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Imagining the Future of Aviation

Feb 27, 2019
Stacy Honda, Marketing Manager

Future of Aviation

Aviation has come a long way in the last century. From the first flight across the Atlantic in 1919 to breaking the sound barrier in 1947, the industry continues to grow and improve.

What does the future of the industry look like? UA CEO Paul DeHerrera and Elbit Systems V.P. of Commercial Aviation, Dror Yahav, share their thoughts on what the future of aviation will look like in 20 years and what it will take to get there.

Disruption #1: Avionics Will Be More Automated.

Future flight decks will be so technologically modern, practically anyone will be able to operate future aircraft.

Dror: Avionics will be more user-friendly and simpler. In 20 years’, we will see the flight deck easier to operate and more intuitive because of the increasing demand and shortage of well-trained pilots. Simplified avionics is a solution to this issue. Primary flight controls will be easier compared to today’s complex systems.

Paul: The simplification of avionics is important because the future flight deck will most likely be operated by only one pilot.

Disruption #2: Bringing VR into the Flight Deck.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) elements in the flight deck will play a key role in simplifying the flight deck or may even replace it.

Dror: Flight information will be seen with elements of VR in flight deck displays, mostly employed via sight tracking and voice command. Tasks that have been done in the past by two pilots can be completed visually by only one.

Paul: Imagine sitting in the flight deck, visually looking at a dial out of reach that you need to turn, that dial is highlighted and using a control in your hand you will be able to tune the visually selected dial. You won’t have to physically turn the dial, you will be able to visually select it and adjust it with one control.

Disruption #3: The Role of AI.

Dror: Everything will be more automated. The pilot will be more of a manager when deciding and AI will automatically take into consideration the fuel, conditions of the landing area, and weather. There will be more ability to control the flight deck with autonomous functions in the event the pilot is incapacitated. This will be a focus for UA in the future.

Paul: In the future, I see AI providing automatic routing for the pilot. It will sequence you in because it knows the current air traffic and will integrate you into a flight plan optimized for traffic and weather. It will tell you, versus you telling it. Pilots must consider a lot of information before making the simplest of decisions and AI will soon start to play a major role in this process allowing a single pilot to operate an aircraft. AI will be the co-captain.

Dror: Integrated avionics is the key. To make this future a reality, the industry will need to further integrate avionics. Every part of the aircraft must be integrated - working together in sync and sharing information. All the functions will need to work together in a way that provides the necessary information at the right time to the right avionics components.

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