Predicting the Future of Digital Aviation

Predicting the Future of Digital Aviation

Issue 7

When we think of the digital transformation that is underway in the aviation industry today, there are incredible opportunities for savvy and innovative manufacturers. That is why the experts at Boeing Global Services keep an eye toward the future as we better understand where technology and data are leading the aviation industry. As today’s smart technologies continue to reinvent business models, companies, and even entire industries, it’s evident that the aerospace industry can greatly benefit from the advantages of a dynamic business transformation.

One of the key considerations for aerospace companies as they look to this transformation is how to identify and capitalize on opportunities to either increase margins through finding new efficiencies in processes such as long, costly development lifecycles, or to look at new business models that allow them to expand into higher margin strategies and services.

The new frontier for many aerospace companies is digital. It becomes a question of how adept these companies can be at transforming information they currently gather or could acquire from their aircraft, engines or other systems and then converting that data into insights—combined with their industry expertise—to make it actionable. That is what makes a digital strategy so valuable for those in the aerospace industry: they can differentiate through digital services as opposed to relying on pure innovation in engineering or science.

What does it mean to be digital?

Part of becoming a digital company means using technology as both an offensive and defensive business strategy. Think about “digital disruptors” to some well-established industries and how they have forever changed the landscape.

·         Transportation – Uber

·         Hotels – Airbnb

·         Shopping – Amazon

·         Movies and Entertainment – Netflix

·         Music – Apple iTunes

All of these companies completely shook up the status quo in their industry, but they haven’t been content with their initial strategy. They all have continued to innovate with experiments such as Uber Eats and Airbnb Experiences. This type of mindset will be key for top airlines in the aviation industry in the next decade.  

Take a look at these top 5 emerging technologies in aviation in 2017 and the percentage of airlines with major R&D programs in these fields.


What was once only the dream of science fiction movies now may not be too far away: we may soon see holographic displays in the flight deck and in air traffic control rooms, or robots piloting commercial aircraft. Advances in sensor technology, computing and artificial intelligence are making human pilots less necessary than ever in the cockpit. Already, government agencies are experimenting with replacing the co-pilot, perhaps even both pilots on cargo planes, with robots or remote operators.

When you think of what it takes to be digital, the goal might be to use technology to do the following:

·         Engage your customers through innovative products, services, and immersive experiences

·         Empower your employees to improve collaboration, morale, and overall team effectiveness

·         Optimize your operations and improve outcomes across the entire value chain

·         Transform your products by harnessing data insights from today’s product to build tomorrow’s solutions

It’s clear that advanced technology, robotics, and data will help shape the future of commercial aviation. The companies who plan ahead, experiment and innovate will become the new digital disruptors.

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