Travel TrendsWith an increasing number of passengers demanding sustainable travel, it is crucial for airports and airlines to adopt greener approaches.

5 aviation technology trends set to take flight in the next few years

The pressure is on for airports and airlines to adapt to new trends which can help speed up industry recovery.
The pressure is on for airports and airlines to adapt to new trends which can help speed up industry recovery. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/hxdyl

The aviation industry has seen several major upheavals after having to adapt to rapidly changing regulations and travel requirements that result from various Covid-19 variants. In light of the fluctuating border controls that continue to this day, CEO of SITA for Aircraft, Sebastien Fabre examines five critical travel technology trends set to transform the industry in 2022 and the years to follow.

Digital automation to fuel industry recovery

Investing on automation of passenger processing continues to see a rise despite budgets being slashed for airports and airlines. Fabre notes that automation and digitalisation will give rise to low-touch and efficient operations that can help restore passengers’ confidence in travelling.

“In addition to automated passenger processing, we need to standardise and digitalise health verification to ensure easier, safer, and more seamless travel in the face of ongoing health concerns,” Fabre shares.

Airport operational efficiency and sustainability will work in tandem

“Through operational efficiency, airports can also drive significant sustainability gains,” Fabre says. “According to ACI, 235 airports across Europe have committed to net-zero by 2050, and more than 90 airports are now set to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.”

SITA and Envision Digital recently joined forces to develop net-zero technology and help decarbonise airports. The collaboration aims to combine solutions to optimise airport operations to reduce local emissions while optimising infrastructure-related energy consumption.

According to Fabre, most airports have implemented sustainability initiatives that include green spaces, use of natural light and renewable energy, recycling points, and smart building technology and automation. Along with saving costs, improving aviation operations is estimated to reduce emissions by up to 10%, driving airports closer to their sustainability goals.

Airlines can drive sustainability with smart solutions

Fabre shares that the current solutions available in this modern age “can help pilots optimise their flight profiles to maximise fuel efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and improve situational awareness for safer, more comfortable flights”.

Citing the software suite OptiFlight that helps save aircraft fuel and reduce CO2 emissions during the climb, cruise and descent flight phases, Fabre believes that digital solutions such as this “can have a major impact today while alternative fuels are being developed and refined over the following decades".

Regional airports must gear up for the post-pandemic boom

Fabre sees that domestic air travel will play a big role in markets like the US, India and China, but questions if these regional airports are prepared for the surge of passengers.

“We'll likely see regional airports experiencing capacity constraints sooner as domestic travel resumes at an accelerated pace,” Fabre says. “Passengers traveling from regional airports also demand the same digital experience and efficiencies they receive at international hubs. On top of that comes greater airline expectations, route volatility, space constraints, staff multi-tasking, and a myriad more.”

Blockchain to pave the way for efficient air travel

“Blockchain holds immense potential for the air transport industry because of its unique ability to share information instantly, securely, and privately between the dozens of stakeholders across airports, governments, airlines, and OEMs,” Fabre shares.

Blockchain refers to a digitally distributed, decentralised, public ledger that exists across a network, which Fabre believes is key in reducing manual work like the tracking and tracing of aircraft spare parts.

Fabre goes on to cite SITA’s blockchain-based solution that allows pilots to verify an electronic personnel license (EPL) without network connectivity. Meanwhile for passengers, Fabre says that blockchain can potentially “solve many of the efficiency challenges the industry faces today”.

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