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How one company is building the future of flight efficiency, after more than a year of uncertainty in the sector.

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For most of us, it has been a long time since we’ve had a bird’s-eye view of the world through an oval-shaped airplane window. And while few industries escaped unscathed from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, global aviation is at the top of the list of those sectors most gravely affected.

The airline industry lost $126.4 billion in 2020 and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is estimating a loss of another $47.7 billion for 2021. While the world cautiously resumes “normal” activities, airlines and analysts have predicted it could take three to five years for the industry to truly recover.

Enter fliteX, an Oshawa-based technology company that has developed solutions to service both airlines and air navigation service providers (ANSPs). Armed with more than 150 years of experience and having worked with airlines and ANSPs around the world, the fliteX executive team recognizes and understands the industry’s pain points and, as Bernard Gonsalves, director and founder says, “Our mission is really to optimize the sky. It’s a fairly lofty pledge to make, but that’s really what our business is about.”


Did you know that subtle changes to flight paths can translate to an airline saving millions of dollars each year? The fliteX team understands this because their business’s mainstay focus is exploring the science of flying and adjusting route networks for flight optimization. But lately their focus has shifted. Cognizant of the fact that airlines needed immediate help to stay afloat, they fast-tracked one of their backburner projects, fliteGAINS, a billing application that can drastically reduce an airline’s costs by reducing their air traffic charges. On the flipside, they also offer an equivalent application for the air traffic agencies themselves to seamlessly collect fees from airlines flying in their spaces.

Their unique solutions are hosted on the cloud as software as a service (SaaS), and their pay-as-you-use format keeps costs minimal. Plus, there’s no need to change the mainframe systems as applications, databases and the complete IT infrastructure are cloud-based, ensuring the system can readily be implemented anywhere in the world.

It’s a step in the right direction because as Gonsalves points out, the technology discrepancy in the aviation world is vast: On one hand, they focus their investments on extremely high-tech airplanes, cockpits, and avionics. But on the other hand, if you were to walk into the backroom offices of most airlines, you would see they are still operating off of legacy mainframe systems. While many industries have transitioned into the age of algorithms and data science, flight operations have been slow to convert.

For reference, The Boeing Company is now 105 years old and reigns as the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jets, but as Gonsalves says, “At some point you’ve saturated all of the opportunity to build better engines, or build more aerodynamic airplanes, and that’s where we get into the second generation of aerospace optimization which is really working with algorithms and mathematics and looking at things that have not been tackled before. We’ve reached the point of saturation in the conventional approach and we’re going towards more of a data science and data development approach using big data, machine learning and so on.”

FliteX knows predictive analytics are key, and they want to bring the global airline industry up to speed so they can reap the benefits of using data to make informed decisions well before the planes take off. “Although we’re based in Ontario we can service any airline, and any air traffic, in any part of the world because of how we’ve structured ourselves,” says Gonsalves. “That’s the big benefit. We’re a Canadian company, but we are able to work for more than 400 airlines and about 80 air traffic agencies worldwide.” 

What began as a small startup is now on the up-and-up. FliteX was chosen by Boeing Horizon X (Boeing’s investment arm) as one of the 2019 top 10 innovative startups in Canada. With recognition like this under their wings, the sky’s hardly the limit for fliteX, who are also in the final stages of a partnership agreement with a Fortune500 company that is sure to take their technology and systems to new heights.

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