Airline Dashboards and especially their design is a complex endeavour.

Thankfully, many airline KPI dashboard solutions —as for example the A:Wall— usually offer the possibility, to tailor and customize the visualization.

Choosing required KPIs, picking the most appealing visualization forms (widgets) and combining everything in several workspaces.

The possibilities are limitless — so is the source for mistakes.

However, there are best practices to configure an airline operations dashboard that – with each individual workspace – conveys information exactly to the point.

This guide explains the essential steps to the highly informative dashboard and workspace design.

Strategic Airline Operations Dashboard

In a strategic workspace, KPIs usually measure a company’s performance.

It’S ideal for Executives – They aim to see the company goals being fulfilled. Therefore, they look at topics from a strategic perspective.

Our best-practices:

  • For each corporate goal, a few key KPIs are displayed, visualizing the current level of target achievement.
  • Performance indices that combine multiple KPIs into a single metric are ideal for strategic workspaces.
  • Strategic workspaces thrive on status lighting. It can be calculated against a target value, the value on a reference date or depending on the value’s current trend.
  • Ex-post data in a long-term period (one quarter to one year) are considered.

Our recommendation for strategic workspaces is to use benchmark views:

airline dashboard design

Within a benchmark view multiple business units, traffic areas, or similar are compared under the same considerations.

The above shown Operations Benchmark, for example, is designed to display six key KPIs of airline operations for two separate traffic areas (row 1 and 2) and for the total of all flights performed (row 3).

airline dashboard design

Another way to configure a benchmark is used within this Twitter Benchmark. 

Here, the airlines are not applied to the rows, but instead to the columns. Accordingly, they are compared with each other with a view to only three KPIs. 


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Tactical Airline Operations Dashboard Design

In a tactical workspace, KPIs display detailed analysis.

As the name suggests tactical goals, i.e. business unit-specific and medium-term goals are considered.

Ideal for Mid-level management – They are responsible for tactical, i.e. medium-term objectives in their field. They are looking for trends and predictions to make well-founded decisions.

Our best-practices:

  • Each workspace examines an aspect that needs to be optimized to achieve at least one of the goals tracked within the channel.
  • In this way, the audience receives indications of where something needs to be changed in order to excel.
  • Tactical workspaces consider ex-post data in a medium-term period (typically a month to a quarter); real-time data can be used in addition to get insights into details.

Our recommendation for tactical workspaces is to use KPI breakdown views.

airline dashboard design

A KPI breakdown starts with typically three KPIs on the left side.

To the right, a more detailed view on the same KPIs broken down into subcategories (e.g. in a bubble type), locations or timelines shows causes and potential for improvement.

The Twitter Topic Analysis, for example, evaluates the success of the different topics an airline is tweeting about.

Operations Airline Operations Dashboard Design

An operational workspace displays KPIs and operational details for monitoring.

Ideal for Junior management and business departments – They want to be able to avoid operational problems proactively or at least know them and be able to react to them immediately.

Best-practices:

  • Even more than strategic workspaces, they thrive on status lighting which serves as exception alert.
  • The focus is on real-time data, which is put into context by ex-post information within 24 hours.

Our recommendation for operational workspaces is to use Summary/Detail-Pattern, In/Out-Pattern:

airline dashboard design

The Summary/Detail-Pattern provides a detailed overview of the operational situation using large specialized widgets (e.g. flight map, airport map or misconnex widget) next to a few KPIs that sum up the current situation.

The Airport Operations workspace is a perfect example, focusing on runway, gate and position capacities as well as ground ops punctuality per aircraft at one particular airport.

What comes in always has an effect on what should go out.

Therefore, when looking at an airport, arrival-related data is typically displayed on the left side of the workspace and thus clearly separated from departure-related data (on the right side).

The effect is that a decline in arrival punctuality spreads across the workspace like a forest fire – if operations control doesn’t interfere.

The Hub Performance workspace combines this In/Out-Pattern with Summary/Details-Pattern.

Promotional Airline Operations Dashboards

Promotional workspaces are used to either provide information to customers or to strengthen the brand with well-chosen marketing figures.

Ideal for Public areas – Here, relevant information should be provided to customers. Besides the companies reputation and brand should be strengthened, thus creating a promotional effect.

Best-practices:

  • Status lights are hardly used within promotional workspaces, for they could result in negative customer reaction.
  • As in operational workspaces, the focus is on real-time data that might be put into context by ex-post information within 24 hours.
  • Besides, master data can be used effectively – e.g. details on the aircraft that will be used for an upcoming flight.

Our recommendation for promotional workspaces is to use  Summary/Detail-Pattern

Also in public areas, the Summary/Detail-Pattern provides a lot of details next to few, well-chosen KPIs.

The Public Area Twitter Monitor uses the principle to display current airline-related tweets on a large twitter timeline and adds some well-chosen marketing KPIs below. 

Status lights, however, are not used.

Special Tips

  • Feel free to combine different workspace types in one channel, e.g. you could enrich a mostly tactical channel with a strategic benchmark.
  • Don’t overload a workspace. Especially non-strategic workspaces should focus on one goal, topic or object to make information easily accessible and correlations recognizable.
  • Always reuse the same color for the same value, e.g. use red for all aircraft-related delay and change reason codes.
  • Use target- or trend-driven status lights to increase awareness and to guide focus.
  • Keep in mind the overall runtime of the channel. In most cases, a channel with four to eight workspaces is ideal. 
  • If still more workspaces are needed, respecify the topic of the channel; perhaps, it can be divided into two channels and thus also two displays.

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CEO

Benjamin is an aviation-enthusiast, a music-maniac, and CEO of Information Design (in this order). His daily business revolves around pioneering solutions with the aim to change the aviation industry. His visions are based on expertise gained in more than 15 years in the industry, and working with renowned airlines such as Lufthansa, Emirates, Air India, Aegean Airlines, Saudia Airlines, S7, Icelandair and many others.