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Rapid evolution of electric air taxis and generative AI

With the arrival of generative artificial intelligence (AI) in 2023, the technology has reached the top of the agendas of airports and airlines, with 97% of them planning to develop the technology, which has completely diverted the spotlight from the Metaverse, which was the focus for 2022. Similarly, Urban Air Mobility (UAM) has received increasing interest from the airline industry, with the first flights expected to take off in 2024. As a result, investment in space from all parties stakeholders (including OEM, infrastructure, and systems) is expected to accelerate from USD 5 billion in 2022 to USD 28 billion in 2030. These were some of the key findings from SITA’s updated “Meet the Megatrends” report, which highlights the innovation landscape in rapid change in the sector. The report examines 12 emerging technological, social, tourism, and economic trends that will significantly transform the travel landscape by 2033. While some megatrends identified in 2022 have witnessed rapid growth over the past 12 months, others have also continued to develop, such as digital travel, with the emergence of digital identities. According to SITA’s 2023 Air Transport IT Insights report, 82% of airlines will use biometrics-enabled digital identity technologies for aircraft boarding by the end of 2026, while a further 67% have confirmed the use of single token and 50% touchless token. New data from SITA’s 2023 IT Insights report shows that 86% of airlines are collaborating with innovation partners to advance AI, machine learning (ML), and computer vision, with 39% already implementing projects, while another 47 % confirmed plans until the end of 2026. Only 3% of airlines declared they had no plans to invest in AI technologies. In comparison, 97% confirmed large research and development (R&D) programs. Analyzing airports, 16% of them already use AI and ML to improve decision-making and another 51% confirmed plans to implement these solutions by the end of 2026. The increase in demand for short-haul routes, the advances in batteries and electric propulsion systems, and increasing efforts to reduce aviation’s carbon footprint and operating costs have contributed to the impressive growth of the UAM transportation sector in 2023. It will soon be possible to use air instead of road in Paris: An electric air taxi service is being planned and could be launched during the 2024 Olympic Games. Airlines are showing greater interest in UAM, with 32% confirming major programs and R&D in services and infrastructure deployment, while 33 % of them invest in VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) integration technologies for aerial operations. UAM services and infrastructure are taking off for airports, with 32% confirming major programs and R&D on this front. Additionally, 57% of airports confirmed major programs and R&D plans to integrate intermodal transportation systems for data sharing, with 26% investing in technologies for VTOL integration. –