People and planes are flying around the globe more than ever before, making the quest for a faster, more convenient and seamless travel experience a necessity for the future. Air traffic volumes are expected to double over the next 20 years. With an estimated 45,000 commercial aircraft in service by 2040 compared with 25,000 today, much is being done by way of preparation for this growth.
Technology revolution will enable airports, airlines and air traffic controllers to share information between them seamlessly and effortlessly for improved efficiency and profitability. All of these players are responsible for enhancing the passenger experience, from a quick check-in to taking off on time, and by sharing their information optimally they will be able to offer the best possible service to passengers.
Couch to craft
The check-in process, a once arduous task, is already much simpler than it was a few years ago. However, a decade from now, you can expect things to get even better. A transport app on your mobile phone means you can scan and authenticate your ID document while you have your morning coffee in the comfort of your own home. Thanks to artificial intelligence, there will be no doubt that your selfie matches the photo on the ID and you can now focus on securing the most traffic-free route to the airport. Thanks to the same app you used to buy your ticket, you are now on your way via the best route to the airport. You will not need to worry about whether you have enough cash since the train, metro, bus, bike, electric scooter or air taxi can all collect the fare in a single transaction via that very same app.
Blink of an Eye
The trepidation with which you once treaded terminals will be a thing of the past. Bid farewell to airport induced anxieties as you say your goodbyes to the daunting prospect of navigating airports, one of the top stressors for travelers.
CCTV and facial recognition are fast establishing themselves as indispensable technologies critical in making airports more secure while also making airport processes less daunting. The latest airport technologies use automated document readers to scan electronic signatures embedded in authentic, government-issued IDs. Facial recognition systems then compare the photo in the document to the actual person. This allows the system to simply answer “yes” or “no” to the question “does this traveler match their ID, is it authentic and were they expected to travel today?”
The face recognition technology, which uses a mix of biometric technology, facial and iris recognition is being tested in DXB’s Terminal 3. International travelers can look forward to faster, simpler boarding with facial recognition at Dubai International Airport, where all international travelers will be screened with facial recognition.
Automated passport control gates using facial recognition are already in service at select terminals at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Los Angeles international airports. By the way, all your personal information is automatically deleted when your plane takes off, in line with the latest data confidentiality requirements (EDPR2).
A unique digital identifier has been created from the biometric details of your face that were captured when you checked in on your smartphone a few hours earlier, coffee in hand. Now, simple facial recognition will be used to authenticate your ID at baggage drop-off, security checkpoints, passport control and during boarding — and even when you’re paying for your duty-free before you get to the gate. With the time spent standing in line cut by 80%, your digital identifier puts you on the fast track. You can relax at the gate, check your emails or stream a video. With more time to enjoy at the duty free shops, you can look forward to spending cash having saved that most precious commodity of all, time.
Connectivity in the clouds
For an increasing number of travelers, being connected in flight is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. The need for connectivity reigns supreme and the ability to stay in touch with family, connect with friends and access entertainment will culminate in a better travel experience.
With onboard connectivity and connected inflight entertainment systems, passengers can enjoy a fully connected experience from their seatback, or by using their personal devices to stream, surf the web, communicate, check their messages or work remotely. On an increasing number of aircraft, onboard connectivity truly offers a home away from home internet experience. By leveraging personal information and preferences provided by passengers, new big data technologies can deliver truly personalised services and unique experiences tailored to the needs of individual passengers.
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There is little else more grueling than waiting in long taxi queues and navigating public transport after a long flight. Once your plane lands, you’ll want to get to your final destination as quickly as possible, a pre-booked electric air taxi secured via your app could be the answer to your prayers when you land in DXB International Airport. Halfway between a helicopter and a drone, this autonomous mobility solution could save you some precious minutes!
In a move echoing Dubai’s Smart Autonomous Mobility Strategy, the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has recently signed agreements that will see magnetic, suspended driverless trains and Autonomous Air Vehicles arriving in Dubai sooner than expected. By 2030, visitors and residents can expect a quarter of the total mobility journeys to be completed using autonomous transport.
With regard to air taxis, the technology is mature, and the economics make sense. Two obstacles now stand in the way of widespread adoption: legislation — the relevant authorities are already on the case — and the acceptability of this new mean of transport to passengers and local residents. According to the latest estimates, air taxis could be commonplace by 2030.
Sustainability in the Skies
The industry is also working on ways to improve the environmental performance of the air transport sector, which currently produces 2% of the world’s CO2 emissions. There are plans to develop electric aircraft and hybrid mobility solutions, and flight trajectories will be constantly optimised thanks to connectivity and AI-based data analytics. An aircraft will spend less time taxiing to the runway, sitting there with the engines running waiting to take off, or circling the airport waiting to land — and these are the times they consume most fuel. Further optimisation of air traffic management can be achieved through weight savings and possible reduction in electricity consumption.
Thales FlytX3 avionics suite is the culmination of ten years of research and development; compared with the systems in service today, the latest avionics suites offer a 30-40% reduction in weight and electricity consumption.
The Internet of Aircraft Things
One of the safest modes of transport is air travel and safety records are set to improve as digital technologies evolve. Pilots can count artificial intelligence as a key technology supporting their decision-making process. The generation of recommendations based on automated analysis of the flows of data from all the players in the air transport sector relieves pilots from taking action on dull and repetitive tasks. Armed with the information they need, pilots are free to focus on making critical decisions that only they can make.
Ten years from now, every stakeholder in the industry will be privy to a radical change in the air transport sector as we know it. Every city and every airport is unique, each presenting its own challenges and each needing specific technologies to meet its requirements. Innovation, technology, hardware, connectivity and regulations must assemble in one efficient system, a system that meets the demands of travelers, transport providers and every player in the air transport ecosystem.