how automation is changing the aviation industry
How Automation is Changing the Aviation Industry
Automation is rapidly changing how numerous industries operate, replacing manual processes with quick and enhanced automated systems that can bring about increased efficiency, quality, and safety. The aviation industry is no different, and automation seeks to revolutionize processes ranging from passenger handling and flight planning to the actual control of the aircraft itself. As automation is quickly expanding throughout the aviation sector, it can be highly beneficial to understand its current use and future projections.
In general, automation refers to the implementation of control systems and technologies that seek to replace the manual labor and actions provided by humans. Automation can come in various forms and degrees, and continued development of such systems over the years has resulted in increased implementation and capabilities. As the airline industry always seeks new ways to improve safety and efficiency, automation presents an avenue to increase such factors for the benefit of processes and passengers.
One of the most common implementations of aviation automation that many are already familiar with is the aircraft autopilot system. The job of piloting an aircraft is rigorous, requiring the pilot to operate the aircraft, handle a plethora of controls, communicate with air traffic control, and consistently monitor all operating conditions and control system functionalities. Handling such flight procedures can be exhausting over time, and fatigue is a quick way to lead to danger. As such, autopilot systems have been developed for the means of reducing the burdens placed on the pilot, allowing them to better focus on the most important controls and aspects of flight to maintain safety from liftoff to landing.
The aircraft wheel and brake system is also fitted with various automated controls, a common example being the anti-skid system. With the use of the anti-skid system, braking pressure may automatically be controlled and applied to the aircraft brake system so that skids and lock-ups are avoided. The auto-throttle system is another form of automated control, allowing for engine thrust to be automatically managed based on various engine parameters and situational conditions.
Another way in which aircraft automation has improved over the years is through the implementation and continued advancements of the Flight Management System (FMS). With the FMS and its connection to various aircraft components, many flight tasks have been automated such as determining flight positions, managing sensors, providing guidance, and more. Automation has also replaced much of the manual control for flight surfaces, removing conventional aircraft control cable assemblies for more powerful and automatic systems. In order to determine and execute changes without heavy reliance on manual input, automated systems will often utilize information fed to them by the altimeter, aircraft GPS, and other various instruments and systems.
Air traffic control is another section of the aviation industry facing large amounts of automation, often coming in the form of automated solutions that ease the workload of air traffic controllers while they communicate and monitor various aircraft. While radars and automated warning systems have already been established for many ATC operations, the introduction of new remote digital towers in certain locations seek to provide live images at great distances for increased visibility and management. Furthermore, other technologies have also been proposed for replacing control tower assistants, allowing for various operations to be streamlined for safety and efficiency.