In recent years, the aviation industry has been recovering from the impact of the pandemic that hit the travel sector at the beginning of the decade. Now, passenger flows are skyrocketing and the requirements to handle the growth need to be met. That’s why we’re witnessing a true airline industry digital transformation, with so many airports adopting new airport technology to adapt and outperform the changes the sector is facing.
The demand for advanced airport technologies that can assist both passengers and airport operators shows continuous growth: the smart airports market is projected to reach a $3.15 billion value by 2028, which makes it an attractive field for growing a business.
So, if you want to make your first steps in bringing digital transformation to airport operations, it is your chance to get some basic knowledge of the industry.
We’ve prepared a guide on why and how people utilize advanced technology in airports, as well as some real examples for your inspiration.
In its name, a smart airport resembles other “smart” notions and therefore implies using modern tech solutions such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, data analysis, and others for improving airport operation efficiency and passenger satisfaction.
What is called airline digital transformation finds its manifestation in every kind of airport operation, whether these are landside or airside operations, payment and finance control, or information management.
Generally, there are several main reasons why it is said that technology will shape the future of airports. First, an ever-increasing flow of passengers requires airport operators to find ways to manage the never-ending lines and accelerate all operations and processes.
Second, tech-driven smart airports have more chances to meet passengers’ expectations, increase their level of satisfaction with improved services, and thus drive customer loyalty, bringing more sales and aircraft revenue.
Finally, the current level of technological advances, including cutting-edge biometrics, scanners, and trackers can significantly improve airport services that cannot be compared with traditional airports.
Technologically advanced airports are often described as next-generation or innovative airports. But in which way do they become innovative, exactly?
In general, airport digital transformation can bring benefits in these areas of airport operations:
- Productivity – Airport operations management software boosts efficiency at every stage, as it gives access to real-time data collection and processing and allows automation of a range of tasks, among other things.
- Expenses – As a result of streamlined and optimized work and resource management, the costs of airport operations reduce significantly, which, additionally, compensates for the development spending.
- Security – Among all airport software solutions, surveillance and security software often ranks first, as this aspect accounts for the lion’s share of passengers’ safety and overall experience.
- Demand optimization – Tech-driven smart airports are equipped with software that allows you to automate entry controls. In this way, you can take over the ever-increasing passenger flow.
- Experience – Seamless airport operations can provide a flawless passenger experience from their first check-in to retrieving their luggage after the flight, which can turn them into regular visitors to your airport.
- Sustainability – Airport operations solutions directly or indirectly aim at reducing the carbon footprint of airports.
As already mentioned, there are as many technology applications in smart airports as scopes of airline operations. Let’s take a look at the most common areas where smart solutions for airports can have the most powerful impact.
1. Queue management
Such tech solutions as self-service facilities and AI trackers find their best application in smart airports, where queues have always been a huge problem and have brought a lot of inconveniences.
Generally, there are two main aspects of queue management in smart airports:
- Self-service – Thanks to self-check-in stations equipped with precise biometric technology such as facial recognition or fingerprint scans, passengers have an opportunity to finish the check-in process in a matter of seconds, without human assistance.
- Passenger flow tracking – Separate AI-driven queue management systems can analyze the dynamics of the passenger flow, predict its changes, and help find an optimal solution for management. For instance, you can allocate resources and staff to the checkpoints according to the current situation, so that the procedures take place seamlessly.
2. Safety & maintenance
It’s needless to say how much safety during the flight is actually important. Not only that, millions of passengers around the world face flight delays caused by inappropriate monitoring of the technical conditions of the aircraft. Here, real-time and preventive smart maintenance comes into play.
- Real-time protection – A complex smart monitoring system for real-time protection can track the conditions of the aircraft, including engines and critical systems inside the plane during the flight, as well as inform and guide passengers in abnormal situations.
- Predictive maintenance – This kind of airport operations solution gives airport operators a chance to resolve any technical issue in a plane before it actually makes itself felt during the flight. Smart sensors are placed in every part of the aircraft to spot any malfunctions and notify the workers about them.
3. Automated communication & feedback
When it comes to communication with airport workers, passengers get extremely demanding, as they want to see their questions or concerns resolved in minutes.
Moreover, airport operators need to react promptly to all issues and concerns the passengers face. There is a range of airline software solutions that can assist you in managing direct or indirect communication with clients.
- Advanced messaging – With modern communication technologies, primarily AI chatbots, the task of getting in touch with passengers becomes a piece of cake, as the software can take over most interactions that managers are faced with and provide passengers with answers to standard questions in several seconds.
- AI-powered feedback – Artificial intelligence is a well-known tool for gathering and analyzing information, which can be extremely helpful when it comes to studying passenger behavior and experiences. This data can help you spot the gaps in services that have a negative impact on clients’ satisfaction.
4. Airport security
At airports, in all that hustle, passengers become extremely vulnerable to thefts, and the airports themselves to terrorist attacks and other dangerous situations. Luckily, smart airport hard- and software makes these cases predictable and preventable.
- Identification & surveillance – Facial recognition technologies, iris and fingerprint scans, advanced cameras, sensors, and IoT devices are among the most effective solutions for dealing with potential threats at airports. These solutions can assist airline workers in recognizing wanted criminals, keeping an eye on the airport premises, and noticing abnormal behaviors.
- Cybersecurity – At airports, passengers always share their sensitive information and deal with electronic payments. That’s why cybersecurity and data protection becomes a priority for companies of all sizes. In particular, advanced cybersecurity technologies help prevent phishing, malware, and other digital attacks.
5. Sustainable resource management
Energy efficiency is another field of application for smart airport technologies, especially when considering the fact that the aviation industry is a major contributor to carbon emissions.
Modern smart airport solutions aim at optimizing consumption and waste both inside airport premises and during flights.
- Consumption monitoring – Recent developments in the fields of alternative energy sources, resource management systems, smart lighting, temperature and air quality tracking, energy consumption and fuel efficiency monitoring, etc. are helpful for reaching a balance between passengers’ comfort and adequate consumption of any kind of resource.
- Waste management – Airports benefit from waste management solutions in different aspects. The global automation of most procedures cuts potential waste in the form of checks, physical tickets, non-sustainable advertisement campaigns, etc. Also, recycling programs contribute to minimizing waste and running environmentally friendly businesses.
In the smart airports market, there are already some examples of successful implementation of airport operations management software.
The great names of the aviation industry represent vivid examples of aircraft businesses that maintain their status by keeping up with technological advancement and experimenting with the latest solutions on the market.
Self-service and preventive maintenance systems: Delta
Delta Air Lines has been demonstrating huge progress in implementing AI airport software in several fields of operations. The airport adopted facial recognition for almost instant check-ins and biometric data scans for luggage management.
Furthermore, Delta uses predictive maintenance systems to prevent any technical issues, which led to a significantly lower percentage of cancellations.
Automation: London Heathrow Airport
British Airways has tested guide robots, an airport navigation technology. The airport implemented this solution to assist millions of passengers passing through its terminals each year to find their way to the amenities they need.
The robotic assistant can answer passengers’ questions in several languages and knows the airport “by heart”, and thus can tirelessly guide an enormous number of passengers every day.
Sustainable flights: Air France
Air France became a role model for adopting airport operations solutions aimed at reducing emissions during flights. The company leveraged the power of artificial intelligence to track and optimize fuel consumption.
The software analyzes data about flights and spots inefficient fuel usage, offering opportunities for solving these issues. The model was further implemented by a range of other airlines.
Whichever airport technology or set of tech solutions you choose, there are several things you need to keep in mind before, while, and after implementing them in your project.
- Hire the right service provider. When talking about airport management software, arguably the most important part of embodying your idea is to find the right development team. That is, it’s paramount that the skills and resources your team possesses meets the requirement of a project of such a scale.
- Test the solution beforehand. Before launching the chosen airport software at full capacity, make sure to look closely at its performance at other facilities. Also, you can launch a test version of the solution at your airport to assess its work in real-world conditions.
- Start small. To make sure that the solution you are going to adopt will definitely improve your airport operations management, you need to first implement a limited version of the software. When you see the first positive outcomes, you can extend the project with confidence.
- Educate your staff. When you adopt new technologies, not only do they change the workflow, but the employees of the company should also be able to utilize the software correctly and efficiently. That’s why it’s important to organize workshops and help your coworkers master innovations, reaching their harmonious coexistence.
- Estimate the performance. It’s important to measure and track the value of the implemented solution. Define and utilize relevant metrics and indicators to see whether the chosen airport software solutions are doing their job in the right way, and get involved when the performance is starting to go lower than expected.
The aviation industry has become one of those that has benefited from the all-embracing digital transformation. From fingerprint check-in to robot guides, airline operations solutions help airports work seamlessly and ensure that passengers enjoy their trip from beginning to end. The future of airports is going to be automated, well-informed, and without delays.
If you want to contribute to the digital transformation in the airline industry, the Eastern Peak team is here for you to assist you at every stage of your project. Contact us to find out how we can work together to bring your ideas to life.