The aviation industry is going through a turbulent time. Small-scale or challenger airlines are going bust, while larger airlines struggle to deal with rising fuel costs. We’ve seen many budget airlines collapse over the last three years, because all their business models operate on a race-to-the-bottom mentality.
A more long-term and sustainable mindset would benefit the industry, as this would focus on providing quality to customers, drawing them in through benefits other than the lowest price.
Today, over 4 billion people fly every year, and that number is only going to rise as air travel becomes more accessible to people in growing economies. There may be demand for as many as 40,000 new planes over the next two decades.
New technology can help start up airlines as well as established industry giants attract more customers, make cost reductions, and survive into the next decade while competitors go bust.
It’s now easier than ever for airlines to communicate with their customers. Whether this is through email, social media, or an actual conversation between two people, airlines can and should communicate with their customers, whether it is to deliver an update about their service or bad news.
Engaging with customers on social media will allow airlines more control over their brand perception, and can help them deal with unhappy customers before they leave negative reviews.
Leading on from this, new technology can make all businesses more efficient, streamlined, and agile. Many airlines now have their own apps, through which their customers have complete control over their entire journey. This in turn allows the airline to more effectively communicate with their customers through a channel they run, and can make changes to based on feedback and new research.
New technology can allow for delivery of online content to passengers, giving them entertainment during the flight. Many top airlines now have their own media services on board their flights, and update them with new movies, shows music, audiobooks, and online newspapers. This helps passengers relax during their journey, but also adds value for when they return as there is always something new.
Behind the scenes, machine learning, AI, and data analytics can help airlines identify areas their business can be improved. Every area a customer interacts with the business is a point where data can be captured. That data can then be analysed and improved, which will ultimately translate to a stronger bottom line.
Here’s just one example: flight delays are one of the most annoying elements of flying for passengers. It also results in reduced profits for the airline – an idle plane costs the operator around $80 a minute. AI can cut down on these delays, thanks to the vast amount of data generated across an airline. This data can be analysed, and slow points in the process can be streamlined.
Human analysts simply wouldn’t be able to analyse such vast quantities of data to the same extent an AI system would be able to.
Any business should prioritise efficiency, and AI can help aviation make the service more enjoyable and seamless for customers.
New technology is creating new technologies that allow for lighter, faster, more energy-efficient planes.
3D printing could revolutionise the aviation industry, making it more energy efficient. This is one of main costs of operating an airline, and once additional budget is freed up it can be applied to other areas. A reduction of just 1% of the total fuel cost of the global fleet would result in billions of dollars of savings.
While most people link blockchain to cryptocurrency, the technology actually has a wide range of potential applications.
Blockchain can increase operational efficiency by around 4% annually, and could cut MRO (maintenance, repair, and overhaul) costs by up to 5%. For an industry as big as aviation, that’s a huge amount of money.
Blockchain can be used to create a digital twin of an aircraft. Many companies still keep physical logs of written reports of a plane’s overall condition, or if they are digitised they are kept in disparate systems and accounts. Blockchain can keep all data secure, and in one place. The ledger could be continually updated as improvements or repairs are made, reducing the overall time that needs to be spent on inspection.
It would also allow for proactive repairs, instead of reactive repairs. Solving issues before they become problems would save money and time for any airline.
For more advice on the aviation industry, check out our post on what Boeing should do in the wake of the 737 Max scandal, or how the aviation industry can tackle the skills shortage.