Microsoft's Azure IoT takes to the skies with Rolls-Royce

Engine maker will use Microsoft's Internet of Things and machine learning services to spot trends and improve aircraft efficiency.

Rolls-Royce will use Microsoft Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite to support current and future generations of its intelligent aircraft engines.

Rolls-Royce engines power more than 50,000 flights around the world each month. The engine maker's TotalCare program allows airlines to pay for the hours they were able to fly rather than for repairs, which means Rolls-Royce has an interest in collecting data that helps airlines improve operations.

Aircraft are a classic example of the industrial internet of things: engines have hundreds of sensors that transmit gigabytes of data for each flight, which adds up to terabytes of data to analyse across an airline's fleet. And there are some big savings to be had, as cutting fuel usage by one percent can lower annual running costs by $250,000 per plane.

Rolls-Royce will use Microsoft's Azure IoT Suite to collect data related to engine health, air traffic control, route restrictions and fuel usage. This data will then be analysed by Microsoft's Cortana Intelligence Suite to spot anomalies and trends. Microsoft said that with better understanding of flight operations, fuel usage and maintenance planning, airlines could potentially save millions of dollars per year.

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