Digitization in aviation had been on a rapid upward trend before the pandemic hit. The industry has made progress in realizing its digital strategies – investing in cloud services, data centers, etc. – and continued to do so throughout the pandemic. Today, new technologies and innovations are appearing in a number of aviation segments, bringing improved efficiency across the industry.
Although it would appear that the two years of pandemic shutdowns and restrictions have hampered the progress of aviation by digitizing many aspects of the industry, in reality many businesses and services have continued the process. Magnus Söderberg, director of business improvement at Aviator Airport Alliance, a Nordic one-stop shop for aviation services, also sees how technology improves efficiency.
“We are currently seeing rapid progress in the aviation industry through the implementation and adoption of new technologies. It improves efficiency by eliminating or reducing the resources spent in terms of time and money. The introduction of new technologies, whether software or hardware, minimizes manual tasks and time wasted waiting or searching for information, while reducing the consumption of raw materials,” he says.
Aviation technologies in play
Söderberg notes that some of the examples of technologies currently being used to bring more efficiency to day-to-day processes are software to automate arrival services, using electrical ground support equipment (GSE) and its geolocation tracking.
Other technology adoptions, which may seem more familiar to an everyday traveler, are self-service bag drop solutions as well as online check-ins, which have reduced long queues at airports. and reduces aircraft processing time. The so-called “bag journey” or baggage tracking software allows passengers to have more control over their baggage immediately after dropping it off and until arrival. This has significantly reduced the number of lost and delayed bags.
“The digitization of aviation has brought heaps of more efficient solutions for passengers and the industry, which is now seen as an integral part of the flying experience – both commercial and private – and the daily processes carried out by ground handling crews, as well as maintenance, repair and overhaul specialists,” Söderberg notes. “And there are many other new technologies already created or under development that drive automation processes in industry.
The impact of adopting new technologies
Söderberg notes that the impact of adopted technologies is mostly immediate, although there are exceptions. If the technology solution in question facilitates a process or procedure by removing manual tasks, the impact is instantaneous. However, if it is data and information, the impact could be both.
“If the technology adopted allows us to have better, faster and more accurate information like GSE tracking, it will change processes and behaviors over time, allowing us to make decisions based on the new information. But it can be immediate if, for example, we buy an electric GSE. In this case, the effects are instantaneous, not on the operations themselves, but in terms of emissions, costs and noise reduction.”
The changes – the implementation of technologies to increase efficiency – bring many benefits to the entire industry, and Aviator notices this too. Providing aviation services ranging from passenger and baggage handling to de-icing, cargo and full cargo management to station services, the company has piloted the implementation of Green GSE. According to Söderberg, this is critical for Aviator because reducing carbon emissions will ensure sustainable operations for the future.
During the pandemic, the industry did not know how and when it would recover, so it had to adapt for the time being and think about the possible post-pandemic aviation landscape. But this period has only reinforced the need for innovative solutions in aviation. New advances in technology have brought changes that are now an essential part of aviation and new digitalization processes could bring even more efficiency to the aviation industry as a whole.