How Might Travelling by Plane Change in the Future?

Aviation is certainly part of the future of travel. No other transport method allows you to travel as far, as fast. But it’s not as good as it could be; there is too much reliance on large airport hubs, too much inefficiency in fuel usage, and security queues are too long.

Fortunately, there are lots of businesses popping-up which aim to improve many aspects of the flying experience. Crowdfunding, in particular, is helping more of these innovative businesses get started, changing the way we fly forever.

So what technologies can we expect to see in the near future?

Changes to Safety

AI Pilot Assistance

While we expect that there will always be some sort of pilot sitting at the controls, we will increasingly begin to see AI taking the controls. At first, AI will make small adjustments to the flight course and aircraft environment in order to maximise passenger comfort and safety. As the technology gets more advanced, AI will take more of the controls away from pilots, adapting to conditions with reactions far faster than any human.

Augmented Reality Pilots

Helmets that include an augmented reality (AG) display will allow pilots to keep track of all of the controls, alerts, signals, etc. more easily. It will also allow pilots to undergo more immersive training – visualising exactly how the aircraft will react in various circumstances.

Changes to speed

Speedy Security

Most of us have checked-in online or via our mobile devices, taking our boarding passes with us to the airport. This has reduced queue time and the reliance on check-in counter staff. In the future, we will be able to do the same for security, drastically cutting down the time from arrival at an airport to take-off.

Automated Aircraft Inspections

Currently, aircraft need to be manually checked between each flight; in the future, this will include automated aircraft checks conducted by robots and AI, which will speed up the process considerably. Currently, manual checking is very time-consuming, as engineers need to ensure that the safety of the aircraft is at the highest level. This is achieved by using a premium jet oil like aeroshell 15w50 that’s approved for aircraft use and can protect its parts from wear and tear, save money on maintenance and keep larger jets flying for longer. However, with technology advancing how it is this process will soon be done at a much faster pace.

New Aircraft Design

New technology, such as 3D printing, will allow for new aircraft and engine design possibilities. For example, there are already teams working on 3D printing new thinner, low-drag wings from layered composite materials. This will allow for the return of supersonic flights, but with far higher safety standards.

Changes to costs

Data and predictive software

We’ve already seen how data can improve fuel-efficiency, but it can also be used to anticipate customer numbers in order to reduce crew requirements and engine maintenance.

Changes to the environment

Making Flying More Fuel-Efficient

Flying is one of the safest forms of transport, but it is also one of the least environmentally-friendly. It is no surprise, then, that there are billions of dollars of investment going into developing more fuel-efficient engines and flight solutions.

One such solution is to make use of the massive amounts of data available to understand customers’ travelling behaviours and adapting to better meet their needs. For example, data can help us understand which flights, on which days, at which time of year are the most and least popular. A suitable aircraft can then be chosen for the number of passengers, rather than using a larger, less efficient craft.

Electric and Hybrid Engines

Designing a fully-electric aircraft engine is incredibly complicated – in the meantime, we expect to see hybrid electric-fuel engines that lessen the reliance on conventional petrol.

Changes to the choice of airports

Local airfields

Currently, most flights travel through main airport hubs, such as Gatwick and Heathrow in the UK. These airports are well-equipped, but they can also be expensive.

However, there are thousands of local airports and hangars dotted across every country which can often be used at much cheaper rates than the main transport hubs. We will see these being used more frequently to save costs, share the burden, and help people get closer to where they want to be.

Changes to onward travel

Getting you exactly where you want to go

Airlines will begin partnering with other airlines, local taxi companies, and even boat taxis in order to get travellers exactly where they want to go. Passengers will be able to travel to the closest airport to their final destination, have a taxi pick them up, and then jump on a boat for those more remote locations.

These services will be linked seamlessly together. As soon as you step-off one form of transport, you’ll step straight onto another. Not only will this make travelling quicker, it will be far easier and stress-free for travellers in remote regions to get from A to B.

With so many exciting future innovations looking likely for air travel, flying will be even faster, cheaper, safer and much more environmentally-friendly in the near future.

By: Nick Magliocchetti

Nick Magliocchetti is Co-Founder and CEO of Waves – a new data-driven airline currently servicing the Channel Islands. Waves is predicated on the idea that technology and data can make flying cheaper, quicker, and more fuel-efficient. Waves holds an Aircraft Operator’s Certificate (AOC) for the Channel Islands, but will be expanding to serve the rest of the UK and Europe in 2018.