The aviation industry has seen technological advancements over the last few decades. There is no doubt that the digital wave has made it possible to embrace new technologies rather quickly, and offer endless possibilities.
A recent report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called “Future of the Airline Industry 2035”, identified various technologies such as metaverse, blockchain, web 3.0, virtual reality, and augmented reality, among others, that will transform flying for good. Virtual reality in Aviation training helps learners get experience of complex situations without posing a risk to their lives.
The Back Story
The aviation industry was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is still under huge pressure because of various factors like staff shortage, high airfare, fuel price, and replacement of business travel with virtual meetings. To augment their offerings, airlines are turning to the metaverse as aviation in the metaverse is picking up pace.
For instance, Qatar Airways launched QVerse, a virtual reality program that enables passengers to look inside the aircraft through virtual reality.
Aircraft manufacturers are utilizing the metaverse; Airbus and Boeing are looking forward to creating digital replicas of aircraft to use to run tests and simulations. This way, they need not accumulate flight hours on a physical trial aircraft to gather data and results, and can hence save costs and eliminate safety risks to the test crew. Also, due to these features, metaverse is utilized in aerospace and defense.
In addition to that, Airbus and HeroX held a crowdsourcing competition by the name of “Metaverse and the Future of Flight” to attain innovative ideas on how to leverage metaverse to reimagine and boost traveler experience.
Industry Giants Have Ventured into the Metaverse
Companies like Meta are going all out to embrace the metaverse. JP Morgan anticipates that the metaverse will have a deep impact on every business and they peg the market opportunity at around $1 trillion.
Emirates plans to invest $10 million to build its brand in the metaverse. All airline giants like Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Lufthansa, Qantas, and Qatar Airways are going on the same path.
- HeroX/Airbus Metaverse Challenge
The 2022 HeroX/Airbus Metaverse challenge encouraged people and organizations to help Airbus imagine the travel experience of the future through the use of the metaverse. The event was initiated by Tugrul Yildirim, Transformation leader at Technology and Engineering. There were more than 60 submissions. A total prize of $30,000 was awarded to five winners. Capgemini was the winner and was awarded $10,000. The submissions were assessed by 14 employees from the Airbus Commercial Aircraft business. Entries were judged on the basis of user experience, ease of implementation, creativity, and novelty.
Marc Fischer, SVP cabin and cargo engineering, Airbus, says, “Innovation is part of our DNA. We have a long history of pioneering new technologies. Metaverse is an unknown world and we’d like to understand how it can elevate our passengers’ experience. This challenge is a perfect start.”
Kal K. Sahota, CEO of HeroX, says: “We are on the verge of exciting travel breakthroughs, and the HeroX community of solvers is the perfect group to tap for innovative ideas. I am eager to see what the metaverse and their ingenuity can offer the everyday traveler.”
- Boeing Set to Build its Next Plane in the Metaverse
What exactly does Boeing mean by designing planes in the metaverse? In a bid to revolutionize its design and production process, Boeing is looking to incorporate features of the metaverse. The company plans to make drastic changes within the next two years, including an integrated digital ecosystem of information, increased reliance on robotics, and so much more. Boeing is looking to invest $15 billion over the next decade for the digital revamp; the metaverse features are set to be integrated into its operations within two years.
Boeing Chief Engineer Greg Hyslop said, “You will get speed, you will get improved quality, better communication, and better responsiveness when issues occur. When the quality from the supply base is better, when the airplane build goes together more smoothly, when you minimize re-work, the financial performance will follow from that.”
Air Mile Programs
The frequent flyer program is lucrative for airlines. People who fly a lot, like business travelers, mostly fly with the same airline to accumulate more and more points. These “loyalty points” are used by travelers to get free cabin upgrades or even free flights. It becomes an attractive proposition for customers to stick to the same airline.
These air mile programs are actually quite beneficial for the aviation industry. The majority of the time, airlines sell these points to partner businesses, like banks or credit card companies. These financial institutes offer customers the opportunity to accumulate the same loyalty points along with other benefits by using their credit cards more often. Hence, this way the customer becomes a valuable member of both- the credit card company and the airline.
These points are a cash cow for the airlines, as they get loyal customers and get to sell the points to credit card companies. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Air miles create huge value for customers and airlines; for instance, to lend money from the U.S. government, American Airlines used its programs as collateral. AirBaltic is the first airline that accepts cryptocurrency for payment for tickets and Emirates is in full swing to launch NFTs and experiences in the metaverse
The metaverse can facilitate airport access, the virtual reality in aviation Industry can make it hassle-free to earn and redeem air miles. How? Post-COVID-19 pandemic, people are not traveling much, and metaverse can greatly help in turning things around. For instance, you love airports and the whole flying experience- including lounge access and shopping. But you are not traveling much and missing out on the airport experience. Metaverse can help you still accumulate loyalty points- you can network with fellow travelers in the lounge, shop for an ebook in the airport mall, etc., but digitally. The great thing is that customers are giving it a shot!
The metaverse is set to drastically transform the aviation industry, with more and more airline giants interested in leveraging the metaverse technology, it’s going to be huge. Airlines intend to bring together airline services, design, and production into a unified digital manufacturing system, and the metaverse development can turn it into a reality.