Aerospace and Aviation safety has been high on the agenda following the tragic recent Boeing 737 Max crashes that killed over 300 people. After Australian provider Qantas found cracks on the pickle fork of a 737 Next Generation, airlines and manufacturers are on high alert.
Following the official ‘safest year in Aviation history’ in 2017, the sector has reached a peak in standards and measures, and must use new technologies and insights to create safety innovation.
Airports are already adopting autonomous and artificial intelligence-based systems to address customer experience; the same technology could be used to set and maintain high levels of security. Facial recognition software aims to increase the accuracy of screening, and machine learning will help analyse passenger behaviour to assist airlines in predicting customer trends and designing safer airports and planes.
Aerospace technology could also transform training programmes for employees across functions. New aircraft maintenance training for engineers can provide artificial views inside jet engines to examine individual parts, empowering technicians to spot miniscule faults and placing on-the-ground experts at the heart of Aviation safety.
Passengers around the world are increasingly favouring long-haul flights to accommodate their fast-paced lifestyles and increased travel options in globalised societies, which could prove problematic for airlines when combined with the heightening lack of skills entering the workforce. Amidst the global pilot shortage – Boeing forecasts global demand to double over the next 20 years, reaching a requirement of 800,000 new pilots by 2037 – the sector could save $30billion by turning from pilot-controlled structures to autonomous planes.
Autonomous aircraft could solve the problem of long-haul flights by eliminating the causes of human error: tiredness, illness or deliberation under pressure. This new technology could see single-pilot planes, with one human working alongside a computer, or fully automated airplanes taking further single-flight journeys across the world and revolutionising customer experience and the travel industry.
The Aviation industry currently accounts for around 2% of the world’s emissions, with one flight producing more CO2 than the average person produces in one year, and ever-increasing demand for business and leisure travel means the sector is set to be one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions in the next two decades. In the UK, Tim Johnson, Director of the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) Director, recently sent a letter to the Government, calling for officials to prioritise the global climate emergency over airport expansion for the near future. How can aircraft manufacturers address the critical issue of climate change?
Whilst many airlines like British Airways are committing to offsetting greenhouse gases and discussing eco-investments, getting to the heart of aircraft structure could solve the environmental challenge of plane design.
After displaying their new model at the Paris Air Show in June 2019, Eviation are set to launch ‘Alice’, the first all-electric aircraft, in America in 2020. The green plane will feature:
· Efficient power – Run by a combination of battery and propellers
· Reduced noise pollution
· Aerodynamic flight and fast speeds across 1,000km distances
· Comfort, style and efficiency.
Industry giants like Airbus and Boeing are also heavily investing in the possibilities of green aircraft for the next five years.
Air traffic growth will jump to 4.3% in the next ten years, meaning manufacturers will be required to innovate fast to solve fleet expansion challenges. Mumbai’s airport has now officially reached its maximum passenger handling capacity, and airport systems worldwide including London are predicted to be entirely full by 2030.
Last year’s Emirates order of the Airbus A380, and the commitment at this year’s MRO Europe show from Collins Aerospace Systems and Lufthansa Technik, look to invest years into enhancing airport capacity around the world. With their double-deck, wide-body jet airliner, the Airbus A380 is the planet’s biggest commercial plane with space for over 800 passengers. Electric and autonomous planes with lightweight materials and more space for passengers will also help the sector adjust to increase customer demand and maximise the volume, safety and efficiency of flight.
To match the rapidly evolving scope of technology, manufacturers and MROs will need to rapidly upskill their engineers and technicians and review their recruitment strategies to attract the diverse talent pools who will build and maintain the next generation of aircraft.
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