With a pandemic that put the world on a standstill, 2020 was unarguably the toughest and possibly worst year in the history of the aviation industry. However, the corona virus has accelerated and demanded changes that will address the critical issues the industry currently faces in a post-COVID world.

Avoid Contact!

So far, the aviation industry has had no choice but to adapt to the ‘new normal’. From the airports to the aviation manufacturers and operators, things have, for the most part, been contactless and digital as possible. Many airports have already transformed the check-in process to minimize human-to-human interaction. Automated kiosks have occupied the place of traditional check-in desks, and digital signage now guides customers through the boarding process.

Other examples of increased digitization include security clearance and advanced object and body scanning technologies, paperless boarding passes, and automated boarding processes. The frictionless and automated passenger experience of the future will come in the form of advanced self-service kiosks loaded with biometric technology, such as facial recognition. These are all linked via IoT protocols and analyzed and deciphered by artificial intelligence ( AI) and machine learning algorithms. By employing artificial intelligence (AI), aviation operators can filter millions of terabytes of data to unearth operational insights. Airports will use this same technology to deliver insights into retail spending, security processes, travel patterns, bathroom facilities, parking, check-in procedures, and much more. VINCI Airports, for example, has gone one step further by becoming the first airport operator in the world to deploy biometrics throughout the entire passenger journey home to plane via its artificially intelligent travel assistant named Mona. Asides airports, aviation manufacturers also benefit from the insights delivered by machine learning. For instance, GE uses machine learning and data analytics to identify faults in engines, increasing the life span of components and reducing maintenance costs. Airports are costly operations themselves. Even as little as the efficiency saving provided by IoT-enabled sensor- based PoE lighting can deliver considerable cost reductions.

Be Eco Friendly!

Additionally, the substantial development in many environmental measurements, which resulted from a major standstill for much of 2020, has put quite the pressure on the aviation industry to do its part in tackling climate change. Technology will be at the forefront of motivating that change and can have as meaningful an impact as finding environmentally-friendly bio fuels. Some airlines have switched to paperless tickets and continue to make improvements to their operations and reservation systems in order to reduce energy usage and carbon output. Adopting the right technology will increase plane fuel efficiency, eliminate waste, and decarbonize the aviation industry, especially at a sensitive stage as this.

Go E or Go Home!

Though the airline industry has no control over vaccine distribution, a lot of countries require proof of vaccination for entry. To simplify this process, the IATA has encouraged airlines to incorporate a health “passport app” within their consumer applications. While health and immunity passports aren’t new to travellers, various schemes have been adopted to invent digital health passports around the world. For instance, the CommonPass project verifies vaccination records and lab results by encouraging passengers to upload their results to their mobile phones. Moreover, the IATA has released the Travel Pass app to help passengers convey their test results to borderline authorities and airlines.

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