7 aviation experts predict the future of flight

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Every two years, the world's leading aviation experts come together at the Farnborough International Airshow. This is where they reveal their latest innovations in systems and machinery. It's an incredible environment where raw power, streamlined design and digital technology come together to shape the future of flight.

Digital Industry Insider was there this year, and we asked the leading players for their predictions on the future of flight.

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Rod Matheson – Scientific Solutions Division, Olympus

Rod Matheson – Scientific Solutions Division, Olympus

The amount of automation will increase

"I predict that we’ll have even more sophisticated smart technology - a fully automated online system, fully automated inspections and online monitoring systems whilst the aircraft is flying with feedback to the engineer," Matheson says.

"For consumers it will speed up the inspection probability detection – getting flights off on time. Five or 10 years ago someone could have missed a minor defect but as technologies get better and better we’re picking up even the smallest defect. Traditionally a full plane inspection can take 6-10 hours but the technology is changing and it will help to keeps costs down and we’re flying longer."

Jude Schramm – CIO, GE Aviation

Jude Schramm – CIO, GE Aviation

Air travel will be a seamless experience

"Travelling will become much more of a connected experience," Schramm says. "If you think about travelling today, it’s car reservations, it’s when do I leave to go to the airport, it’s getting through the airport, getting on to a flight, finding a hotel, getting to the hotel...I think that becomes connected," Schramm says.

"Digital tools will come together at some point and you can do that very easily, much more easily than you can do today. You’ll get to your flight much like you do to transportation on the ground. The question’s going to be who is going to disrupt this entire thing, much like what Uber has done, to just disrupt the different segments of that travel experience and bring it together in one platform."

Ben Vogel – Editor, IHS Jane’s Airport Review

Ben Vogel – Editor, IHS Jane’s Airport Review

Big data will improve the airport experience

"There’s a lot of confident talk about harnessing the power of big data to make the passenger experience that bit easier," predicts Vogel. "Passenger processing will certainly become a much smoother experience, with reduced bottlenecks at the security checkpoints for instance and at the boarding gate. That’s the aim, but it will take some time."

"Smart use of big data could also help with the inflight experience for the passenger, and for retailers in terms of retail in duty free, tracking customer behaviour and all aspects of air travel."

Professor Herve Morvan – Institute for Aerospace Technology, University of Nottingham

Professor Herve Morvan – Institute for Aerospace Technology, University of Nottingham

Digital design will change how we make planes

"We are seeing step changes in engine architecture," says Morvan. "Through digital design and that will go from strength to strength. That means designing digitally far more than we do now. The system could be the whole aircraft."

"If you really want to make step changes — performance of the engine or design — you don’t have the luxury of iteration or incremental change. The focus we see from our industry partner is far greater digitization of design processes and far greater integration with rest of aircraft."

Tom Palmer – Senior Vice President of Services, Civil Aerospace, Rolls-Royce

Tom Palmer – Senior Vice President of Services, Civil Aerospace, Rolls-Royce

Digital analytics will improve airline operations

“The game changer in technology terms is the incredible promise held by digital analytics," Palmer says.

“It involves the deployment of knowledge more widely and more collaboratively; to understand fuel usage, aircraft routes and flight paths, air traffic control and the weather right through to managing an operator’s engine inventory and helping them plan that inventory right through to the point of engine disposal, either to another operator or to retirement.”

Clement Cesarine – Spherea Test & Services Limited

Clement Cesarine – Spherea Test & Services Limited

Security processing time will shorten

"For consumers, we expect to see an improvement in the security of equipment and time of dynamic testing. It will improve the time of testing," Cesarine predicts.

"Already the quality of test bench fleet supervision has gotten much more sophisticated. Continuity between production testing and maintenance testing will ensure greater safety in the sky."

Kevin Crowley – Vice President of Digital Aviation, Boeing

Kevin Crowley – Vice President of Digital Aviation, Boeing

Big data will drive smarter operations

"Advanced data analytics already is changing how airlines operate, making them more efficient and driving down costs. Every day, Boeing customers use our tools to monitor 3,200 airplanes in flight for predictive maintenance information to avoid delays and disruptions," Crowley explains.

"Our customers use Boeing’s analytics-based decision engines to reduce crew-scheduling costs by as much as 7 percent, reduce engine maintenance costs by 10-15 percent, and to conserve hundreds of pound of fuel on every flight. Every part of an airline’s operation — from managing inventory to serving passengers — is benefiting from advanced analytics."

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