2024, and the word on everyone’s mind is digitalisation. What was once a buzzword floating around in the air within the aerospace industry is now rapidly becoming a reality.
Globally, there’s a refreshing change occurring – one which appears to bring the promising winds of positive innovation with it.
For instance, at the end of last year, the UK government announced its commitment to an investment of £975 million for aerospace. The funds will go on to support manufacturing, zero-emission vehicles, zero-carbon aircraft material, and overall energy efficiency.
In addition, a report by BAE System’s Digital Intelligence business found that 93% of defence and aerospace leaders agree that defence will require increased integrations across domains. Furthermore, the insights uncovered the need for greater levels of multi-domain integration across land, sea, air, cyber, and space to reduce uncertainty and volatility.
So, as we prepare for this shifting landscape, let’s explore what digitalisation has in store for the aerospace industry.
Why is digitalisation important for aerospace engineering?
You might say the answer to this question is not rocket science. While the answer may not be as complex, aerospace engineering is. Aerospace engineering is not only mind-boggling but time-consuming and costly. One minor mistake can be highly costly.
Hence, by embracing technological advancements, the aerospace engineering industry can optimise processes and reduce costs. On the other hand, companies at the forefront of digitalisation can gain a competitive edge in the industry while meeting customer needs.
Benefits of digitalisation within the aerospace industry
There’s no doubt that upcoming technological advances will bring ample benefits to the aerospace industry, revolutionising everything from materials to mechanics and operations. With that being said, here’s a glance at the benefits digitalisation is anticipated to bring to the realms of aerospace.
1. Increase productivity and efficiency.
You’ve probably guessed it – the first benefit digitalisation promises to deliver is the opportunity for us to complete tasks efficiently with the support of automated systems and technologies.
2. Collect real-time data
Imagine taking the guessing game out of areas that need improving. Digitalisation offers manufacturers and operators the opportunity to collect real-time data so that they can have more control over information and proactively carry out necessary maintenance.
3. Reduced costs
Cost savings are at the forefront in most industries. Hence, solutions that offer the opportunity to reduce costs and do the job right are like a welcome breeze.
Thus, through the use of real-time data and analytics, we can proactively identify potential problems – allowing for timely, early interventions to prevent issues before they arise.
4. Enhanced safety standards
As the saying goes – prevention is better than treatment. Hence, by fixing problems before they arise with the benefits of technological advancements safety standards can be significantly improved.
5. Reduce uncertainty and volatility.
As mentioned earlier, as per BAE’s report, multi-domain integration reduces uncertainty and enables teams to respond more effectively to grey zone threats and cyber-attacks.
Upcoming digital trends to expect
All the benefits of digitalisation have our pulse racing! So, without further ado, let’s explore the trends expected to revolutionise the aerospace industry in 2024.
1. Artificial intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence – friend or foe? While concerns fly high that AI will take over jobs. Let’s look at the flip side and consider AI as a friend who’s here to work beside us to help improve tasks. The primary aim of AI within the aerospace industry is to
- Automate manual tasks.
- Reduce human error.
- Discover new patterns and relations to provide insight into data.
- Handle complex problems and provide a solution in a shorter time.
- Aid in critical decision-making.
- Optimise customer service.
- Detect and mitigate cyber threats.
- Enable predictive maintenance to forecast equipment failure before it happens.
An example of a company already applying AI is Beacon AI. A start-up in which pilots work with an AI co-pilot to minimise human errors and enhance safety.
2. Augmented reality (AR)
Taking things to the next level, Augmented Reality. The adoption of AR in the aerospace sector will enable teams to
- Improve manufacturing processes with efficiency and accuracy.
- Change the nature of employee training with virtual reality simulators.
- Improve the process of aircraft inspection and maintenance.
With growing concerns over climate change, the next goal for the aerospace sector is to reduce its carbon footprint. Technological advances will aid in achieving this goal with the use of alternative fuels and all-electronic flight technology.
In Australia, we’re already seeing such advances in action, with Adelaide-based company – Bader Aero launching its first commercially produced electric aircraft in 2023. While in Europe, Maeve Aerospace, a European innovator of sustainable aircraft design, manufactures hybrid-electric aircraft.
4. 3D printing (Additive Manufacturing)
From its humble beginnings in the 1980s in Japan – discovered by Hideo Kodama, 3D printing is now becoming a global phenomenon, with the aerospace industry a significant adopter of the technology.
Within the aerospace industry, we use this additive manufacturing technology alongside CAD for rapid prototyping and implementation of repairs to metallic structures. And while this everyday tool is already a team favourite, we look forward to what the upcoming advances have in store!
5. Advanced Satellite Technology
The growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) will further promote the increase of satellite technology. We can expect to see a trending rise in the following areas.
- Applications of satellite IoT.
- Very High Throughput Satellites (VHTS) that send data at the speed of several terabytes per second.
- Small satellites will replay the large ones.
Does the challenge of achieving resilience in complex supply chains sound familiar to you? The good news is that this is where Blockchain will be your best friend. Blockchain promises to provide immediate access and visibility to data stored on an immutable ledger that is only accessible by network members with permission to access. In turn, this enables manufacturers to improve supply chain efficiency and reduce associated risks through secure, traceable records.
These are just some of the trends, amongst a few others, we can expect to encounter as we swiftly move forward into the year. Only time will tell which of these will fly high and which will remain grounded.
Work with forward-thinking aerospace engineers – Quartek.
If you’re looking for highly skilled, engaged, and innovative engineers to lift your project off the ground – contact our team today!