Why artificial intelligence is becoming the new norm in global aerospace and defense companies

The American company SAE International (formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers) will host an AeroTech event at the Pasadena Convention Center in California from March 15-17, 2022. The world’s top engineers, executives and professionals will gather there to discuss and address the fundamental issues and opportunities facing the aerospace industry today and in the future.

Artificial intelligence (AI) in industry, especially the defense sector, will be a hot topic at the event, it is said.

There is a growing realization in policy circles that aerospace and defense companies are now at the forefront of artificial intelligence. A just released thematic analysis from data and analytics company GlobalData has revealed that the Aerospace, Defense and Security (ADS) industry is now steadily increasing the number of vacancies in 2021, a development that reflects the technological revolution of industry.

And this trend will continue throughout 2022, the company says. Among the professions in demand, robotics and artificial intelligence are at the top. Deals in the AI ​​sector have grown 33.5% over the past 12 months, with the average deal valued at $159 million, according to GlobalData.

US tech companies leading the AI ​​race

For example, Leidos, the US engineering company based in Virginia and specializing in defense and aviation, announced 1,007 new artificial intelligence jobs from October 2020 to September 2021, filed three patents and mentioned eight. times artificial intelligence in the documents filed by the company.

Similarly, Boeing has indicated good levels of investment in AI, with the company seeking 793 new AI jobs since October 2020 and mentioning artificial intelligence five times in filings.

Boeing’s Loyal Wingman, an unmanned fighter-like aircraft. (via Twitter).

Even other defense-centric companies like Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman have also announced AI-based development projects and product launches. Like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Airbus have also invested in AI startups through their venture capital arms.

“AI is a transformative technology in defense because of its ability to allow militaries to collect and use vast amounts of data, potentially providing a competitive advantage over their adversaries.

AI will be particularly useful in the development of unmanned vehicles, which have the potential to reduce operating costs while exposing field personnel to less risk,” said William Davies, associate analyst at GlobalData. Many agree with him that AI will play a vital role on and off the battlefield.

AI applications range from autonomous weapons, drone swarms and manned-unmanned teams to other functions, such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, logistics and cyber operations.

AI in the aerospace sector

Even otherwise, AI is proving to be of great help in a wide range of other aerospace applications, some of which are particularly noteworthy.

In the realm of “product design”, AI algorithms can evaluate and rationalize design and manufacturing systems from an assortment of design alternatives in the shortest possible time. AI-powered generative design, combined with 3D printing, can be used to deliver different aircraft parts, from turbines to wings.

AI can drastically reduce the use of billions of gallons of fuel by making lightweight parts using 3D printing. It can also help aerospace companies improve their energy efficiency. An aircraft is said to consume fuel at the highest rate in the climb phase.

Here, AI models are said to be able to analyze the amount of fuel expended during the climb period of various aircraft and by many pilots to create climb stage profiles for each pilot. These profiles can rationalize the use of fuel during the climb phase. By using AI-created climb step profiles, pilots can save enough fuel during flights.

For representation purposes only. (open source image)

In fact, artificial intelligence can be used to improve even pilot training. It is said that AI simulators can help pilots undergo realistic training. AI-enabled arrangements inside a cockpit can incrementally improve a flight path by assessing and alerting on fuel level, frame condition, weather conditions, and other vital parameters.

It is also highlighted how the plane could be fitted with brilliant cameras powered by computer vision algorithms, expanding pilots’ field of vision and thus supporting their safety performance.

AI can play an important role in aircraft maintenance, which is universally recognized as essential for the best performance. Cloud-based applications, enabled by AI, are now used by Airbus for data processing, retrieval and analysis to increase the efficiency of aircraft maintenance.

Algorithms can detect and track possible failures in real time and predict the most appropriate repair times, resulting in smarter maintenance schedules.

How AI Boosts Supply Chain Management

In addition to saving/monitoring fuel and improving operational performance, AI is also becoming crucial for business leaders to explore and leverage the benefits of artificial intelligence in effective supply chain management. supply and improving customer service.

However, due to its very automation-enhancing nature, AI in Western-developed aerospace industries may force these companies to reconsider their decisions to invest in defense industries in the developing world, including the India. And this is bad news for these countries.

AI card

The rise of automation means businesses don’t have to worry as much about labor costs when choosing where to invest. Right now, companies like Boeing and Lockheed were looking for low-wage workers, even if it meant building long and complex supply chains. It will no longer be a dominant model.

As things stand, countries like the United States and those in Europe (with the possible exception of Germany) have borne the brunt of job losses as they promoted chains of much more economical supply in other parts of the world.

AI may or may not restore jobs to the parent countries of these aerospace industries, but it can certainly remove jobs in the supply chains they created elsewhere. These companies believe that their future is now based more on innovation and digital which are associated with AI.

Of course, there are no imminent threats to the regional supply chains that the dominant players in the aerospace industry have created or are creating. Yet there are tremendous pull factors such as access to resources, the speed at which companies can get their products to consumers, and the skills available in the workforce that drive supply chains. But the long-term implications of AI cannot be ignored.

  • Veteran author and journalist Prakash Nanda is Chairman of the Editorial Board of EurAsian Times and has been commentating on politics, foreign policy and strategic affairs for nearly three decades. A former National Fellow of the Indian Council for Historical Research and a recipient of the Seoul Peace Prize Fellowship, he is also a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. CONTACT: [email protected]
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