After the global COVID-19 pandemic crises hardest impact on aviation industry, affecting passenger traffic, air cargo demand, airport workforce and incoming revenues, air travel chaos begins to ease, but there are still more trouble on the horizon.
Aviation is a key driver of global economy development, and it is a key component of business worldwide, over a third of all trade by value is sent by air. Air transport generates a total of 13.5 million jobs which contribute round US $ 880 billion a year to world GDP.
On the other side the new age of technology is having its enormous impact on the aviation/airline industry. Emerging technologies are paving the way to exponential growth in a number of industries including the airline industry. New technologies are reshaping aerospace with artificial intelligence, robotics, the internet of things (IoT), aircraft systems and the hybrid and electric airplanes.
The AI technology will impact multiple domains of the aviation sector. AI machine learning, machine vision, robotics and natural language processing are the future of the aviation industry. The pandemic has prompted aviation industry participants to opt for efficient solutions and focus on digital transformation initiatives to enhance the customer experience, streamline processes and lower costs, and to explore the benefits adopting cutting-edge technologies.
AI can be used to assist customers in many ways including check-in requests. AI technologies can be used in checking at the airport and in addition to identifying passengers. Security scanners and biometric identification with AI will make the process of passenger identification faster and easier. Baggage screening is another important task at any airport. AI-based technology is installed at the airports to screen baggage in multiple passenger lanes.
AI tools help aviation industry to increase operational efficiency in customer relationship management with modern technologies, taking a fundamental approach to enhancing the customer feedback, suggestions and AI algorithms to identify real-time customer reaction on social media platforms. The company's AI tools capture the use of related keywords, company's name, competitors name, travel destinations, industry-related topics in social media to track demand factors.
Tracking techniques installed in AI systems, AI-based biometric security systems, facial recognition, fingerprint and retinal scanning already implemented in airlines and airports help determine behavioural changes in passengers using Big data analysis of purchasing history. Companies use AI-based dynamic prising models to optimise ticket prices based on statistics on passenger travel.
Airline industry has started realising also the potential of blockchain technology in various aspects to improve operational efficiencies, security systems and even customer experiences by saving passengers data maintained in a virtual de-centralized database, which can be accessed by relevant people. …....(? ) Blockchain can be extremely useful in building a robust security system for managing customer data.
International airports Beacons technology is making navigation easy for travellers between different terminals at the airport, and these updates can be about boarding gate number, baggage carousel, flight status, or also about the shops and eateries around. The airline industry is also using robotics in assisting customer management, baggage handling, car parking etc.
The KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has introduced socially aware 'Spencer Robot' last year. This robot has been equipped with the capability to deal with social situations between people and can see, analyse, distinguish people between individuals and groups nearby with his sensors, also learning and complying with social rules and ultimately acting in human friendly way.
Biometrics technology at airlines and airport aim at creating a seamless and secure air travel process. Air New Zealand has launched a biometric-enabled bag drop to speed-up the check-in process. Delta Airlines launched the world's first self-service biometric-enabled baggage drop to free up more Delta people to deal with customers.
Internet of things (IoT)....it is likely that all 'things' on board will be connected and the health of everything from engine performance to the in-flight entertainment system (IFE) will be monitored in real time.
Sensors to aircraft seats will enable the crew to monitor individual passenger and proactively respond to their needs and sensors which will automatically detect and report faults.
Virgin Airlines have implemented IoT in its Boeing 787, where every single element on the plane is attached to a wireless aeroplane network, providing real-time IoT data. So, everything is transparent, monitored, tracked, controlled...the passengers, airports, airlines, aircraft and flying crew. United Airlines uses a smart “collect, detect, act” system.
NASA and some airlines have built an automated system capable of using vast data to warn about anomalies and to prevent potential accident by using machine learning algorithms. AI will be able to use algorithms to predict flight delays and faults with airplanes. Artificial intelligence is also being applied in the sector of maintenance, flight engineers and pilots ( flight engineers role has been replaced largely by computerized engine systems). Any malfunction, abnormality or emergency is displayed on electronic display panel, and computer automatically initiates corrective action about abnormal condition.
Air traffic control..... AI can be used to deliver clear views of the airport to traffic controllers. Some airports have installed ultra-high-definition cameras with air technology on top of the towers. Using cameras and 3D sensors smart airport technologies are capable of monitoring airport traffic. AI can lend support addressing all phases of flight – improving strategic planing, enhancing trajectory prediction, enabling higher automation in aviation traffic control, and increasing the operational efficiency of air traffic control.
These air platforms utilise machine learning to interpret images, record aircraft and notify controllers, so that they can signal the next plane for arrival on the cleared runway. Machine learning is not meant to replace human air traffic controllers, instead it aims to automate repetitive, predictive tasks to free up human employers to focus on more complex and important tasks. The air traffic controllers are still making a lot of manual input to keep the system data correct.
Can the pilot be replaced?
AI technology, hands-on piloting by human pilots might be reduced, human pilots still maintain their skills in the cockpit monitoring the systems. Advances in sensor technology, computing and artificial intelligence are making human pilots less necessary than ever in the cockpit. Experts say, robots could replace co-pilots on commercial jets.
The impact of computer technology on commercial aviation is more apparent in cockpit of modern jet liner. Different computer systems are responsible for technologically efficient flying and among the most important of these are the display-management computers which control the instrument panel in the cockpit. In overall command are twin flight-management computers, one of each serves as back up to the other.
Before take-off the two man crew uses either keyboard to enter the flight plan-altitudes, speeds and intermediate destinations simultaneously into both computers, the information is displayed on a small screen above each keyboard. The computers take over guiding the aircraft constantly checking on its many complex systems and feeding data to subsidiary computers.
The two side sticks in pilot's cabin are managed by another computer, stick movements are translated into electrical signals and before the signals are relayed to control surfaces on the wings and tail, they pass through the fly-by-wire computer which moderate the most extreme gestures. Computers have proved to be such excellent assistants on the flight deck that they made possible to be flown by a crew of two instead of three, as required before.
An airplane builders have taken the step forward the fully computerized airliner, by installing fly-by-wire control. In this system digital signals instead of mechanical or hydraulic links transmit movements of the pilot's hands and feet to the aircraft's various control surfaces. A system called the Flight Management Computer Systems keeps track of every aspect of an airplane performance. The autopilot and auto throttle systems have joined the ranks of microprocessor-based systems for commercial aircraft.
The artificial intelligence could provide opportunities in aircraft design and operation, AI and more specifically the machine learning (ML) is bringing an enormous potential by developing applications. Deep learning (DL) brings a wide range of applications that could benefit aviation, in particular computer vision and natural language processing.
In aviation these types of applications could bring the solutions such as high-resolution camera-based traffic detection, or virtual assist to the pilot.
The most important application of ML is autonomous flight. Autonomous vehicles will inevitably rely on systems to enable complex decisions to ensure the safe flight and landing. AI will enable full autonomy and very powerful algorithms will be necessary to cope with huge amount of data generated by the sensors and by the machine-to-machine communications. Computer vision and machine learning technologies based on AI are critical to enabling self-piloted commercial aircraft to take off and land, and to navigate and detect ground obstacles autonomously.
The AI is used in production of more and more sophisticated military drones and unfortunately the killer drones. Unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) are used for ground attacks managed by remote pilots, which in the future are intended to have full autonomy. Advances in AI technologies will allow for enhanced autonomy and redundancy among future military unmanned platforms.
Many explosive payloads were delivered to targets by such aircraft that flew hundreds of kilometres in missions during the Gulf War. US UAV struck infrastructure sites reportedly belonging to Iranian-backed militias, and also the infrastructure in other Middle East countries, killing many civilians. The aviation industry commercial and defence.. is experiencing a data tsunami that is fundamentally changing flight operations, technical operations and customer engagement.
Data works to deliver efficiency and drive profits. But even modern systems fail to fully protect data integrity within and across aviation organizations preserving, instead only the minimum data necessary for a particular process or output. The world's leading airlines have already invested in AI applications to identify trends and draw insights from data inputs to make better decisions in customer relationship management, airline operations management, autonomous machines and processes, fraud detection and security management.
Application of AI to the European Authority for Aviation Safety (EASA) data project and machine learning could provide solutions to deal with large sources of operational data, safety reports, weather and traffic data. With AI the system improves its effectiveness, but also encompass a kind of vulnerabilities to cyberattacks.
The most promising technologies are electric aircraft propulsion. Various of categories of hybrid-electric aircraft propulsion exist, which use liquid fuel as a primary source, and several electrically powered general aviation aircraft types are already in operation. Advances in aircraft systems can reduce fuel consumption considerably in currant aircraft configuration and have further development potential to achieve a net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Supersonic aircraft and electric aircraft could be the fastest all-electric plane in history. Sceptics voice doubt over new age of supersonic air travel. There are the challenges to overcome before supersonic aircraft can be commercially viable around the world, both with the emissions and the economics. In near future aircraft could have transparent ceilings, virtual reality spaces and run of bio fuels. Space perspective is set to revolutionise Space tourism by the incredible triple decker Sky Whale airliner that could carry 755 passengers, one of the largest passenger planes ever built with all high tech benefits on board.
A number of aerospace companies have 3D printed satellites, rockets spacecraft and other components. Beside US, China and Russia in addition to manufacturing of the most modern technology drones Turkey's defence industry into the space domain has a plan to produce and launch a rocket that can reach the moon by 2030. US based Space X is currently responsible for the launch of Turkish satellites. Turkey is also collaborating with Russia and had a direct communication with Elon Musk for future cooperation.
Aviation has always been a high-tech industry and continuous progress in the development of new technologies is vital for sustainability growth at the aviation industry. New aero dynamic technology, new engine architecture and aircraft systems are foreseen in the Aircraft Technology Roadmap to 2050. Technological innovations are changing the face of the airline industry for good.