The global economy is becoming increasingly connected. One of the contributing factors is the rapid growth of the aviation industry and technological innovations. Airlines and airports around the world have been directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as millions of travelers canceled flights and governments imposed travel restrictions.
Although the lingering effects of the pandemic linger, the aviation industry is investing in various digital technologies to support recovery, improve passenger experience and improve business performance.
Here are seven rising tech trends in aviation to keep in mind as the industry returns to pre-pandemic levels.
More businesses are leveraging smart technologies to improve their operations, and airports are no exception. The demand for air travel has increased dramatically, meaning millions of people are transiting through airports around the world. They can use the latest digital technologies to better manage growing numbers of passengers and streamline operations.
Many airports are modernizing their operations due to the pandemic. Most now have automated kiosks to speed up the passenger check-in process.
Deloitte suggests that the Internet of Things (IoT) could transform the passenger experience and generate more airport revenue. It’s only a matter of time before the majority of the world’s airports are considered smart.
The climate crisis is becoming a major concern for big business, consumers and governments. In the United States, it is reported that about 29% of total greenhouse gases (GHG) come solely from transport. Sustainability is a key goal for many companies operating in the aviation industry.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and its members are committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. the means by which they will achieve this ambitious goal:
- Use sustainable aviation fuel made from renewable biomass
- Carbon Offset
- Use carbon capture technologies
Airlines and airports will focus on sustainability this year – for example, airports can implement paperless processes or use natural lighting. Additionally, the aviation industry as a whole can adopt renewable energy technologies for ground operations.
At some airports in the United States, passengers can bypass the standard TSA security line by using self-service kiosks called Clear Plus. They are owned by Clear Secure Inc., an identification services company. These kiosks carry out biometric checks to verify identity – in simple terms, the camera scans the irises and the face.
The technology transforms biometric data into encrypted code. Each time the passenger checks in for a flight at an airport with Clear Plus, the technology scans their iris and face and matches it to their unique encrypted code. The aviation industry and passengers will greatly benefit from this type of biometric technology.
Most industries are investing in or experimenting with blockchain technology, and aviation is no different. One of the main use cases for blockchain in aviation is in aircraft manufacturing.
boeing recently partnered with Honeywell Aerospace so he can use the company’s blockchain technology-based platform called GoDirect. Boeing can track and sell about $1 billion in additional aircraft parts with this platform. This is a major milestone for the industry, which typically uses paper certificates to conduct sales of individual aircraft parts.
Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence (AI) that can predict outcomes without being explicitly programmed to do so. Many industries are already using ML, from marketing and retail to manufacturing and construction. The aviation industry can benefit from ML in several ways.
For example, Seattle-Tacoma Airport (SEA) uses computer vision (CV) technology, which is considered ML, to monitor ground operations activities in and around a parked aircraft as it found at a door. More use cases for ML will emerge as companies invest in this evolving technology.
Modern consumers are increasingly dependent on portable devices, primarily smartphones and tablets. Airline passengers now expect commercial flights to offer decent internet connectivity, in-flight entertainment systems, interactive maps and USB charging stations.
While seat back entertainment systems were once popular with most airlines, they are being phased out as they are expensive to maintain. Some airlines will offer free Wi-Fi for their passengers, but this is not very common and is usually only available for a limited time.
Another technology trend that is expected to continue is that of autonomous vehicles (AV) or robots. Audio-Visual Vehicles and Autonomous Delivery Robots (ADR) are emerging in various industries including logistics and shipping. For example, Amazon, Uber Eats, Domino’s, and FedEx are experimenting with ADRs for last mile and food delivery.
There are many ways ADR or AV could have a positive impact on aviation. Passengers waiting for their flight could place a contactless order via their smartphone and request an ADR to deliver a hot meal to their gate.
A self-contained luggage cart at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport can handle 450 bags per hour. At Fagernes Airport, an automated snow removal machine can clear hundreds of thousands of square feet of snow in an hour, easing people’s workload and creating safer flying conditions.
All of these technology trends will impact the future of the aviation industry. As new technologies emerge, it’s only a matter of time before airports and airlines adopt them to improve their operations and enhance the passenger experience.
Over the next decade, passengers should expect to see exciting innovations in aviation. There will likely be changes to customer service and other essential airport operations. It will be interesting to see how the sector adopts the latest technologies to facilitate air travel for its customers.
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Last updated August 12, 2022.