Business aviation was once thought of as an expensive luxury.
Only the richest business people could afford to fly by private jet, while others crammed into commercial seats. Now, thanks to countless new technologies, business aviation is becoming more affordable. New technologies are changing the industry in other ways too.
In fact, so many changes are afoot that some airplane manufacturers and airlines are struggling to keep up. They will need to adapt if they are going to survive in what has always been a fast-paced industry.
We’ve already seen some fundamental shifts in recent rimes, with the introduction of composite-bodied aircraft for example. Additionally, business travel usually entails ‘working on the move’ which used to be impossible on an aircraft due to the ban on electronic devices and a lack of internet. Some modern airplanes now come equipped with satellite-based connectivity to the internet and the ban on some electronic items has been relaxed.
The Business Aviation Industry is Finally Keeping Pace With a Fast-Changing World
Despite the appearance of complexity, airplanes used to have very few functions – they would get you off of the ground, keep you up in the air, then land safely at your destination. With more demands placed upon all forms of travel in terms of customer expectations, the business aviation industry has awoken to the need to keep pace with a fast changing world.
Like all industries, aviation is evolving in terms of environmental friendliness. Aircraft do have a poor reputation when it comes to examining their carbon footprint, and many people are eschewing air travel simply because of that. The good news is that electronic aircraft are rising on the horizon, and business aviation is leading the way in this space.
For example, in 2014 an electric aircraft venture named Zunum sprang into operation with plans to make electricity powered business aircraft a viable proposition. In early 2017 the company was boosted when it received investment from both JetBlue and Boeing. Later in the same year Zunum announced it had developed plans for a 12-seater passenger hybrid-electric passenger plane that would be perfect for business travel. It is hoped that Zunum’s dream will become reality by 2022.
Supersonic Air Travel Could Make a Return by 2030
One of the main issues with business aviation is that – even with internet connectivity – it can put you out of commission for a while when you are traveling. If you are traveling long distances including inter-continental flights then you could be unavailable for several hours, which is less than satisfactory.
Companies are working on new technologies and methods by which the actual time you are in the air is reduced. The sole aircraft capable of supersonic (i.e. faster than the speed of sound) flight – the jointly French-UK owned Concorde – was taken out of commission in 2003 and commercial supersonic air travel ceased. Now companies are embracing technological advances in order to bring back the option of super-swift travel times.
Airbus has already patented a new jet with the potential of reaching speeds in excess of four and a half times the speed of sound, and representatives of Boeing have stated they hope to establish supersonic flight options within two decades. Such flights are not likely to be cheap, though, although the extra outlay to drastically reduce journey times may be worth the cost.
Could ‘Pilot Free’ Aircraft Eventually Become a Reality?
We’ve already seen plenty of headlines – both good and bad – about driverless cars, and it could be that pilot-free aircraft could soon become a reality (although it is unlikely that an aircraft will ever leave the ground without a qualified pilot on board, just in case of emergencies). Advances in computer technology means that there is much less for a pilot to do while in charge of an aircraft, and many companies are exploring ways in which all air travel procedures could become fully automated.
There have already been tests for ‘flying taxis’ without pilots for short-distance flights in the United Arab Emirates, although just how comfortable people may feel boarding a ‘pilot free’ aircraft remains to be seen.
Consumers demand comfort these days when undergoing any form of travel. Gone are the days when even simple air travel was considered a luxury and people thought themselves lucky just to be in an airplane. ‘In flight’ entertainment meant a book or a movie shown via a projector.
People want personalized entertainment and free internet connectivity, and not the slow connectivity afforded by satellite-based connections. Several companies now offer wireless streaming and JetBlue has gone as far as implementing free, high-speed internet connectivity. Technology now allows such connectivity, and companies recognize that on-board internet is as important to people as having a comfortable seat.
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