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Pick a sector-slash-industry at random and you’ll find that technology has changed the game drastically, but none more so than the world of aviation. This is something that has been embraced right the way across the spectrum with a myriad of endgames being aimed for.
There is better fuel efficiency, airports going greener, recyclability concerns being addressed, and a ton of other variables coming into play right the way from manufacturers through to suppliers.
So, without further ado, here are some of the ways in which technology is having its biggest effect, as well as some that we can expect to see in the not so distant future:
The Internet Of Things
The aviation industry was one of the early adopters of the Internet Of Things which, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, is the use of tech that allows almost every electronic device to communicate with one another. The proactive stance of aviation businesses early on, today professionals in maintenance and repair able to understand their aircraft better than ever thanks to sensors they can connect to by tablet. This has massively improved the safety. Those that need to know can now quickly understand what components of a plane may require attention. A lot of the sensors even communicate with the suppliers so that they know when a part is nearing the end of its life.
How drones will be used in the future is anyone’s guess, but it is certainly going to be for more than just making Amazon deliveries (although that is cool). However, in the world of aviation, and more specifically safety, drones are being used by many big name companies as maintenance and inspection tools. These easy to use and highly informative devices are being used to visually identify any parts of an aircraft that may require a service without a physical inspection. Airbus demonstrated this last year, while EasyJet has also bolstered its use of drones to check for lightning damage on incoming planes.
Technology isn’t just there to improve the safety of planes, it is also there to improve the efficiency involved in the flying process, something that has touched the niche of an online pilot logbook. These electronic spreadsheets don’t just help a pilot produce flight hour summaries, monitor currencies and their flight-slash-duty hours, they are have also been specifically designed to meet the needs of pilots operating in different locations and thus under different rules. These can then be printed out and reported, which can have a major influence on insurance premiums as well as aviation understanding.
It is early days in the partnerships between aircraft manufacturers and 3D printers, but already huge pieces of aircraft are being produced, such as a Boeing 777 wing trim tool. The amazing thing is the time saved. Traditionally, this piece would have taken around ninety days to produce, yet it was completed in just under thirty hours through these new methods. As a result, two huge names in aviation manufacturing have started making plans to use 3D printing in their processes – Airbus and Rolls Royce. Just think about what this will mean for the shipment of aircraft parts. Instead of having to – literally – ship parts of a plane around the world, you could just share 3D printing blueprints, saving time, money and the environment. The possibilities are huge here.
There are no doubts that virtual reality has long had a role to play in this game, especially when it comes to flight simulations. However, the introduction of augmented reality is quickly addressing the issue that is a shortage of maintenance and repair professionals. The reason for this shortage is terrifying but understandable, especially with the rapid expansion of airlines across the world. What augmented reality will allow companies to do is very quickly train these maintenance and repair professionals anywhere in the world instead of having them wait in line for the next available training spot, which could be months away. Essentially, AR technology will let people get the hours required by industry standards. This is by no means being used extensively yet, although some big names are using remote guidance as a way of filling the current void in training MROs.
The use of technology is nothing new in the world of aviation, not at any stage or in any area but, while we don’t know what the future holds, one thing is for sure, they will keep pushing the boundaries and leading the way. It is just what this sector does.