Once the preserve of academics and chess-playing robots, artificial intelligence is starting to crop up all over the aviation sector. Tom Batchelor reports on its varied uses and the improvements the technology is driving
From putting aircraft on uncongested, turbulence-free flight paths to ensuring engine maintenance checks don’t miss a single hairline crack, artificial intelligence (AI) is fast becoming a vital tool for airline operators. From Airbus and Boeing to General Electric and Garmin, major aerospace players are moving towards AI and machine learning to save time and money while enhancing safety. Across the industry, the deployment of AI – technology that appears to mirror human performance by learning and adapting to complex information – is being hailed as a major milestone comparable to the introduction of jet engines in the 1950s and fly-by-wire in the 1980s.
One major European airline whose industry partnerships have put it at the forefront of the technology is easyJet. The low-cost carrier recently signed a deal with Dutch company Aiir Innovations to optimise its engine maintenance, using AI to speed up borescope inspections and cut out errors by providing automated damage detection. After Aiir Innovations software has analysed borescope footage taken from inside the engine, multiple airline and maintenance parties can view and comment on any suspected defects via an online platform.