Air transport has evolved for over two thousand years. The development has been facilitated by advancement in technology. Man was motivated to design air transportation after observing the birds. Kites were the first objects made by man to fly at around 200 B.C. Gliders were invented at around the 9th century. Between the 17th and 18th century hydrogen balloons were invented. The first hot air balloon flight was in 1783.
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In the 20th century, the first powered heavier-than-air flight was invented due to development in aerodynamics and engine technology. During the Second World War, there was rapid development in aircrafts as each country tried to develop a mode of transport for their weapons. In the 21st century, computer controlled autonomous aircrafts have been designed to fly without a pilot. Aircrafts with complex capabilities and features are being designed everyday, owing to advancement in technology. This discussion explores how advancement in technology has impacted on the air transport industry.
Impact of Technological Changes on Air Transport
As the aircrafts evolved, there were changes in technology and this impacted on several other factors like the performance, affordability, and safety. Advancement in information technology has led to the improvement of performance, capability, safety, and cost effectiveness of air transport.
Advancements in technology have increased the safety of the passengers. This has been achieved through installation of alerting functions, improved control of flights, and enhanced situation awareness by the flight crew. Sensors have been installed to detect external threats, for instance, weather radar, Ground Proximity Warning Systems, Traffic Collision and Avoidance Systems and Terrain Awareness Warning Systems. These have increased the security of the passengers. These advancements have led to a reduction in the number of accidents involving aircrafts and consequently more people are opting to use this mode of transport (Hansman, 2005).
As technological advancements are incorporated in air transport, the costs of air travel have reduced. The reduction of the transportation costs has been as a result of the de-regulation of the air transport industry and the efficiency and competition brought about by technological changes (Button, 2008).
The capability of aircrafts has improved owing to technological changes. For instance, all weather operations are now possible. Technological changes have also led to efficiency in aircraft operations. The number of required members of the flight crew has reduced and the aircrafts are also more fuel-efficient. Advances in technology have enhanced the flow of information in air transport. There has been the incorporation of a digital data bus that allows communication and synchronization between multiple elements like the display, control, decision support and the pilot. This kind of communication was not possible when the analogue information systems were in use (Hansman, 2005).
Sensor systems, which are microprocessor enabled, have improved the general performance of aircrafts. There is advancement in radio communication with higher bandwidths for data and voice channels. Satellite communication is also being used in aircrafts. Information technology has also made it possible to mitigate environmental restrictions like noise and aircraft emissions. Technology has enhanced convenience in air transport as the passengers can now book their flights online. They do not have to go to the airport to do the booking. The cockpit has undergone changes due to advancement in technology. The display has evolved from electro-mechanical to electronic display. This conveys different information to the pilot and increases his/her situation awareness (Hansman, 2005).
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Technological advancements have played a major role in shaping the current air transport industry. Air travelers enjoy a more convenient, safe, and effective mode of transport owing to incorporation of technology in aircraft manufacture and communication systems. More technological advances are underway and they are bound to have a tremendous impact on air transport.
Hansman, R.J. (2005). The Impact of Information Technologies on Air Transportation. Web.