RAeS Webinar: Artificial Intelligence and Aviation

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Great technical strides in Artificial intelligence (AI) over the last ten years have seen machines rival or exceed human capabilities in multiple fields, including transport, life sciences, entertainment, retail and finance. AI, and particularly machine learning, has the potential to disrupt industries and change society by automating automation itself and doing so at an increasing rate. Yet, current AI also has fundamental technical shortcomings, such as a lack of transparency, a vulnerability to bias and brittleness of operation. Together, these factors raise new social, commercial, legal and ethical challenges. Around the world, private companies, governments and inter-governmental bodies are debating how to ensure responsible use of AI through codes of ethics, regulation and legal reform. The use of AI technology in commercial aviation has brought some significant changes in the ways aircraft are operated and maintained. From the engines in the aircraft, ground based AI is used to analyse engine data transmitted whilst the aircraft is in flight – from thousands of engines simultaneously – to monitor their health and enable maintenance teams to predict when the engines will arrive in overhaul shops and plan inventory and workscopes accordingly, thereby providing massive benefits to the turn-around times and hence the availability of Airlines’ assets. The world’s leading airlines and travel companies are now using AI tools and technologies to deliver a more personalized travel experience to their customers. From building AI-powered airport kiosks to more efficient airline operations and security checking, AI will play an even more critical role in the aviation industry. In 2020, the EASA released a roadmap where it considers that “AI will not only affect the products and services provided by the industry; it will also trigger the rise of new business models.” AI is highlighted as a priority by the New Experience in Travel and Technology (NEXTT) initiative launched by The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airports Council International (ACI) in October 2017 aiming to optimise the use of emerging technologies in the face of growing passenger numbers, specifically in relation to its ability to improve real-time decision-making and, therefore, efficiency. This webinar will look at the fundamental legal and ethical issues raised by AI and its impact on the aviation industry.

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