PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR EQUALITY, RESEARCH AND INNOVATION €200,000 in research funds from MCST for the development of a tool that analyses flight data to enhance flight safety and efficiency

Following an investment of €200,000 in funds from the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST), a collaboration led by the Institute for Aerospace Technologies and supported by the Department of Communications and Computer Engineering at the University of Malta, and industrial partners QuAero led to the development of a tool by which modern machine learning techniques are adopted to analyse flight data. 


Typically, aircraft data is recorded during flight and then analysed to assess the performance of the aircraft. This innovative tool by the name of Smart FDM (Smart Flight Data Monitoring) allows to compare data from a large aircraft fleet, establish potential anomalies in the data, and trace it to the contributing flight parameters. This data can then be used to improve post monitoring analysis, increase operation efficiency, and enhance safety, resulting in larger commercial return and reducing the impact of the airline's operations on the environment.  


This innovative research has led to the registration of a patent application.


Minister for Equality, Research and Innovation Owen Bonnici attended the event held at the Esplora Interactive Science Centre – an event aimed to promote this innovative research and celebrate the work and results accomplished by the researchers involved. Minister Bonnici praised the valuable work done by the researchers and thanked MCST for supporting such projects and strengthening the R&I pillar in Malta.


“The formation of consortia between the public and the private sectors is crucial for the concretisation of research projects that will eventually lead to innovative solutions, which will ultimately result in economic growth for our country and its people. When knowledge transfer between academic researchers and industrial manufacturing experts takes place, real innovation can happen", said the minister.


In his opening remarks, MCST Executive Chairman Dr Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando said that, “The Malta Council for Science and Technology is committed to cultivating a culture of research and innovation in Malta and that this is primarily achieved through FUSION, the National R&I program. The SmartFDM consortium received approximately €199,700 under this funding program. The success of the consortium is a result of the synergies between the project coordinators and their stakeholders to resolve pressing issues related to aircraft safety and efficiency. It is an excellent example of how research can lead to the creation of innovative products for the common good."


SmartFDM lead investigator Dr Robert Camilleri said that this research aims to widen the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence into the aviation industry. The research has highlighted that this offers benefits in the ability to capture anomalies from aircraft fleet and investigate their origins, thereby enhancing safety and improving the operational aspects of airlines. The team is now in the process to protect their IP and develop a commercial tool.


SmartFDM is financed by the Malta Council for Science and Technology, for and on behalf of the Foundation for Science and Technology, through the FUSION: R&I Technology Development Programme.​​