Interview with Dr. Emil Kaptur

In the newest release of the Aircraft IT Magazine – Dr.
Emil Kaptur, Head of Research and Development at StorkJet explains how easy and reliable information helps stakeholders to achieve fuel and CO2 reductions.

“Emil Kaptur is Head of Research and Development at StorkJet. He holds a PhD degree in experimental physics and his expertise in big data analysis and machine learning comes from his previous work at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). His adventure in aviation started with working on tail specific performance models for flight path optimization. Currently, he leads a team of machine learning researchers with diverse backgrounds extending StorkJet’s performance models to cover not only inflight performance, but all areas of aircraft operations where fuel can be saved.

Aircraft IT: Your name, your job title and the name of the business?
Dr. Emil Kaptur:  Dr. Emil Kaptur, Head of Research and Development, StorkJet

Aircraft IT: How did StorkJet get started?
At the beginning of StorkJet I was only helping occasionally with my expertise in data analysis and aircraft performance modeling, as I was working as an experimental physicist in the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva.
I decided to join StorkJet full-time when we were awarded European Union research grants to master StorkJet’s technology. StorkJet from the very beginning consisted of a strong analytical team, which, having access to this treasure trove of flight data, started to build a new data-based solution for aviation.

Aircraft IT: What is the attraction of aircraft-related software?
For me personally, an experimental physicist, aircraft-related software incorporates what I am most interested in.
Physics and statistical modeling on big data in real world problems. On a larger scale, the climate crisis is ongoing, but aviation is and, I believe, will be reliant on fossil fuels for quite some time. Even with introduction of sustainable biofuels their cost will be high and better fuel efficiency will lower both costs and reduce the land area used for biofuel crops. A small help can be provided by fuel efficiency and aircraft performance software.With that, airlines can increase efficiency of operations, engage pilots to be more eco-conscious and as a result save fuel and CO₂ emissions.

Aircraft IT: What is the guiding business principle that drives StorkJet?
Our goal is to deliver the most precise and reliable data to our customers.
With that, airlines we work with can focus on areas most important for their operations, where the largest savings are. Very often these are low hanging fruits, however they become visible only if proper software is in place. And the key to estimate precise saving potential is in correct data for analysis and innovative technology. StorkJet’s Data Quality and R&D teams consists of over 50% of our employees. This ensures that our customers get what they need.

Aircraft IT: What has been StorkJet’s greatest technical achievement to date, and why?
EK: Integration of our machine learning, tail-specific aircraft performance models in multiple areas of operations. StorkJet started with machine learning performance models in Aircraft Performance Monitoring software (AdvancedAPM). Based on this experience, over the past three years we started using our tail specific models in various other applications. In flight path optimization we are able to calculate exact penalty (or savings) related to pilots flying with not optimal speeds and altitudes for climb, cruise, and descent.Thanks to that, pilots know not only what was their compliance to airline policy, but also how much fuel, CO₂ and time they can save by flying more efficiently. We are also able to calculate and present to the pilot true optimum speeds and altitudes for a particular aircraft performing the flight. Sometimes optimum cruise speed can differ between two aircraft of the same type by more than 0.01 Mach. We also use our models for calculating the precise savings (or sometimes penalty) of Single Engine Taxi; best take-off and landing configuration of the aircraft; real Cost of Weight for each flight, and many more.

Aircraft IT: What has been StorkJet’s greatest business achievement to date, and why?
EK: While entering the market we had to decide what we want to be the best in and what would be StorkJet’s unique selling proposition. We saw many opportunities for optimization, however the area which was really outdated was the Aircraft Performance Monitoring process. For performance engineers handling APM was and in many cases still is a nightmare. With AdvancedAPM we have revolutionized this market segment and now we can proudly say that StorkJet is the market leader in aircraft performance monitoring.

Aircraft IT: What have been StorkJet’s disappointments and what have you learned from them?
EK: Most disappointments come from flight data. The procedures to download it from the aircraft can be challenging for an airline, especially for older aircraft. This can cause delay in data processing and results availability. In our modern, connected world it is a disappointment that quite often flight data is not transmitted wirelessly. We have learned to support our customers in the process by reporting problems to ensure the delays are minimal. In addition, the quality of recorded data can be poor. Some parameters have very low resolution, while other can give flat-out wrong values.To mitigate these problems we have to perform extensive tests and calibration to ensure best quality of data presented to airlines.

Aircraft IT: In a sentence, how would you summarize what StorkJet does for aviation customers?
EK: We provide easy and reliable information to fuel efficiency departments, performance engineers and pilots on how to fly more efficiently and burn less fuel.

Aircraft IT: What is new on StorkJet’s development horizon?
EK: Right now we are focusing on using our expertise and precise calculation to give pilots in-flight, real-time recommendations that are easy to follow and provide real impact on fuel efficiency for every aspect of the flight, from briefing, flight preparation and departure, through climb, cruise, and descent, to landing and taxi-in. One of the most important aspect of fuel efficiency is pilots’ involvement and we want to improve our current pilot-centric solutions even more.

Aircraft IT: What will be the next big thing in Aviation IT?
EK: I believe that better integration of solutions from specialized vendors will be important. For example, in fuel efficiency it is crucial to provide a single message about what’s efficient to all of the stakeholders: fuel efficiency departments, performance engineers, pilots (both pre-, in-, and post- flight), maintenance, air traffic controllers and policymakers. This is what we already do at StorkJet. Closer integration with flight planning providers, ATM or even FMS would ensure that all information sources for pilots are consistent with each other and that the pilot have a single, definite source of information.

Aircraft IT: What do you want your customers to say about StorkJet?
EK: I would like our customers to say that we listen to their problems and provide solutions and actionable data which helps them make correct decisions, save fuel, and make their work easier.

Aircraft IT: Dr. Emil Kaptur, thank you for your time.

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