HP, PricewaterhouseCoopers To Offer Aviation Industry Services

Hewlett-Packard, PricewaterhouseCoopers unveil plans for Aviation Solution Center, a joint venture that will offer services for aviation industry

Nearly six months after Hewlett-Packard dropped its bid to buy PricewaterhouseCoopers' management consulting services practice, the two companies have teamed up to develop technology and services for the aviation industry. HP and PricewaterhouseCoopers on Tuesday unveiled plans for their Aviation Solution Center, a joint venture that will tap resources from both companies to produce appliances, software, and services for airlines, airports, and related companies.

Whereas IBM Global Services and EDS are the predominant service providers to the travel reservation industry, the Aviation Solution Center will focus more on helping the world's 100 largest airlines and 125 largest airports deliver wireless technology to passengers, travel staff, and flight crew members.

Although PricewaterhouseCoopers doesn't separate the amount of revenue it derives from aviation industry consulting, the firm says its aviation consulting practice has more than 600 consultants working for 23 of the world's top 30 airlines, as well as global aviation network facilities in Chicago, London, and Tokyo.

The Aviation Solution Center already has six offerings on its agenda, which PricewaterhouseCoopers and HP say have the potential to create more than $1 billion in revenue for the venture during the next five years. These proposed offerings include hurdle-free airport, which involves deploying wireless and PDA technology to provide better service to passengers; wireless ramp, for improving the efficiency of baggage handling through wireless technology; connected crew, which involves providing flight and ground crews with information via real-time Web portals; online customer-relationship management, which uses the Web to harness passenger data; and integrated maintenance, repair, and overhaul, which uses the Web and wireless technology to manage aircraft maintenance and repair.

Analysts are skeptical of how well PricewaterhouseCoopers and HP will be able to work together to deliver on their promises for the Aviation Solution Center. The two companies are proposing a comprehensive plan of technology and services for the aviation industry, but potential customers have to ask themselves whether this technology is compatible with what's already in place, says Henry Harteveldt, a senior Forrester Research analyst. "Airports and airlines haven't been sitting on the bench, and many have already begun to configure their infrastructure for wireless."

Harteveldt also questions the compatibility of the companies behind Aviation Solution Center. He points out that customers generally hire PricewaterhouseCoopers for its objective point of view, but they might question how objective the management consulting firm will be if it's working closely with a specific hardware and software vendor.