The future of aviation is driven by innovation across passenger well-being, sustainability and beyond

(BPT) - The aviation industry drives around 5% of U.S. GDP - the equivalent of $1.25 trillion in 2022. The industry creates innovative and rewarding roles for some 8 million people across the U.S. Aviation, supporting around 25,000 flights carrying 2.3 million passengers and 66,000 tons of cargo every day. As the industry bounces back from the uncertainty of the last few years, innovation is critical to addressing passenger issues, such as well-being and sustainability, as well as helping to create an improved passenger experience for the flyer.

One company spearheading this innovation is TransDigm Group. The company employs more than 14,000 staff across its portfolio of 48 operating companies located across the United States and Europe. The company has a rich heritage of innovation and manufacturing in aviation and aerospace, including critical avionics, actuation systems, parachutes specifically designed for missions to Mars, and critical passenger and cargo safety systems.

Ensuring passenger well-being

Naturally, for some passengers, there was some anxiety about stepping back onboard aircraft following the global pandemic. But the industry was swift to respond to the crisis by developing enhancements to cabin interiors, designed with passenger well-being and comfort in mind.

Many airlines are now adopting antimicrobial materials for all passenger-facing touch points in the cabin, including bulkheads, tray tables, seatbacks and flooring. New innovations, like the TITANXP surface treatment from Schneller (a TransDigm company), are enhancing disinfection routines to ensure that cabins are effectively sanitised between flights, eradicating 99.9% of all bacteria on cabin surfaces.

Unlike traditional disinfectants, TITANXP has been shown in tests conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be effective on both hard and soft surfaces - enabling airlines and cabin designers to innovate the cabin interior without concerns around fabrics or finishes degrading due to exposure to harsh disinfectants.

Bathrooms on aircraft are typically small spaces with high footfall. Research has suggested that the average manual tap in a public bathroom is home to anywhere between 1,500 and 6,000 bacteria. Airlines - such as All Nippon Airways (ANA) - are kickstarting programs of investment in touchless technologies for aircraft bathrooms to help address passenger hygiene concerns.

Another TransDigm company, Adams Rite Aerospace (which won a competitive contract to design and manufacture the cockpit safety door systems following the 9/11 attacks), is a pioneer in this area. The company has built a portfolio of touchless lavatory products - from flush switches and faucets to hand dryers and liquid dispensers - to help airlines meet growing passenger demand for a more hygienic experience in airline bathrooms.

Driving the sustainable agenda

As the world focuses on growing a circular economy where environmental concerns are front of mind for all businesses, the airline industry is seeking new ways to reduce its environmental impact. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) - a jet fuel derived from non-fossil sources - is being deployed by leading commercial airlines, such as KLM, Lufthansa, Delta and American Airlines. While SAF has helped power hundreds of thousands of flights to date, airlines are continually seeking ways to further reduce fuel burn, saving cost and reducing environmental impact at the same time.

Less weight means less fuel burn, so airlines are seeking ways to implement lighter materials across the cabin, without impacting the performance or safety of the aircraft. One example is AmSafe, a TransDigm company, which has developed a new lightweight version of its seatbelt. This sheds around 50 grams from the original weight of every single seatbelt, while maintaining the integrity and performance that delivers safety in the air. Deployed across an entire fleet these kinds of reductions in onboard weight can deliver significant differences for airlines.

Blue skies ahead

Despite the disruption to air travel over recent years and its impact on airlines and passengers, the aviation industry has continued to innovate in critical areas such as customer well-being and the reduction of environmental impact. As the industry bounces back, with renewed demand for both business and leisure travel, innovation will continue to power real improvements to the passenger experience, helping to deliver highly skilled and rewarding roles for technical engineers and innovators across the globe. TransDigm's family of companies are committed to driving this innovation, helping turbo charge the aviation industry into a brighter future.

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