Digital transformation of processes within the airline industry tackles multiple challenges at once and is going to be a major sector goal for 2022. For starters, automating daily processes can significantly reduce costs and manual labour in the long run. In 2022, numerous types of aviation software target specific processes such as invoicing, slot requesting, cabin crew training or navigation routes, and many more task-specific software applications are being developed. However, another impending challenge that digital transformation targets has to do with aviation’s global sustainability goals. Many flight planning apps or Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) can now produce real-time tracking of fuel consumption and CO2 footprint and provide improvement suggestions.
Working in a bespoke software development company that specialises in aviation software solutions motivates me to think about the global impact technological advancements have on the aviation industry. For more than ten years now, Dreamix has partnered with a unicorn private aviation company to improve their daily processes such as invoice handling, flight data handling and airport slot requests. By all means, automating day-to-day operations can save airline companies lots of financial resources, boost effective communication and support digital upskilling programmes.
Let’s see some vital automation areas that can be successfully addressed with aviation software solutions.
The Future of Aviation is Digital
Can you imagine just how many experts are working on a daily basis in airline companies and at airports? A simple Google search claims that in 2020 the aviation sector had more than 87 million employees. Plus, according to Statista, despite all recent Covid-related restrictions and aircraft groundings, the revenue of commercial airlines worldwide is estimated to be 373 billion USD. All this doesn’t even add aviation fuel distributors, manufacturers of aircraft parts, as well as in companies dealing with digitisation of the sector. Now imagine the scale of digital upskilling required for sector employees to readapt to the new digital environment.
Nevertheless, technology makes modern aviation safe and predictable, that is why international aviation agencies and private companies constantly seek ways to innovate the sector. From procedural actions that require the use of reliable flight planning apps and air traffic/ slot management to the development and implementation of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning within aviation software solutions. We are all aware that airlines are essential for cargo and passenger transportation and given the sector dynamics and its economic importance, it is easy to understand the value of innovations here. However, digitisation of daily processes offers not only new opportunities but also poses the industry with new challenges such as the need for digital upskilling within the industry.
Aviation-Security and Passenger Experience
Ever since the September 11 attacks, aviation-security has been a hot topic for many debates. Oftentimes, technology is a primary choice for decision-makers to solve most security challenges. In 2022, numerous tech advancements such as X-Rays, screening devices, flight planning apps or AI-driven technologies are used daily by airline companies. For example, many airports have begun thinking about the concept of digital airports. The idea is that the future of airports will be all-digital and contactless thanks to the implementation of specifically designed aviation software, which will provide passengers with a seamless and more satisfactory flying experience.
How will aviation-security transform once digital airports become the standard? As a Covid-19-provoked innovation, we can already observe how major airports transform their security measures. For example, contactless biometric identification systems take over passport control on many international airports by scanning passengers’ faces even with a mask on. Expectations are that digital airports will someday be able to provide contactless passenger flow. With these innovations, airports will aim to improve both passenger safety and experience. According to IATA’s Global Passenger Survey 2021, 80% of airline passengers would prefer it if they waited for less than 3 min at baggage drop and no more than 10 min at baggage claim. Reliable aviation software solutions will tackle these issues of traffic management and time management.
Welcoming the Electronic Flight Bag
In 2021, Airbus officially announced on their website that an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) will be a new standard and that the company will only rely on EFBs from 2022. But what exactly is an electronic flight bag exactly and how does it help automate some of the daily processes in aviation? Partially tackling the sustainability goals by reducing paper documents on board, the electronic flight bag is an IT aviation solution that helps cabin crew with end-to-end flight management.
Some of the core functions of these specific aviation software solutions are tracking and visualising flight data such as flight routes and performance charts and storing vital documentation such as the digital operating manuals, safety procedures, equipment lists, etc. Currently, the two types of EFBs are installed (incorporated into the aircraft deck by design) and portable ones (all other components with EFB functionalities). Although all ongoing innovations are so exciting, the future promises even more tech-savvy aviation software solutions. For instance, Artificial Intelligence is a strong tech candidate to help airlines filter data, optimise their operations and achieve higher flight security and customer satisfaction as an end effect. Especially when integrated into flight planning apps, EFBs or other airport management software, AI has tremendous future potential.
Digital Twins of Aircrafts
Ever heard of digital twins in the context of aviation? Digital twins are special types of aviation software solutions that create near-perfect virtual representations of real-life aircraft. With all specifications, unique features, capabilities and maintenance requirements, digital twins help airlines perform flight simulations, gain powerful insights on performance and optimisation strategies. Oftentimes, digital twins identify the optimal point in time for a maintenance measure and help make the most of the service life of single components or an entire aircraft.
While the real aircraft is in the air, a huge data package is growing in its digital twin on the server on the ground. In a way, an airplane and its digital twins are a complementary couple and should ideally work hand-in-hand in daily operations from the production to the decommissioning of the jet. Digital twins can also help design better and more reliable aviation products and parts by exploring unique strengths, minimising risk factors, and facilitating fast implementation while reaching global sustainability goals.
Author Biography Aleksandrina Vasileva
Aleksandrina is a Content Creator at Dreamix, a custom software development company, and is keen on innovative technological solutions with a positive impact on our world. Her teaching background mixed with interests in psychology drives her to share knowledge. She is an avid reader and enthusiastic blogger, always looking for the next inspiration.