The aviation industry is experiencing a technological revolution that promises to change the aeronautical world as we know it. With breakthroughs in material science, propulsion systems, and sustainable energy sources, numerous new categories of flight are set to take to the skies.

Imagine a world of supersonic flight, powered by advanced, zero carbon propulsion systems.  A world where hydrogen-powered satellites circle high above the earth, providing low-cost communication connectivity. A world where electric air taxis move people between and within urban centres, reducing congestion and emissions.

The next generation of aviation is upon us, decarbonised and a force for good for all humankind.

Already airborne, drones also hold enormous potential for a range of applications.  These uncrewed aerial vehicles are not just for capturing breath-taking imagery, but for performing difficult tasks and saving lives.  They can monitor environmental emissions, deliver lifesaving medical supplies, perform complex search and rescue tasks and replace human operators in high-risk industrial settings, all while reducing the emissions associated with the conventional means of performing those tasks.

But these advances aren’t solely limited to the vehicles themselves. How we manage and use our airspace is absolutely crucial. Airspace modernisation is already creating streamlined and efficient airspace structures, enabling aircraft to take advantage of modern navigation technologies and creating an airspace that’s fit for those future technologies. And at the heart of this aviation revolution is the role of the airspace manager, which will become ever more critical in areas of busy airspace to ensure all aircraft – crewed and uncrewed – are safely separated and able to enjoy the benefits of an integrated airspace.

At NATS, we’re proud to be working with the pioneers of aviation’s next generation to enable flight trials and develop future concepts for the integration of new categories of flight.  Our expertise in air traffic control is already helping commercial drone operators deliver services to clients and enabling space-bound organisations to launch, while our airspace designers are working with operators and manufacturers to understand the art of the possible for tomorrow, and our R&D capability is looking further ahead to a multi modal mobility experience.

The end goal is undoubtedly game-changing but to reach it, collaboration across industry, government and between states will be needed in a way that’s never been done before.  And as the fast-paced world of tech converges with aviation, it’ll be more important than ever to think differently – something we’ll only achieve by creating an aviation workforce that embraces diversity, celebrates difference, and encourages innovation.

The first step change in aviation’s history? Possibly. Exciting times ahead? Definitely.


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