Before the COVID-19 pandemic, air travel in Australia was big business.

The country’s four largest airports reported record profits in 2018-19. There were 42.5 million international passenger movements last calendar year, and 63.52 million domestic movements in the year to June 30, according to government numbers.

And all parts of the aviation industry were benefiting from the Internet of Things (IoT) and associated technology. It was being trialled or used to better manage aircraft movements, to optimise flight routes and aircraft maintenance, and to help ground crews that interact with the aircraft stay safe.

 

 

The complexity of that work will grow if the number of conventional flights operating in Australian airspace eventually returns to previous levels and increases. Prior to the pandemic, that number was expected to double over the next 20 years.

Add to that the anticipated rise of unmanned aerial vehicles, environmental challenges such as emissions and weather pattern predictability, and expectations from airlines and regulators, and the job of managing Australia’s skies becomes even more complex than it already has been.

 


 

Today, that job falls heavily on highly trained professional controllers from Airservices Australia, the government-owned corporation that provides air traffic control, aviation rescue and fire-fighting and air navigation services.

But, in the future, digital twin technology could shoulder some of their workload, while also helping them to model different strategies and scenarios aimed at solving emerging aviation challenges.

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