Aviation technology is a broad field that covers various aspects of the equipment, hardware, and software used in flight operations, flight training, aircraft maintenance, aircraft security, and airports.
Technology developed for the aviation industry is often more advanced as compared to other industries. Over the years, there has been a wide range of technological developments and innovations which have been integrated into the aviation industry. These advancements have been aimed at enhancing the functionality, ease of operation, and safety of the aviation industry.
Future Developments in Aviation Technology
Regardless of the profound achievements recorded in the aviation industry, aviation experts and scientists continue to research and work tirelessly to seek new and diverse ways in which they can continue to develop the technologies within the aviation industry by bringing innovative ideas and building on existing technologies or redesigning current aircraft structures. With the implementation of these new technologies the aviation industry can be improved tremendously in the areas of flight services, efficiency of operations, development of the aircraft and airports, and most importantly, making air travel safer for everyone.
It is anticipated that self-directed flights will become a normal occurrence within the next few decades. The aviation industry has witnessed a notable number of crashes which were mostly caused by human errors and automated flights can greatly reduce those numbers. Regardless of the existence of crashes caused by autopilot systems, it is projected that automated flights will be more safe and secure. Although automated flights will likely not completely replace human pilots in the cockpit, automated systems can be configured to analyze various cockpit situations and use that information to add the corrections necessary to avoid crashes. There is also a future for advanced automated systems in the air traffic control systems to increasingly take on larger and more complex tasks and shift certain responsibilities away from human decision making in the control tower.
3D printing is also making headway in the aviation manufacturing process. Boeing prints a wing trim tool for the new 777 using 3D printing. In the past, manufacturing a tool like this with traditional methods would take several months. However, with the advancement in 3D printing, it is now possible in 30 hours. It is no doubt that as 3D printing technology develops further it will make the manufacturing processes for aviation products and aircraft parts much more efficient.
To limit air and noise pollution caused by typical aircraft engines, experts are advancing research on alternative fuels which can be more efficient and cleaner when burned. For commercial operators, the possibilities of renewable biofuels are starting to become more apparent. A small number of airlines are beginning to blend biofuels with Jet-A on certain routes. The biofuels greatly reduce carbon emissions creating an overall cleaner more sustainable environment. Technology development is crucial to increase the availability of biofuels for a larger number of flights and in modifications to the aircraft engines to become more eco-friendly and burn less fuel while maintaining strong aircraft performance.
Battery Powered Flights
Battery-powered engines or battery-assisted flights are also slowly becoming more popular among certain aircraft. With improved battery technology and the use of deep cycle batteries, batteries can now sustain more power for a longer time, potentially making this type of power more viable for many smaller aircraft.
This can be very practical for a large number of general aviation aircraft, flight school training aircraft, and commuter flights because they are typically no longer than two hours and usually maintain a fairly close distance to a base airport for battery replacement or recharging purposes.