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Berlin, Germany, June 18, 2021

Top 5 Emerging Technology Trends that are reshaping Aviation Business

Maximilian Sieben
Finance, Strategy
Today we write our blog post on a topic that has been accompanied us since we started the development of our Aeroji platform. It is a topic that interests a lot of aviation professionals because it will significantly shape and change our future. At the same time, it also raises a lot of questions. We are talking about new technologies that have emerged in recent years and have already started to revolutionize the aviation sector and digitally transform it to a tech-savvy and customer centric industry. In the following we would like to introduce you to the Top 5 of these technologies from our point of view, briefly explain what's behind them, give particular examples from different industries and refer to the aviation sector.
Artificial Intelligence
A technology that will significantly change our lives and that is already doing so in many areas is artificial intelligence. We understand AI as a machine's ability to mimic human abilities such as reasoning, learning, planning, and creativity. Instead of being programmed for every purpose, an AI enables technical systems to perceive their environment, to deal with what is perceived and to solve problems independently in order to achieve a specific goal.

Autonomous driving and speech recognition are just a few common examples in which artificial intelligence is already being used. Thanks to the versatility of AI and its ability to learn, it is already being used by many different companies and industries. In the following we give three examples from various industries that could just as easily be used in aviation:

  • The world's largest online retailer for example uses AI for demand forecasting. The system can thus estimate the number of products required, which reduces storage costs and thus costs for the customer. It also has a positive influence on the logistics processes on site.
  • In the financial sector, artificial intelligence is used for collecting accounts receivables and checking creditworthiness. The AI checks potential customers and easily generates the content and type of contact.
  • In the legal sector, many tasks of legal assistants can be automated by artificial intelligence. At the moment, the AI is mainly used for document research and reviews.

The airline industry recognizes the value of AI in assisting them in improving their technological capabilities. Many forward-thinking airlines see the impact AI may have across different industries and are already investing in it. EasyJet for example is using AI for predictive analysis. The airline tries to make sense of all the available data and utilize these insights to develop individualized offers and personalized experiences for their passengers. The airline also has a passport recognition program that reads passports and fills out all of the information for passengers, making data entry and management easier.
Big Data and Analytics
Nowadays it's all about data. Big data analytics makes it possible to analyze large amounts of data from different sources. The information gained and the patterns recognized can be used to optimize or even innovate company processes. Powerful analysis tools help companies to save money and time, to develop new goods and services and finally make better business decisions. An important aspect regarding big data analytics is that it is not only about how much data you have, but especially what you do with this data. Therefore, big data analysis can help to solve a lot of business-related tasks. We've gathered a few samples for you below:

  • Big data analyses help to identify the sources of malfunctions, difficulties, and faults, in near real time.
  • It allows a recalculation of whole risk portfolios within minutes.
  • Transportation industry can achieve significant optimization of fuel consumption.
  • Consumer order habits can be investigated in order to personalize marketing and increase sales.
  • Big data is used to improve aircraft maintenance by comparing operating expenses, fuel amount, and expenses, among other things.

Airlines can gain valuable insights by analyzing the huge amounts of available data in order to create pleasant travel experiences. They can also better understand customer preferences based on data from their purchase history and travel routes and, among other things, provide them with tailored offers. In practice this results in a revenue increase of up to 15%. Furthermore, this data may be used to improve operational efficiencies through predictive analytics.

The use of big data analytics combined with AI is an incredibly powerful technology that is now not only used by the digital giants but is also finding its way into the industrial sector.
Blockchain
The blockchain has always been more than just the technology that powers Bitcoin's cryptocurrency. Rather, the technology is increasingly recognized as the true innovation, with the potential to transform a variety of areas of society far beyond the sphere of digital currencies. It is substantially emerging into the public consciousness, not least because of the huge range of conceivable use cases.

Technically, the blockchain is a decentralized database that is replicated over a network of computers. A key difference to other databases is that its entries are summarized in blocks and saved as transaction. The single transactions are added in chronological order and thus form a chain. These distributed data structures are forgery-proof, traceable, and immutable. Therefore, with blockchain technology, ownership relationships can be secured and regulated more directly and more efficiently than before, as seamless and unchangeable data recording creates the basis for this.

Given its prominence in the financial sector, blockchain technology is finding a wide range of applications in other industries as well. We've gathered some interesting application examples for you, which we'll show you in the following.

One of the best-known examples are financial transactions. Above all, the cryptocurrencies illustrate how the technology can be used in the financial world. In the course of a blockchain, individual transactions are verified and distributed to the so-called nodes. This results in a high level of data consistency and a particularly high level of transparency. Encryption is done by using a hash function that secures the data and protects it from manipulation. This principle opens up interesting application possibilities for international payments. Since the verification takes place within the network, intermediaries can be excluded, and transaction costs reduced. Also, the speed of transactions can be significantly increased.

Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the supply chain. Advantages can be gained by simplifying contracts and tracking the associated items on a continuous basis. A supply chain would be entirely transparent from point of origin to the end user. An apparent benefit for aviation is that the traceability of LLPs and tracking parts may be guaranteed.

The technology also offers completely new possibilities for the administration and issuing of certificates. These are secured with a personal key and internationally recognized. This means the official certification and delivery of the original documents could be skipped in the future. Thus, OEMs and repair service providers would be able to create certificates that cannot be forged by utilizing the blockchain.

In some industries including aviation, proving a person's identification is difficult. However, using blockchain technology, existing identifying documents, such as driver's licenses, passports, and ID cards, could thus be securely implemented digitally and people's identities could be verified more securely and quickly than before. Thereby Airlines can eliminate the need for physical ID proofs by storing passengers' data in a virtual de-centralized database that can be accessed by relevant personnel. Manipulation would also be nearly impossible.

As you can see, blockchain technology tackles a wide range of issues. We've just touched on a few examples of the numerous possibilities. Therefore, it is definitely a technology whose advancement is worth following.
Internet of Things
For a future airplane, Internet of Things (IoT) entails total component networking. Everything on board will be connected and monitored in real time. Various sensors will identify and report issues to ground maintenance crews, eliminating the need for crew to manually report defects. This ability to detect and connect with digital systems with specific objectives will help aviation companies to improve in a variety of areas, including customer service and internal management. The technology can also be used in many other areas. But what's behind it and where is IoT already being used today?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept that refers to a network of physical objects or things that have been given a unique identity. They can communicate with one another and receive commands. Sensors, software, and other technologies are typically included into the individual items in order to connect them to other devices and systems through the Internet and exchange data. As a result, applications may be automated, and activities can be completed without the need for human participation. The IoT is sometimes referred to as the fourth wave of the industrial revolution or Industry 4.0. The following are some common uses for the IoT:

  • Smart manufacturing
  • Networked assets and preventive and predictive maintenance
  • Intelligent power grids
  • Smart cities
  • Networked logistics
  • Intelligent digital supply chains

Airbus tests are an excellent example of how the Internet of Things may be used to expand the number of services. On board of the A350-900, an ecosystem based on Internet of Things technology was installed, allowing passengers, crews, and airlines to benefit from extra services. The system also includes technologies like Big Data and Machine Learning in order to handle massive volumes of data and to classify and recognize patterns. The company has already conducted flight tests, and it appears to be a significant step forward in the aviation industry. Boeing and a few airlines are also putting the technology to the test.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
In recent years, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have become integral parts of the multimedia landscape, as well as the industry. The underlying technologies have reached a high level of maturity, and the spread of the required end devices is being accelerated by technological advancements. On the one hand virtual reality (VR) is transporting us into a fantastical world filled with realistic images, sounds, and other sensations. And on the other hand, there is the augmented reality (AR) that inserts virtual objects or texts into the real world.

Today, both technologies have been used in the automotive, manufacturing, construction, aviation, healthcare, extractive sector, law enforcement, education, and real estate industries. The following are the main areas in which both technologies can excel and become effective solutions:

  • Repair and maintenance
  • Inspection and quality assurance
  • Design and assembly
  • Immersive training

VR/AR aid in the detection and elimination of risks, as well as the training of personnel, resulting in fewer onsite accidents. Using these technologies precision can be improved at every stage of the industrial manufacturing process, resulting in shorter time-to-market and higher-quality manufactured items.

There are many good examples of how immersive technologies can improve the efficiency of the assembly process. Boeing for example achieved outstanding results by equipping their personnel with hands-free AR equipment, increasing their productivity and cutting wiring production time significantly.

Another example of how the technology is being used is the Gatwick Airport, which uses augmented reality to assist passengers in catching flights. Therefore, the world's first augmented reality wayfinding app was introduced. For this reason, there are 2,000 beacons or navigation points spread throughout the airport, that helps passengers to quickly determine their exact location within the facility by utilizing the app.
In summary, the described technologies are very promising and forward-thinking, and it is obvious that they will undoubtedly impact our lives and the aviation business forever. Therefore, we at Aeroji are keeping a close eye on developments and do our best to actively contribute to the shift towards our vision of a world in which the aviation industry meets at eye-level and does business as easy as booking a flight.
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