EXECUTIVE INTERVIEW: LEYASU SUGIMOTO, GLOBAL SOLUTION MANAGER, ADB SAFEGATE
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Have industry players been quick to adapt technology to cater to the changing needs in the market?
The Pandemic has been a turning point. While the aviation industry has been traditionally very conservative over the last decades, the dynamics caused by the pandemic have led to a rapid increase in acceptance of new technologies. Companies in aviation sector are now forced to adopt modern technologies that have been established in other industries years ago to keep cost down, make sure that infrastructure is maintained and generally keep up with the pace of modernization. Additionally, new technologies and architectures are needed to support future operational concepts and satisfy the appetite for digitalization, automation and virtualization so that the aviation industry can further increase safety and drive efficiency and capacity increase.
In which areas and geographies do you see strongest potential for growth?
Strongest growth in aviation industry from air traffic management perspective is expected in Middle East and APAC. Middle East is striving further to be established as the hub center between Europe and Asia and we see strong investments in infrastructure driven by traffic increase enabled by leading airlines. Growth in APAC is pushed by large population (like India, China, Indonesia) with a rising middle class that can afford and demand domestic and regional flights.
What technologies do you predict will impact the ATM industry most in the next five years?
Different forms of unmanned aerial traffic will impact ATM industry most. With the anticipated growth in drone operations, dedicated traffic management systems for unmanned aircraft will become crucial. UTM systems will allow for the safe integration of drones into the airspace, ensuring they don't interfere with manned aircraft operations. Since UTM is still an evolving area and until industry standards have been established and adopted, integration of UTM with ATM will be a challenge on operational and regulatory level.
How can new technology support air traffic capacity growth?
Technology will drive automation and free up mental and physical capacity in the daily work of people involved in all areas of air traffic, enabling them to focus on additional work and move into a more supervising role. AI-driven algorithms can predict congestion, optimize traffic flow, and assist controllers in making real-time decisions. These systems can also analyze vast amounts of data to forecast potential issues and suggest preventive measures. New surveillance technologies and operational concepts allow closer spacing of aircraft without compromising safety, and digital and remote control towers further enhance visibility and control and allow more traffic to be handled even in adverse weather conditions. Finally, technology support allows air traffic controllers to work with free route airspace which alleviates congested routes while saving fuel and reducing CO2 emission.