Digital Transformation in the Aviation Industry


The dawn of technology brought with it numerous advantages which are being refined, adopted, and continuously implemented by various industries. Several businesses recognise the enormous potential the cyberworld can offer, and trades switching to digital are ever increasing, among which we also find the aviation industry.

Air travel could not stay indifferent in front of the obvious benefits technology can bring to the table, and as we will see, slowly but surely over the years it started introducing and applying more digital assets to enable the industry`s transformation, yielding enhanced services and providing a positive holistic experience to its clients.

Let’s take a look at where aviation started and where it is now, especially thanks to technology.

Air Travel Evolution

Indeed when we look back through the rich history of aviation, we immediately acknowledge that enormous leaps have been achieved.

Basically, it has been a century now since early aviation started to operate, and during the years we saw the regular amendments, tweaks and fine-tuning of safety standards and customer service, producing the current strong structured industry we recognise today.

In fact, it was back around 1914 that the earliest commercial line was instituted, while the first passenger flight took off (pun intended) in 1919. Until the Air Commerce Act of 1926, the industry was broadly unregulated, but then the Department of Commerce started overseeing this trade. This same Act, among other things, sets also the ethics for aircraft, air traffic control and pilot credentials.

In the 1950s the world witnessed another revolution in the industry, namely the introduction of jets, which permitted faster air travel at a higher altitude, plus more fuel efficiency than their propellor-mounted competition. This allowed airlines to increase the number of routes on offing with a considerable reduction in travel times.

A deregulation of the industry in 1978 helped to increase competition more while driving down price tags.

Following the increase in demands, travel, commercialisation and overall progress in various sectors, the digital transformation that the travel industry has endured was colossal, and it is an ongoing and updated phenomenon.

What`s the Current Situation?

Like every other business, the aviation industry must be prepared for all types of circumstances life can throw at it. A case in point as we had witnessed few years back now, the global pandemic, which was unexpected and brought many trades on their knees.

Aviation suffered during COVID-19 as people stayed put in their countries, obeying their government`s instructions to limit the spread, while others didn`t travel if it wasn`t really necessary.

However, humans are tenacious creatures who tend to learn even from misadventures, so they adapted their business structures to enable continuation, progress, and safeguard their trade from any further future critical occasions, limiting recession or depression within the industry.

More airline companies are switching to digital not only to benefit from it but also to weather any storm which could brew up, aiming to ultimately come out from it stronger.

Aviation industry embraced various changes, the adoption and introduction of online booking services, mobile apps, automated check-in, e-tickets and also Artificial Intelligence (AI) like chatbots on websites. All these options have enabled us to conveniently book a flight in no time.

Constant Investment

If your company can continuously invest in innovation, it is laying an excellent robust ground for growth, while it has a greater chance of survival in a competitive market.

Companies from various segments are regularly investing in digital transformation technologies consequently improving customer experience, creating new revenue streams and enhancing efficiency in the process.

A study by IDC states that worldwide spending on digital transformation and services will reach $2.3 trillion in 2023, up from an assessed $1.3 trillion in 2018, representing a composite annual growth rate of 17.1%.

Aviation Digital Progress

Throughout the years, the airline industry has been transformed by several digital advancements made, leading to improved security, proficiency, and expediency for passengers.

Below we list some key digital developments which have been implemented:

  • Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) – these are devices like smartphones or tablets which pilots can utilise to access flight information and manuals.
  • Automated Check-in and Boarding – via service kiosks or mobile devices, nowadays passengers can easily and efficiently access to process their check-in and book their flight, reducing wait times.
  • Advanced Navigation and Communication Systems – Safety has been improved thanks to GPS, satellite communications and other advanced systems allowing pilots to communicate with air traffic control more proficiently, also reducing delays.
  • Maintenance Management Software – Modern aircraft systems assist in monitoring and generating alerts when or if maintenance is required, decreasing downtime and also improving safety.
  • In-flight Entertainment and Connectivity – Today Wi-Fi is everywhere even in the skies, with many airline companies offering it to their fliers, together with on-board entertainment like setback screens comprising of movies and TV shows. However, passengers can use their own devices, with the airline providing connectivity options for them to keep their battery juice flowing, topped, and charged.

Progress vs Environment

Digital transformation can also assist in diminishing carbon footprint in a world which is emphasising the growing alarm of global warming.

Improving ground operations and reducing use of fuel while flying are two sectors in which tech can assist. Optimised aircraft routes using AI algorithms can reduce fuel consumption.

In Conclusion

By now we presume that you absorbed enough know-how to appreciate the advancements made in the aviation industry following the switch to digital transformation.

It is very important to keep in mind though that efficient and customer-focused digital transformation is a journey, not a destination, as it is never done or completed, but always evolving also in tandem with businesses` progress and demands.

A recent study by MarketsandMarkets reported that the smart airports market will grow from $14.9 billion in 2020 to $22.6 billion by 2025.

An ever-changing digital landscape will keep the airline industry in a favourable position, enabling it to continue to advance and prosper, while staying abreast with state-of-the-art software tendencies and fast resolutions.  

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