address these problems. We aspire to do so by providing customized flight analytics reports apart from high speed, low cost and reliable connectivity to airlines in Europe and Asia.”

OK, Mr. Attou, we got the message but what are the benefits of your products to the airlines you serve? Wisscom’s products must appeal to customers for a variety of reasons we asked. “Lets look at them,” he said, “1. Self-funded: SmartFleet provides users with a means to record flight data in real time as well as interpret this data to improve operational efficiency and hence reduce costs, hence, in a way, Wisscom’s products pay for themselves. 2. Low Cost: Due to the unique design of Wisscom solutions, the overall cost for the airlines is reduced significantly. Since the FlyConect hardware can host both SmartFleet and FlySaga, while supporting the SatCom system as well, the hardware costs are cross-subsidized. Moreover, the IFE system offered by Wisscom, being completely wireless and lightweight is significantly cheaper than traditional offerings. And 3. Multiple adoption routes: Since SatCom, SmartFeet and FlySaga are powered by the same on-board hardware, FlyConnect, airlines have the option to begin with one of the solutions and introduce the other solutions as and when the business need arises. Wisscom ensures that there are minimum changes to the existing setup whenever one of the solutions is adopted, making the staggered adoption method viable & cost-effective.”

IFExpress was also curious about the specific airline benefits and their competitive product features and Mr. Attou responded: “There are at least 11 reasons airlines benefit from the data Wisscom sells:
1. APU Usage and fuel calculation (this is used to determine APU’s running when ground power units are available), also excessive APU usage.
2. Altitude at gear-down for Flaps 3 and Full (this is used to determine if the aircraft are using gear down in an attempt to slow down)
3. Altitude/Speed at landing flap selected (This is used to monitor final configuration changes and also excessive flap extension speed (stressing the flaps).
4. Flaps 3 vs. Flaps 4 usage and trending (A319/320/321) used to monitor adherence to configuration 3 vs. configuration full landings (i.e. managed approaches for fuel conservation).
5. Aircraft Gate Wait by airport (used to monitor when aircraft sit at the approach to a gate and are not marshalled in, looks at throughput efficiencies of ground staff and can be used to access operational cost related to crew time/pay; passenger missed connections etc.).
6. Single Engine Taxi Usage (pure and apples Fuel savings).
7. Thrust Reverser Usage (used to look at adherence to Idle Thrust on landing and Fuel savings)
8. Brake Temperatures at landing and TO (used to look at the brake temperatures after landing at hot airports and to identify hot airports with quick turn rounds that are stressing the brake systems.)
9. Trim issues in cruise (used to compute the excess fuel burned by aircraft with poor trim characteristics and compute saving in fuel if Trim issues / sensors corrected).
10. Percentage Fuel burn difference Eng 1 to Eng 2. Used to identify aircraft with inefficient engines in cruise so that can be routed to short haul, also used to identify efficient aircraft which are suited for Long haul flight.
11. Runway degradation study (used to determine runways that have deteriorated to the point where it is showing up on the FDM program (Runway maintainers and airport authorities/engineering companies would be interested in this tool.

Mr. Attou went on: The main aim is to unlock the potential of Big Data. Understanding the customers’ ‘DNA’ is transforming airlines’ services, as every time a mobile phone is switched on, a product bought online or a comment made on Facebook, a trail of electronic information is laid down that can be collected, sliced, diced, and analyzed by those who have access to it. This is beyond business intelligence. Collating data to produce reports and identify strategy is about planning for the future”. He went on, “Big Data is the ‘cusp of the next evolution’ in the field of information and data management. Big Data, as understood and accepted by most today, is high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety information assets which can create substantial economic value and help with operations, decision-making, risk management and customer service. So what can an airline REALLY do? Firstly, I think it should STOP thinking how to make more money from its passenger and change its mind-set to what can it do to add more value for its customers. Secondly, with Big Data and real-time processing ability, it is no longer about one size fits all.

“Additionally, in-flight merchandising and inflight advertising are two natural elements to this chain of thought, but not just random one-size-fits-all advertising. In-flight social networking and in-flight entertainment are not too far behind. “Constant connectivity” – a primary human requirement that changed the world of telephony from fixed line to mobile to smart mobile is yet another value driver. Airline ancillary revenue should not just be about baggage fees or unbundling, but should aim to create value propositions based on increasingly real-time information about customer preferences and needs and using that information for targeted services. For a new entrant, Abdou Attou has our attention, and should have yours too!

Lastly, we were curious about the competition and Abdou told IFExpress, “…None have the approach on data importance we bring to the table, as Wisscom tries to bring some intelligent answers to the following questions that airlines can start asking themselves.”

Are all the passengers going to need roaming facilities on their mobile phones when they travel away from their native land? Can we help them lower their roaming charges or make free calls via the web? Can we help establish ecommerce on board aircrafts with SKYMALL concept?
Inflight advertising? But caution must be exercised to do it tastefully and without intrusion. Mixing it with free Wi-Fi access and premium inflight entertainment could make it seem reasonable. One could target teenagers and low fare customers before premium passengers in a personalized manner.
Do airlines just want to focus on core-competency of operating flights – safely, can they outsource pre-flight, inflight and post-flight ancillary operations to an entrepreneur with the highest potential? When you can outsource back-office operations, why not ancillary revenue operations? United Airlines with partnership with DirectTV, and Singapore Airlines’ Krishop being operated by DFASS are just two shining examples of the potential opportunities. With Airlines collecting valuable passenger information, these outsourcing partners can generate substantially higher values than the airlines can do themselves.

In closing Mr. Attou told us, “So, Wisscom can put back the romance and adventure in flying that it once was? It’s time to get creative and move up the value chain. The next generation of passengers demand not just a flight but an experience, a personalised one at that.” You can reach Mr. Attou at: abdou.attou@wisscom.co.uk. And check out www.wisscom.co.uk and the linked presentation.