Holiday Travel Was Chaotic — One Startup is Fixing the Airport Madness With Software & Autonomy
LOS ANGELES, February 14, 2023 (Newswire.com) - Moonware, a venture-backed California startup, is solving some of the biggest challenges in air travel. With recent news of significant delays due to IT failures and air traffic control issues, Moonware's technology aims to improve efficiency and reliability in commercial and cargo aviation with intelligent airport systems.
Holiday travel is near pre-pandemic levels, but that has brought a host of new challenges. This year, airlines left thousands of passengers stranded or with missing bags, and thousands of flights were canceled, delayed or diverted. A Christmas blizzard that affected airlines across North America has highlighted the fact that many stakeholders have been slow to invest in upgrading their IT systems, where archaic tools like walkie-talkies and paper are still prevalent.
Moonware comes into the picture at a challenging time for air travel. The company is developing an "airside OS," HALO, which coordinates the ground crew and equipment responsible for servicing aircraft with tasks such as baggage loading, fueling, cleaning, catering, and more. Optimizing these ground operations helps carriers reduce delays and turnaround times while increasing aircraft utility.
Weather-related issues affect the scheduling of staff needed to operate flights, ranging from pilots and cabin crew to ramp agents and ground handlers who are responsible for servicing aircraft. Moonware's HALO app "Uber-izes" airport ground logistics, pairing ramp agents with flights through an automated system, which also uses smart routing to help ground crews navigate across the tarmac. Efficiently allocating people and vehicles across the airfield saves time and fuel, cutting emissions and costs.
Real-time data is key in the system's ability to redistribute staff and assets during last-minute schedule changes, which is absent in existing operations. Today's legacy scheduling tools lack built-in redundancies for unscheduled changes and setbacks. Systems that account for the complexities in operational disturbances, regardless of weather, seem to be needed more than ever. "Our technology has the potential to revolutionize the way aircraft are serviced and turnarounds are handled, resulting in a more efficient and sustainable airport experience," says CEO Javier Vidal.
Antiquated scheduling tools were greatly responsible for propagating the effects of the Christmas blizzard, where Moonware is modernizing the ground operations portion of the puzzle. But the company's plans don't stop there.
Beyond software, part of the company's roadmap includes deploying autonomous and electric ground support equipment (GSE) to augment "last-mile" airside tasks. "The biggest advantage of deploying autonomous vehicles in an airport is the controlled environment of operation. When compared to public roads, airfields are simpler to map, where markings on the tarmac and a myriad of signs can serve as built-in navigational cues," says CTO Saunon Malekshahi.
Moonware is currently working with industry leaders to bring its technology to market, with plans to start testing HALO in the coming months. Its mission is to enable what the company calls the "next-generation of aerial mobility," with automated and sustainable airfields.