UK start-up makes aircraft smarter, safer and greener, thanks to space technology

Photo showing the Satavia team sat at computers round their desks

The Satavia team.
(Credit: Satavia)

In 2010, volcanic ash clouds from Iceland grounded European aviation, stranding millions of passengers and costing the airline industry nearly $5billion over a 5-day period. Every year, environmental factors in the atmosphere, such as dust, air pollution, ice and volcanic ash, accelerates wear of aircraft components and costs the aviation industry billions of pounds in unscheduled maintenance.

Now, Satavia, a space tech start-up at the European Space Agency’s Business Incubation Centre at Harwell (ESA BIC Harwell) is making aircraft smarter, safer and more environmentally friendly, by helping aircraft manufacturers and operators to save millions in unscheduled maintenance every year.

At the ESA BIC Harwell, Satavia is enhancing its cloud-based data analytics platform that combines live ESA satellite earth observation data, with data from numerical weather prediction and live aircraft tracking, to provide environmental exposure monitoring for individual aircraft. Its technology means that aircraft operators can adjust aircraft flight and maintenance plans to minimise unscheduled maintenance, and therefore extend engine lifetime. In fact, Satavia’s technology means that airline operators could achieve up to 3,000 additional flight cycles between maintenance overhauls.

Adam Durant, founder and CEO of Satavia, said: “Making flying smarter not only reduces costs and passenger disruption, it also reduces aircraft emissions which, over time, will have a positive impact on climate change. Being at the ESA BIC Harwell has put Satavia in the perfect position to access the specialist satellite technology and the expertise we needed to enhance our platform and connect with the right audiences and markets.”

Recently, Satavia was ranked in the 2017 Disrupt 100 list compiled by Tällt Ventures, which identifies the businesses with the most potential to influence, change or create new global markets - chosen by leading entrepreneurs, investors and executives from top tech companies, including Uber and Google. Furthermore, the company is now working with a major UK-based original equipment manufacturer to make aircraft engine maintenance planning more predictable.

Sue O’Hare, Operations Manager at the ESA BIC Harwell said: “Satavia is a perfect example of how access to the right technologies, skills and business support can help pioneering start-ups use space technologies to help industries operate more efficiently, protecting our safety and the environment at the same time! This is exactly the kind of thing that STFC and the ESA BIC Harwell set out to help early-stage companies achieve. It’s very exciting to see Satavia generating such high profile recognition of its achievements already.”

Located within the well-established space cluster at the Harwell Campus, the ESA BIC Harwell sits alongside STFC’s RAL Space and the Satellite Applications Catapult. It is also one of a wider European network of 16 successful ESA BICs, and part of ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme. It provides 10 companies a year with an impressive, carefully designed support package lasting between one and two years that enables them to harness space-related intellectual property, technologies and expertise through the provision of £41,500 grant funding, access to STFC’s world-class research facilities and skills, and dedicated business support.

Get involved with the ESA BIC Harwell

Further information and advice about getting involved with the ESA BIC Harwell, and how it could benefit your company, can be found at the ESA BIC Harwell website. Calls for proposals to join the ESA BIC Harwell take place throughout the year, the next deadline for applications closing on 27 October 2017.

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000