Emerging technologies that may transform the aviation industry in 2021

To cope with the pandemic’s damage to the aviation industry, new technologies that aim to improve passenger security and confidence are currently under study and development.

The whole aviation industry would probably want to forget 2020. It was the worst year in aviation history, according to the IATA. The overall volume of passengers and number of flights dropped so much that it would take years before the industry fully recovered from the hit.

Of course, the problem was the pandemic caused by COVID-19. Government-imposed travel bans and lockdowns prevented people from going anywhere. However, even as the regulations became less strict, people were still afraid to travel because the virus’s threat is still there. And right now, with new COVID-19 variants emerging, nations have started to become more careful once more.

For airlines to survive this economic storm, they must regain passenger confidence. That is what most airlines are now trying to achieve through the use of better technology.

Let’s take a look at some of these technologies.


Advanced self-service biometrics

Using self-service facial recognition and touchless technologies, passenger experience in airports will be highly optimized. Airports around the world are planning to make automation and biometrics the norm in the next few years. These technologies will deliver a seamless airport experience where passengers can use their faces as their boarding pass, resulting in faster processing times. Passengers will no longer have to queue for prolonged periods, allowing more social distancing for everyone. Another benefit is that passengers won’t have to touch any equipment anymore, reducing infection risk through physical contact.

Touchless technology is also being implemented onboard the planes, such as in-flight entertainment screens, further boosting passenger confidence.


Software define network innovations

Different airport managements believe that managing passenger movement and crowd density is also a major issue in safety. Using passenger flow management technologies, like SITA Airport Management, authorities can have real-time passenger monitoring and insights that they can use to understand and proactively manage passenger movement in the airports. On the other hand, SITA’s Information Display System can be used to send personalized mobile messages to passengers, increasing the level of communication between them and the management.


Internet of Things, AI, and machine learning

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been around for decades. But the recent technological advances such as the 5G network, better AI programs, and cheaper hardware allow it to be utilized even further today.

Airport managements are looking to use robotics, autonomous vehicles, virtual agents, computer vision, and machine learning to solve business problems.

Machine learning algorithms provide predictions and recommendations by processing collected data and experiences without receiving explicit programming instructions. These algorithms are already being used to efficiently handle turbulence and varying weather patterns, resulting in more intelligent flight plans.

Using the IoT data, airports can use visually-enabled analysis with the help of AI-based recommendations to create real-time simulations of operations to improve operational efficiency and passenger experience.


Vaccination visas, Health ETAs, and Advanced Passenger Processing

To further increase passengers and crew safety, airports now plan to utilize Health ETAs, vaccination visas, and advanced passenger processing.

Health ETAs will allow governments to gain necessary information that will be used to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 or other diseases from travel and tourism. Passengers will have to provide information regarding their health condition, most likely including PCR test results to confirm if they carry COVID-19 antigens. This will allow airports to prevent the spread of disease and increase passenger confidence at the same time.

Advanced Passenger Processing or APP provides the ability to assess different risks and determine if a passenger may or may not be allowed to travel. Together with the implementation of Health ETAs, it enables real-time examinations to be performed upon each passenger and confirm their eligibility to travel.