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Airbus is betting on AI for a single pilot model to meet travel demand

Europe's main aerospace Airbus is working on a pilot to meet rising air travel demand, said chief technology officer Grazia Vittadini.

Demand for air travel doubles every 15-20 years, which results in more noise, emissions, fuel consumption and higher requirements for pilots. A single pilot model is being developed with the help of automation technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).

"While the human component will continue to be responsible for strategic decisions, AI will handle routine tasks, eliminating the workload of pilots so that their attention is focused. "There will be AI applications to help with activities, such as introduction of runway or sign images at airports and conversion of speech to text, because communication plays an important part of pilot workload," Vittadini said.

Airbus will begin testing a single pilot model with transport aircraft and hope this becomes a reality for the coming decade. Vittadini said problems regarding passenger safety would be enhanced with this new technology.

Airbus's move to get rid of the two pilots occurred on the day Boeing announced that it had reduced the use of automation to make aircraft parts for its 777 jets amid reports of reliability problems, and returned by asking human mechanics to do some work, Reuters reported.

Airbus, which spends around € 2 billion per year in research and development (R&D), also works on demonstrators of a complex hybrid electric aircraft, the E-Fan X. In the test aircraft, one of the four jet engines will be replaced by two megawatt electric motors , which is roughly equivalent to the power of 10 medium-sized cars. Electric propulsion units are powered by power and battery systems.

The Indian engineering team Airbus has played an important role in its global R&D activities, said Vittadini.

In 2015, the company established the global aerospace business accelerator, Airbus BizLab, in India, where Airbus beginners and intrapreneurs worked on innovative ideas that could be converted into viable business solutions.

Since its inception, Airbus BizLab in India has accelerated 50 startups and 40 internal projects, which have raised a combined € 19.5 million.

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