How New Technology Will Impact Airlines This Decade

Airlines and Technology

Once the pandemic comes to an end, airlines will continue their search for ways to adapt to changes in the industry. As always, new technologies are the best way for companies to remain ahead of the competition and negate any future disruption which may occur during the next decade.

Towards the end of 2019, there were a slew of technological breakthroughs to assist aviation markets. One key segment companies have been looking to innovate is jet fuel. The carbon footprint involved with sourcing and using jet fuel has led to a global call for the revision of its role in flying.

Progress In Place

During the summer of 2019, British Airways launched an initiative to create jet fuel from household waste. BA ’s parent company, International Airlines Group, is investing $400 million in sustainable fuel development over the next two decades. In addition, the company is planning to build Europe’s first commercial waste fuel plant in the U.K.

Other fuel proposals will also come into play, such as one method known as emissions recycling. This is being experimented with by companies such as SkyNRG, an engineering firm working with Rotterdam Airport to offer the world’s first commercial production of jet fuel made with carbon emissions. The partnership aims to launch the project by 2021, which may pave the way for others to follow.

Pressure To Change

Influence from many sides may force the industry to make a change. The fluctuating cost of oil, coupled with consumer awareness of the environmental impact, make the search for alternative fuels a viable strategy for both future cost savings and customer retention.

Similarly, governments will also experience pressure to enforce sustainable air travel. The United Kingdom recently announced plans to invest 300 million pounds to develop greener modes of air travel. A major aspect of their plan includes the expanded production of electronics. This consists of small drones, urban air taxis, larger electric passenger aircraft and freight drones.
Additionally, there have been recent revolutions in the aircraft taxi. Air India recently unveiled its first semi-autonomous tug to pull aircraft onto the runway called Taxibot.
British Airways has introduced Mototok, a similar vehicle that operates via remote control. These devices help to save the use of aircraft fuel while taxiing and also helps during pushbacks.

Automated Assistance

Artificial intelligence is another area of technology that is set to receive more attention this year as airports are already implementing the technology to assist passengers on their journey. SITA Lab has introduced KATE, a check-in kiosk that will automatically move to more busy areas at the airport when necessary. Your Autonomous Pony Express (YAPE) has been tested at Frankfurt Airport, helping customers with their luggage. These models can carry bags of up to 30 kg while traveling at 6 km per hour.
 
KLM has also confirmed its interest in pursuing AI technology over the next decade. The Dutch flag carrier recently introduced its Blue Bot (BB) self-learning system. This program helps customers book airline tickets and handles customer service inquiries. Overall, customer service inquiries will be increasingly digitised over the next 10 years.

Biometric Boom

Several airlines have implemented biometric boarding to help save time and money when boarding passengers. American Airlines and Emirates have both implemented this process for some of its services, with great success.

Also in this realm, Delta Air Lines continues to expand its use of facial recognition technology. In February of 2019, Lufthansa introduced biometric boarding from Miami to Munich. The German carrier stated that it had taken just 20 minutes to board all 350 passengers onto their Airbus A380. This is an incredible achievement and something that many airlines hope will become the norm in the near future. Although boarding passes and visa programs are increasingly digitised, analysts predict passports may have a similar fate in certain circumstances.

Smarter Systems

The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to revolutionize the way in which airlines operate over the next few years. IoT consists of everyday objects that have the ability to connect with one another. This enables data sharing capability, allowing systems to run smarter and safer.

Airbus has begun in-flight testing of its A350s with IoT cabin connection technology. This test includes an iSeat prototype, which is an intelligent passenger seat. This product would operate in tandem with a connected galley and a wireless cabin management system.

This is the beginning of a new wave of airline connectivity that aims to generate more revenue for carriers. As ads become more personalized, income generation can be simplified

Greater Connectivity

As well as improvements from IoT, air traffic control will similarly benefit from increased connectivity. Last year, the European Space Agency (ESA) collaborated with Inmarsat to launch Iris, an air traffic system that will use Inmarsat ‘s extensive satellite network to allow four-dimensional air traffic management. The program seeks to build a high-bandwidth, cost-effective data link across Europe. Set to be implemented by 2022, it will likely redesign the way air traffic is handled in the region.

Overall, airlines continue to improve connectivity to meet industry requirements. By the end of this decade, it won’t come as a surprise to have all major commercial operations offering in-flight WiFi as standard.

Room For Development

With a reliance on mobile devices growing amongst customers, future wireless technology will concentrate more on in-flight entertainment. By the time the ’20s are in full swing, full-service airlines may focus on providing entertainment primarily to these devices rather than continuing with behind-the-seat screens. This saves on the weight, and therefore the cost, of the aircraft. Don’t expect to see this change on your transatlantic flight or on some of the well-respected airlines such as Singapore Airlines or Emirates, thought this is likely to happen on shorter routes with smaller aircraft.

As we head into 2020, there is a lot of room for new technology to grow within the aviation industry. Ultimately, airlines will be do their utmost to save on costs while providing the greatest service for their passengers.

Share Post

Related Posts