In the fight for revenue, airports and airlines have promised us a more convenient, customized passenger experience. Major airports are using digital and automation technologies to expedite baggage handling, and they are improving wayfinding with digital displays and directions delivered to your smartphone.
Increasingly, airports will use Wi-Fi access points to identify optimal locations for concessions, vending machines and retailers.
There are also infrastructure efficiencies in the works that are not so apparent to travelers.
According to International Airport Transport Association (IATA) projections, the United States will spend between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion on global airport infrastructure by 2030. This investment will help the industry meet demand and improve operations and safety.
Just as data analytics and connectivity are transforming the efficiency of aircraft and airspace management, airports are becoming more internet-enabled, functioning as self-contained cities. This requires tremendous collaboration between disciplines that were once separate specialties.
Our College of Engineering is preparing civil engineers to become “internet-enabled designers” who will go beyond traditional master plans to contribute to digital master plans that integrate air traffic, security monitoring, closed circuit TV, private land mobile radio and public Wi-Fi.
Their work will encompass using the cloud and collaboration tools, sensors and processors that will improve airside ground operations: cargo, baggage, fuel, catering and de-icing.
New designs will apply green materials and energy-efficient options that create — or re-create — airports with minimal environmental impact and maximum sustainability. To minimize cost and risk, our engineers will work with new simulation and software tools to visualize and evaluate infrastructure design and assess key performance factors.
As a university that is focused on aviation from the top down and the ground up, we tap the expertise in all of our colleges — Aviation, Arts & Sciences, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence — to give our students multidisciplinary insight and collaborative opportunities that prepare them to integrate solutions in an increasingly connected industry.
Our alumni likewise lead the technology curve. Many of you are the change agents who are directing the digital transformation of aviation/aerospace, as we know (or knew) it. Your successes create nodes of connectivity for our students to follow.
P. Barry Butler, Ph.D.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University