Air traffic management primarily entails the control of traffic in and around airport terminals, airports, and airspace. As per the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the total number of air travelers is expected to reach around 4.0 billion by 2024. The growing number suggests medium-term challenges and the need to develop new technologies adapted to the sector. According to Inkwood Research, the global air traffic management market is projected to record a CAGR of 5.57% during the forecast period, 2023-2032, majorly attributed to the emergence of advanced technologies and ATM infrastructure modernization.
In this regard, here are the 3 tech trends expected to shape the future of the air traffic management industry:
Integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence (AI) has surged over the past decade due to the increasing computing power, the collection & storage of voluminous data, and the development of resource-consuming & complex algorithms and system architectures.
Similarly, the use of AI in aviation could play a central role in several areas:
- Optimum Sectorization: AI can offer considerable support in dynamic airspace management. It can enable the handling of a large amount of data and complexity. Also, it can improve airspace design by redefining sector boundaries that reflect the evolution of traffic to facilitate excellent airspace management.
- Remote Towers: The incorporation of AI into pattern recognition can be used to recognize parking positions, stands, and holding points or alert the controller to particular situations. Primarily, AI can enable the efficiency and safety of air navigation service providers (ANSPs) through varied tools and systems. Accordingly, it can enhance capacity by supplementing decision-making, improve safety by managing abnormal traffic, perceive flow changes, and address environmental issues through flight plans and trajectories optimization.
- Demand Prediction: The integration of artificial intelligence can help improve the predictability and accuracy of traffic demand. This will make the process of demand and capacity balancing (DCB) more efficient.
- 4D Trajectory: AI contributes to enhanced prediction and supplements decision-making on specific operations like the go-around by integrating airport activities (delays & connections) and take-off information.
- Flight Plans Optimization: AI algorithms will help propose the best trajectories for aircraft and contribute to minimizing greenhouse gas emissions by incorporating weather, traffic data, numerous flight plans, etc.
Furthermore, a number of automated tools are already deployed to assist air traffic controllers. For instance, AI is being used at Heathrow International Airport to replace the views of the aircraft traffic controller when the tower’s vision is lost due to harsh weather.
Hardware is the largest revenue-generating offering, with a revenue share of 42.79% in 2022.
Adoption of the Trajectory Based Operations (TBO)
Trajectory Based Operations (TBO) uses the flight trajectory of every in-service aircraft in four dimensions (4D), time, altitude, longitude, and latitude, to perceive/know their 4D positions at any given linear time. The data is then used for efficient airspace management. This method helps plan and manage flights strategically by using time-based management (TBM).
Further, TBO will increase the airport and airspace throughput, predictability, and flexibility through performance-based navigation (PBN) and time-based management (TBM) procedures. For instance, Trajectory Based Operations (TBO) has been instrumental in minimizing capacity-to-demand imbalances in the National Airspace System (NAS) in the United States. In addition, it facilitates air traffic controllers to boost aircraft movement between origin-destination airports.
Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B)
As per the International Air Transport Association (IATA), global air traffic is set to surge in the next few years. As a result, there is a growing need to ensure enhanced aviation safety standards. Similarly, the rising fleet traffic needs precise monitoring and controlling. For instance, radar coverage. Even today, vast stripes of the Hudson Bay in Canada and the Pacific Ocean near Australia are not under any radar coverage.
Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast systems (ADS-B) is a technology that enables the visibility of remote aircraft on air traffic control (ATC) screens for such swathes that are not under the radar surveillance. This is done through the tactical deployment of low-cost ADS-B receiving stations. ADS-B is used across aircraft-to-aircraft and aircraft-to-ATS applications.
As per our analysis, Air Traffic Flow Management is the fastest-growing domain, expected to register a CAGR of 5.73% by 2032.
An ADS-B-enabled aircraft can ascertain its location on GPS, which is further broadcasted at rapid intervals to ADS-B receiving stations alongside other information like flight number, velocity, and altitude. These ground stations transmit this data to ATCs for precision aircraft tracking. ADS-B encompasses advanced technologies like receivers, transmitters, and space satellites which help deliver highly-specific information regarding aircraft speed and location.
Additionally, the benefits of ADS-B include the following:
- Well-timed and precise surveillance information
- Prediction of pilots’ and flight crew’s relative location in comparison to other aircraft in the vicinity
- Displays both ground and airborne traffic
- Provides real-time information and an integrated surveillance picture that can be shared during instances where aircraft deviates from their assigned flight paths
- Low-cost implementation compared to existing digital technologies
Air Traffic Management Market: Potential Impact of Disruptive Technologies
Air Traffic Management (ATM) is a crucial element of the air transport value chain. Substantial technological advancements in digitalization, communication, and satellites, have enabled potentially disruptive innovations for ATM, like corresponding centralizations of some of its services, virtual centers, remote towers for air traffic control (ATC), sector-less ATM, flight-centric operations, etc. As a result, stakeholders are set to utilize these novel technologies to address airspace capacity storages, optimize aircraft trajectories, and boost decision-making. Besides, with the air traffic management market embarking on a digital transformation journey, such technologies will help minimize human workload and surge human capabilities.
By Akhil Nair
Which country offers lucrative growth opportunities in the global air traffic management market?
China offers lucrative growth opportunities in the global air traffic management market.
Which are the leading players in the global air traffic management market?
Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and L3Harris Technologies are among the leading players in the global air traffic management market.