Top 5 Aerospace Trends to Watch
With software technology advancing at a rapid speed, and airframe components becoming more and more sophisticated, the aerospace sector is rife with changes. How companies choose to handle these changes – along with the many that lie ahead – will shape the aerospace industry for years to come.
While the introduction of a new aircraft is always the most publicised event in this sector, there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes. Just as important as a new piece of equipment is how that aircraft communicates with other systems, how it collects data, and how it travels in space. The current economic climate is also a major factor – influencing how companies decide to invest their profits and how well they set themselves up for success in the future.
We’ve assembled a list of the top five aerospace trends to watch.
1. Software technology is advancing
Software technology is constantly being taken to new levels. More than ever, software is responsible for a growing percentage of the work being done on board an aircraft. One of the most important jobs that relies heavily on software is maintaining safety during landing. The landing procedure currently used by commercial aircraft is a stair-step process, where the plane checks in with the control tower at each step to maintain safety. Now, strides are being made to monitor the exact position of the aircraft through each moment of the landing. Eventually, the smoother descent will cut two minutes off the flight time and save roughly 100 gallons of gas per flight, which means major savings for the airlines.
2. Low oil prices give airlines the choice to wait to replace equipment or get a headstart
Oil prices have remained consistently lower than average since 2014. Predictably, these lower oil prices have led to increased profits for airlines. The downside of this trend, both for the environment and the future of many companies, is that airlines have less of an impetus to replace existing aircraft with newer, more fuel-efficient models. Airlines that do choose to invest in new aircraft will have a jump-start once fuel prices inevitably go back up, whereas others will see a dip in profits as they wait to catch up to their competitors.
3. Newly developed aircraft are becoming lighter.
Airlines that are choosing to upgrade to lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft have better choices than ever before. The newest models, including the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350, are built using new lightweight composite materials, allowing them to be up to 20% more fuel efficient than competing aircraft. In addition to saving the airlines money, the newest planes are able to fly at a higher altitude, which means less turbulence for passengers. Other features that focus on passenger comfort include increasing air pressure in the cabin and humidifying the air to create a better cabin atmosphere
4. New competitors are emerging in Asia.
Due to more competitive pricing, many aircraft manufacturers and suppliers are moving to Asia. In addition, many major airlines have eliminated their maintenance and repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities in-house and shifted them to Singapore, China and India. Equipment manufacturers should seriously consider investing in these centres in order to remain in-the-loop.
5. Aging infrastructure is affecting industry growth potential
Demand for flights is increasing in emerging markets, including China and India. But if the industry wants to take on the new air traffic, infrastructure has some major catching up to do. Airports across the world and the air traffic control equipment that go along with them are vastly outdated. Governments need to address the lack of available airspace, as well as the technology in their airports, in order to accommodate growth in the sector.