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Drones and the Future of Travel: What’s Next for Airline easyJet?

easyJet has always been at the forefront of innovation in the airline industry, not only for their consumer offerings but also in terms of aircraft maintenance and operations.

All the way back in 2015, when drones were far less readily available, easyJet pioneered the use of the Remote Intelligent Survey Equipment for Radiation or RISER drone quadcopter to complete inspections on Airbus A320 units.

It was used with a T-Series tracking system that assessed the location of the aircraft relative to its own position in 3D, allowing it to maintain a safe distance while inspecting the plane for signs of lightning strikes and other issues.

This reduced aircraft downtime from a full day to just a few hours and allowed engineers and digital personnel to focus on other pertinent tasks, thus saving money, time, and energy.

For easyJet, it’s not enough to be cost-efficient; the company also strives to be comprehensively efficient, a theme that can be threaded throughout its history as a pioneer in the industry.

Innovation after innovation

Airlines are no stranger to innovation – in mid-2020, Airbus unveiled an autonomous aeroplane that was able to taxi, take off, and land using onboard image recognition.

easyJet understands that investing in efficiency is of paramount importance, which is why the airline dedicated $74.7 million to ICT spending in 2021.

The use of 3D Virtual and Augmented Reality technology in glasses that enable a remote engineering team to see exactly what a pilot is seeing in real-time is also in the works.

It uses the world’s first-ever HD see-through display, which helps on-ground staff spot technical issues and minimise the need to contact operations control centres.

In pursuit of eco-consciousness, the airline has adopted SkyBreathe, a fuel management solution that harnesses Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and Big Data.

It takes into account environmental data from real flight conditions to identify fuel-saving opportunities, thereby reducing fuel consumption by up to 5%. This is part of the airline’s goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Travel plans made easy

Customer service is another area where easyJet stayed ahead of the pack. The airline’s digital-first holiday business was established three months prior to the pandemic.

At a time when customer inquiries were at an all-time high, the airline used a Google cloud-based chatbot trained with natural language processing, eventually handling 5 million holiday- and booking-related queries at an astounding 99.8% accuracy.

Having customer service efficiency down pat makes it easy for travellers to coordinate and finalise plans.

Another way that people look to make travelling easier is by arranging the finer details of an entire holiday in one convenient package.

easyJet’s all inclusive holidays allows customers to plan out flights, hotels, luggage arrangements, transfers, meals, and more in advance.

This allows conscious spenders to factor in the entire cost of their trip without having to rely on rough, often inaccurate estimates on miscellaneous expenses like snacks and souvenirs – all of which can throw a budget off course.

Because everything has been prepaid, no one has to worry about having to pull out their wallet to indulge in another poolside drink, for instance.

These all-inclusive packages can take passengers to the rich historical landmarks of Spain, the laidback coastal lifestyle of Greece, or the majestic views of Turkey, among many exciting destinations.

What’s to come?

As the world hurtles into the fourth industrial age, easyJet continues to focus on perpetual innovation to prepare for what’s to come.

In pursuit of this, the Independent reported that easyJet commissioned Europe’s leading aerospace, design, and engineering experts to create a Future Travel Report, or collated predictions of what travel could look like in 50 years’ time.

For example, the report imagines that haptic suits could allow people to “time-travel” to what historical sites would have looked like during their heyday.

Biometric passports could use wireless ECG to scan a person’s unique cardiac signature, bypassing the need to carry a traditional passport.

Exciting forecasts aside, it’s clear that easyJet and other major travel stakeholders will continue to make travel a progressively seamless experience, all while maximising cutting-edge technology and reducing their environmental impact.

With these initiatives in place, passengers can look forward to even better holidays ahead.

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