The global space economy is expected to reach revenues of over $1 trillion by 2040, with numerous technological trends expected to affect the aerospace industry in the coming years. With billions of dollars to support the aerospace industry, numerous technological opportunities are available to innovators. These include research, exploration, and utilization of space. Here are several aerospace technologies that will benefit the industry in the coming years.

Zero-Fuel Aircraft

Airbus unveiled three concepts for the world’s first hydrogen-based commercial aircraft, which could be operational by 2035. These concepts represent different approaches to achieving zero-emission flight and support the goal of establishing a decarbonized aviation industry. Airbus stated that the three concepts rely on hydrogen as their primary power source. They believe this alternative fuel can be a game-changer for the aerospace industry and other industries looking to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

Structural Health Monitoring (SHM)

A structural health monitoring system is used to analyze and monitor the changes in the geometric and material properties of various engineering structures, such as bridges and airplanes. It can help prevent aircraft accidents that can lead to significant loss of life. The concept of structural health monitoring is built on the use of non-destructive evaluation (NDE) sensors. These devices can be attached to a structure and used to analyze and monitor its condition.

Advanced Materials

Advanced materials can be used in a wide range of applications, such as aerospace, defense, and personal protection equipment. They can be used to reduce the risks associated with certain types of accidents and improve the performance of certain aircraft. For example, graphene, a carbon-based material just one atom thick, can be used to make batteries with better performance and lower weight, increasing the capacity for energy storage.

Smart Automation and Blockchain

The use of blockchain technology, which is commonly associated with cryptocurrencies, can help enhance the security of data. Its ability to provide a secure and resilient network can be attributed to its ability to prevent unauthorized access. Another advantage of this type of system is that it can automate entitlement management and access rights. The ability to distribute and manage the various components and systems within a supply chain can be attributed to blockchain technology. This type of system can help prevent the significant efforts required to move them from one place to another. It also offers a secure, auditable, and shareable record. A consensus between a manufacturing partner and a customer can be achieved through a blockchain ledger. This system can also provide a clear and unchangeable record of the design and its various changes.

Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing)

Through additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, a manufacturing process that involves using a 3D printer to create parts, components, and other related materials, has proven to be an excellent alternative to traditional manufacturing methods. Since the materials used in this process are very lightweight, complex geometric shapes can be made using them. The aerospace industry is focused on reducing the weight of its products due to various factors, such as increasing performance in fuel consumption, speed, and capacity. This is why the industry is looking into using 3D printing in its latest products, such as air ducts and seat frameworks.

Supersonic Flights

When an aircraft flies faster than the speed of sound, it is referred to as a supersonic flight. United Airlines announced that it plans to acquire 15 new aircraft in the next couple of years. The passenger flights that used to be conducted during this type of flight ceased in 2003 when British Airways and Air France retired their Concorde supersonic aircraft. The company plans to use a Denver-based company known as Boom to produce its new aircraft. However, it is not yet clear if the company will be able to demonstrate its product in flight. United’s deal condition is that the new aircraft should meet certain safety standards.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

The aerospace industry is also expected to benefit from the use of artificial intelligence in its research and education programs. Through machine learning, researchers can gain new insights into the materials used in various aerospace projects. AI can find solutions to much for complex problems compared to humans. It can also perform thousands of tasks in seconds compared to the human brain’s average processing time. Researchers at the US Air Force Research Laboratory are also developing artificial intelligence and autonomous systems that can help them speed up the discovery of new materials.

Autonomous Flight Systems

The aerospace industry is also expected to benefit from autonomous technologies. In particular, the industry is focused on developing fully autonomous flights. Despite the technological limitations that prevent fully autonomous flights from being developed, the industry is still expected to continue investing in research and development related to this subject. In the next couple of years, we might see planes being made completely autonomous by reducing the number of pilots. This technology has already been used in drones, although it will still need to be scaled up before it can be used on passenger planes.

Due to the continuous development of new manufacturing processes and technologies, small and medium-sized enterprises are able to benefit from the opportunities offered by the aerospace industry. By staying up-to-date with the latest trends, your manufacturing company can take advantage of the various benefits offered by the industry.