We highlighted the first three of interesting “Ten Technologies Airport Should Keep an Eye On”, Blockchain, Biometric, and Cyber Security Technology on our previous edition. Most modern airport nowadays leverage innovation and technology to shape the future travel experience to be streamlined, efficient, and enjoyable. On this edition, we would like to introduce our four out of ten technologies that airport should keep an eye on.

Airport Assistance

A PRM or Passengers with Restricted Mobility due to a physical or mental disability or age, and whose condition requires additional assistance when moving around the Airport. Lately, RPM represent one of the fastest-growing demographics in air travel industry with annual growth in passenger numbers broadly at many airports worldwide. New PRMs are becoming more and more tech-savvy and value their independence even more than the previous generation

Airport operators aim to assist passengers with reduced mobility in the best way possible, tailored to their needs, delivering enhanced services and improved operational efficiency. Now, Information Technology can further help PRM find their way with comfort around airports. Within its airport IT solutions, Airport Assistance included specialized features to ensure that the support of PRM can be provided efficiently, from the perspectives of both the service provider and the recipient.

According to Future Travel Experience’s report, Edinburgh Airport has installed new video technology to provide better contact between passengers with reduced mobility and staff upon arrival. The airport has invested a total of £425,000 in the call points which are located at critical locations of the passenger journey such as the long stay car park, the drop-off area, coach park and tram stop. The initiative follows direct feedback from PRM passengers and from the airport’s Special Assistance Consultative Committee, and is the latest improvement to the PRM and special assistance offering.

Edinburgh airport also launched an app which allows passengers with reduced mobility and hidden disabilities to personalize the assistance they need. ‘Welcome’ by Neatebox allows people with disabilities to set up a personal profile and request assistance in advance from facilities and venues which recognize the app. The app, built by Edinburgh-based firm, Neatebox, sends a signal to the airport’s passengers with reduced mobility (PRM) reception to tell staff the passenger is on their way to the airport so they can prepare.

Additionally, airports such as Heathrow and Wellington Airport are leading the charge with Aira’s new venture, which provides an assistance app for those who are blind or have limited vision.

Nowadays, many airports are passionate about passenger experience and are dedicated to delivering the best services to those with disabilities. With multiple passenger touch points including check in, security and retail, how the airports interact and treat passengers impacts on their journey, and in turn, the way in which they perceive the reputation of the clients, airports and airlines.


Voice Recognition

Voice recognition technology is a tool that enables the recognition and translation of spoken language into text by computers. With Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa making such a widespread in the home device market, voice is seen as one of the next big frontiers of travel in delivering greater convenience for travelers and hopefully more revenue for travel providers. Concerning the popularity of voice recognition-aided home assistants, the aviation industry is also looking for techniques to combine the technology into its service offering and provides the next steps in a seamless experience for passengers.

The popularity of air transport continues to grow, placing an even greater workload on air traffic controllers (ATCOs). They have been suggested that their predicament can be improved through an automatic speech recognition system closely integrated with an arrival manager developed by EU and SESAR-funded researchers. The automatic speech recognition could provide a solution to significantly reduce ATCOs workloads and increase ATM efficiency.

Moreover, voice check-in services have been established; United Airlines, in conjunction with Google Assistant, currently enables passengers to check-in for flights simply by saying “Hey Google, check in to my flight”. As well as Virgin Australia also allows you to check on the status of your flight, through its partnership with Amazon’s Alexa. The eventual goal is to develop software and features that can anticipate travelers’ needs well in advance of their travel bookings. The adoption of voice recognition technology to streamline our pre-airport routine is undoubtedly the future of travel.


Robot and Automation

Robot and automation are the use of control systems and information technologies reducing the need for human intervention. In aviation industry, we could see the increasing level of robot and automation in many areas, for example, air traffic control and flight operations, a robotic pilot driven the plane automatically, and a humanoid robot which gives assistance to passengers. Day by day, many airports have started using robots and automation to help passengers get answers to their queries, act as guides, proving security and cleaning service and even provide entertainment.

A recent report compiled by the New Zealand Airline Pilots Association stated that robot and automation already play a massive part in aviation. Most modern aircraft are controlled mainly by computers, with automatic flight management systems. The role of the pilot has been altered considerably, given the advancement and accuracy of these computerized systems. Pilots can take over the controls – but systems and processes are in place to allow aircraft to operate under considerable automation, and in fact, this has become the accepted norm for commercial aviation.

Likewise, automation can perform in part of the entertainment, for example, the Rain Vortex, an auto waterfall which will transform into a light-and-sound show, is one of the features at Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore. Further, safety is a top priority of the aviation industry therefore, robots and automation also use to help secure the safety of air factors.

With the growth in air travel and commerce, demand for skilled manpower is at an all-time high and employees are working overtime in stressed environments. Robots can help to reduce this pressure on humans and provide faster output while simultaneously providing superior work efficiency, freeing humans to do other jobs at a more comfortable pace.

However, robotic and automated equipment includes the high capital expenditure required to invest in automation — an automated system can cost millions of dollars to design, fabricate, and install. Furthermore, robots and automation are less flexible than humans in some kinds of work.

Artificial Intelligence

The use of Artificial Intelligence technology in commercial aviation has brought some significant changes in the ways flights are being operated today. The world’s leading airliner service providers are now using AI tools and technologies to deliver a more personalized traveling experience to their customers. From building AI-powered airport kiosks to using it for automating airline operations and security checking, AI will play even more critical roles in the aviation industry.

Few airlines now use artificial intelligence for predictive analytics, pattern recognition, auto-scheduling, targeted advertising, and customer feedback analysis showing promising results for better flight experience.

Regarding the passenger process, the Transportation Security Administration of the United States has introduced new AI technology to identify potential threats at the John F. Kennedy, Los Angeles International Airport and Phoenix airports. Once installed, the AI technology will make the process of passenger identification fast and easy for officials. Security scanners, biometric identification, and machine learning are some of the AI technologies that will make a number of jobs easy for us. In this way, AI helps us predict disruption in airline services.

American airline company Delta Airlines took the initiative in 2017. Their online check-in via Delta mobile app and ticketing kiosks have shown promising results and nowadays you can see many airlines taking similar features to the whole new level.

Nevertheless being considered as a future of the aviation industry, AI has some pitfalls. The recent fatal incident of Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 was an eye-opener for us and it clearly represents the drawback of AI technology in the aviation sector. The Boeing 737 crashed a few minutes after it took off from the capital of Ethiopia.

As the matter of fact, AI is quite expensive; for example, if an airline company is planning to deploy a chat-bot, it will have to invest more than $15,000. Thus, it would be a hard thing for small companies to invest for the same and this could create a barrier between small and big airlines in the future. As the market is becoming highly competitive, big airlines will overcome the market and the small airlines might face an existential threat due to this reason.


You don’t want to miss what are coming up! Please also stay with us for the last three interesting technologies on our next edition.