Technology Trends reshaping aviation 2021

Technology is a gamechanger, a disruptor and plays a pivotal role in transforming industries. Aviation is no stranger to technology, but with the restrictions posed by COVID-19, the pace at which the industry adopts technology is likely to quicken. In the second part of our series on trends shaping aviation in a COVID world, we look at how airports and airlines will use technology to address current challenges.


Automation and integration have become par for the course in aviation’s quest for greater efficiency, safety and performance. Now, there is a growing interest in how big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain – technologies that have become buzzwords in other industries – can help aviation players recover.

1. Big data gaining attention
Information is the oil of the 21st century as the saying goes. Whether it is collecting thousands of flight parameters per light, or flight bookings per day or passengers per day in an airport, it is big data to the rescue. In the wake of COVID-19, this trend will be explored further.

2. AI in the sky
Artificial Intelligence has breached the adoption barrier in aviation. An AI machine ingests and processes gigantic volumes of data (big data) to provide pointers for improving aviation across avenues. Huge amounts of historical data are mined to support human operators on the ground or in the cockpit to make the best possible decisions. Some of the examples include flight ticket pricing, passenger identification, predictive maintenance, Flight route optimization, baggage screening, improved training for crew, etc

3. Smart Airports
A contactless experience from check-in to gate could work wonders to normalize air travel. Companies that were once reluctant to invest in innovation have now turned into flag bearers of R&D, with new ideas or automated services. Every other day, some part of the aviation industry is breaking new ground – from pandemic sniffer dogs to detect coronavirus at airports to VR entertainment in airlines.

4. I have an app for that
At times like this, when travel guidelines are changing every other day, it is imperative to stay vigilant of the rules at your source and destination airports and apps are one way of achieving this. Airlines and airports are moving away from the traditional approach to check-in etc. towards apps to limit contact and improve the passenger experience

5. Blockchain for payments
There has been a lot of noise lately regarding the blockchain, which digitizes money in a secure way. Though blockchain is taking its baby steps in the field of aviation, it is expected to transform financial payments and business models in airports and airlines through a smoother payment processes, reduced dependency on third parties and so on.

6. Smart ATC
Air traffic control is leaning towards an ICWP (integrated controller work position) form of control. ICWP provides an overview of the impending air and ground surveillance data, status of visual and navigational aids, weather and stand occupancy at one glance. Moreover, it allows the controller to access the safety nets and provide commands accordingly. These smart user interfaces coupled with AI and digital towers would drastically lighten the controller’s workload and allow them to focus on safety and efficiency.

7. Collaborative decision making is crucial
Airports collaborative decision making (A-CDM) between airports, ATC and airlines is crucial in order to avoid flight delays, especially when the industry is incurring losses in billions of dollars. The concept has been adopted at a few airports across the world and some drastic improvements have been observed, which paves the way for more airports and airlines to implement the same and enhance their turnover.

8. Digitization of project management
At any given point in time, airports and airlines are executing new or refurbishment projects in the background. Project management is getting its share of digital transformation – some of the processes from requirements definition to user acceptance are being automated to enable better monitoring and control.

9. Technology in maintenance and certification
Aircraft and airport maintenance constitute more thana third of the operating costs. With thousands of fleet grounded across the world, these maintenance processes need to be streamlined. Thanks to big data and AI, by comparing the existing maintenance procedures with the failure rate, the industry is focusing on reducing indirect maintenance costs and direct maintenance costs. Similarly, certification procedures for systems being deployed on ground or air, are being updated to be in line with the advancements in technology such as AI, block chain and other forms of digital transformation.

10. Coloring the sky green
Sustainability is clearly an action item in the climate change discussions, since aviation is heavily implicated in its use of fossil fuel, and the resulting environmental impact. The pandemic has propelled this agenda forward – many aircraft manufacturers have embarked on their electrification journey. While airlines are promoting the concept by reducing plastic, airports are doing their part to reduce waste consumption and using  renewable energy sources e.g. installing solar panels on the roof.

 

If you can think of other interesting ways technology is reshaping our industry, drop me line at [email protected]

Have you read the first part of this two-part series about aviation trends in COVID times? Trends that are shaping our industry in 2021

ADB SAFEGATE provides integrated solutions that raise efficiency, improve safety, boost environmental sustainability and reduce operational costs for airports, airlines and ANSPs. The company works with airports and airlines to solve operational bottlenecks from approach to departure. Solutions encompass airfield lighting, tower-based traffic control systems, intelligent docking automation and services, as well as applying advanced IT and analytics to deliver industry-leading Total Airport Management. For more information about ADB SAFEGATE, please visit our website at adbsafegate.com.

Lakshmi Shree VIJAYAKUMAR
Validation and Commissioning Manager UAE - Abu Dhabi