Every airline operations dashboard is only as good as the content it provides. This, actually, is not very surprising. However, I’ve seen many dashboards that doesn’t provide much value when it comes to the contained content.
Nonetheless, I’ve set up a whole bunch of airline dashboards during the last years. Dashboards for all types of airlines: Huge network carriers, regional operators, or low-cost airlines. Thus, I was able to learn about both the requirements airlines have but also the content that provides the most value.
Based on this experience I put together the most essential content views every airline dashboard has to contain.
Some Theoretical Background First
To understand this quickly let me quickly introduce you to the basics of an airline dashboard. An airline dashboard usually contains a set of so-called views. Alternatively, the views are called workspaces. A workspace visualizes a certain set of information and KPIs. Usually, each workspace is displayed for a defined time before the dashboard switches to the next workspace.
The number of workspaces differs widely. I’ve worked with user groups at airlines that had one particular use case. Therefore, they only required one or two workspaces. On the other end, some airline departments set up dashboards with more than 20 workspaces.
Nonetheless, what I’ve observed when setting up dozens of dashboards is that most of them have six workspaces in common. I always like to call those four workspaces the dashboard fundament.
Of course, the workspaces most often look slightly different for each airline and each user group at an airline. However, all of them are based on the workspaces I’m going to introduce to you below.
#1: World Map And Top KPIs — The Most Important Airline Dashboard Content
This workspace probably represents the most essential workspace of all. I always like to call it the signum of an airline.
So what’s contained? The world map first and foremost provides an overview of currently operated flights. Of course, in case you are only operating in specific parts of the world, you don’t have to show the entire world map but only required regions.
The world map is aiming to provide awareness and the overall status of your current flights. Besides a perfect overview, we also observed that the world map reflects a considerable asset in terms of emotional motivation.
Additionally, airlines usually incorporate their most important KPIs. Most often this is about Departure Punctuality, Arrival Punctuality, Regularity, or Delay Minutes, for example.
#2: Flight Lists + KPIs Workspace
One of the most critical information an operational dashboard has to include is about upcoming arrivals and departures. We tend to visualize that kind of information quite traditional in two separate lists. Very often, the lists are tailored to specific airports or even focusing on one single hub only.
However, from our point of view, simply showing a list of flights won’t do the trick. Conversely, there are two critical aspects to consider when visualizing arrival and departure flight lists.
Add Useful Flight Information
Solely showing a flight number doesn’t provide a huge benefit. One crucial advice to enrich the flight list with helpful information.
In our example, we are showing additional attributes. Adding the Estimated Time Of Departure or Arrival (ETA and ETD), delay reasons, the number of passengers, or delay minutes provide additional value.
Use Color Highlighting To Enrich Your Airline Dashboard Content
Develop a color highlighting concept that highlights flights according to different rules (specific delay minutes, ground time insufficiency, etc.).
This will bring two fundamental advantages: On the one hand, you can quickly identify single flights with a specific problem, and on the other hand, you can quickly assess the overall situation of your operations according to the overall coloring of the flight list.
With our product, we defined several rules, but all follow the same core principle. In case the flight list is mostly black/white, operations run smoothly. But in case the dashboard more and more turns yellow problems start to rise. Ultimately, if you can spot a lot of red on your dashboard, you are facing massive problems.
#3: Enrich Your Airline Dashboard With Maintenance Content
Besides purely flight-related KPIs, maintenance plays an essential role when it comes to running complex operations. That’s why many of our clients started to set up a dedicated content workspace containing maintenance information.
Since maintenance KPIs highly depend on the airline’s maintenance model, the workspace can differ from airline to airline. However, most of the airlines incorporate a world again, showing the different maintenance stations. Furthermore, the color highlighting in the map show the performance of each maintenance workstation.
On top of that, a set of most essential maintenance KPIs completes this workspace.
#4: Benchmarks For A Comprehensive Overview
Many airlines recently introduced a benchmark workspace to keep a close eye on their most important KPIs. From a visual point of view, the workspace simply visualizes a set of KPIs in rows and columns. Accordingly, the user is enabled to swiftly and comprehensively compare KPIs.
Basically, there are many different possibilities of how to use a benchmark workspace. Here are a few examples:
- Compare your fleets, for example, Boeing vs. Airbus
- Compare traffic regions, for example, traffic to America vs. traffic to Asia
- Compare your hubs
#5: Weather Workspace
Especially when it comes to medium and long-haul operations, the importance of accurate weather information is enormous. Since there are many providers for weather data (METAR, TAF), it is relatively easy to integrate this kind of information.
The challenge we observed is in translating the information (METAR and TAF are quite cryptic for many people). That’s why we put a lot of effort into visualizing the text-based information.
Additionally, to avoid an information overflow, it makes sense to pay attention to highlighting specific aspects (exceptional winds, clouds, thunderstorms, etc.)
#6: Airport Workspace
The airport workspace is especially important for hub-and-spoke airlines. From our point of view, the workspace has to include essential content about current aircraft at an airport and their position.
Similar to world maps and flight lists, it makes sense to include additional information on flights. And again, use color highlighting to highlight problem-related aircraft.
Additionally, you can add airport-specific information, for example, runways usage and closure.