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Digital tech powers up smart civil aviation
China Daily
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Digital tech powers up smart civil aviation

The booming digitalization trend is driving China's endeavor to build a smart civil aviation industry to boost sustainable development.

To give full play to digital technologies, civil aviation authorities will integrate "smart" concepts and technologies into industry growth in the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), said the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

The move to create smart civil aviation is expected to provide new room for industrial development and drive high-quality and high-efficiency growth of the sector, with digitalization as the key driving force.

Since 2010, China's civil aviation sector has remained the world's second-largest in terms of passenger throughput.

The aviation industry generates and processes massive amounts of data along its long industrial chain, making it naturally more adaptive and receptive to digitization. The application of digital technologies is of great importance to ensuring safety, efficiency and sustainable growth.

The CAAC is committed to making the entire industry smart by integrating new-generation digital technologies into the whole industry-from air travel, air logistics and Customs clearance to the industry's operation and supervision, according to the CAAC's smart aviation strategy.

The CAAC is actively promoting radio frequency identification technology in luggage tracking, automated luggage check-in, facial recognition and intelligent inquiry services, among others.

China's major airports will enhance their luggage management service capabilities. Within this year, all major airports with annual passenger throughput exceeding 10 million will utilize RFID.

The CAAC is also encouraging innovation in related technologies and drafting tech roadmaps in fields like in-flight internet surfing on commercial airplanes.

In a recently issued tech roadmap, the CAAC showed the development path for new-generation broadband communication technologies, represented by 5G tech.

According to the roadmap, air passengers' in-flight internet surfing experience will be greatly enhanced, from previous cabin local networks to broadband connectivity at much higher speeds.

As the end of June, 769 commercial aircraft of 21 Chinese airlines had been equipped with in-flight internet services, up 18 percent from 2020, CAAC data showed.

The CAAC's strategy in building a smart civil aviation industry is expected to boost the sector's further recovery from the COVID-19 impact and open new space for industry players.

Digital technology will greatly boost the profitability and market performance of airlines by saving on fuel costs and wages, cutting operational and maintenance costs, and enhancing safety and passenger experience, said Steven Lien, president of Honeywell China and Aerospace Asia Pacific.

"Working with Chinese partners, we look forward to supporting the digitalization of China's aviation industry and exploring more business opportunities," Lien said.

Digitalization will also contribute to the reduction of emissions through various "saving" and "enhancement" means. It is expected to help sustain the industry's low-carbon transformation.

"Digital technologies enable us to save fuel and paper. We are not only concerned about cutting costs, but also about our shared commitments with China in cutting emissions," said Bernard Sim, deputy general manager of Scoot Airways.

The Singapore-based budget airline has resumed flights to eight Chinese destinations, around one-third of its resumed global network.

"Digitalization is a great chance for self-upgrading of airlines. It powers us to enhance passenger flight experience and explore sustainable growth, especially in the massive market of China," Sim said.

China DailyGu Yetao

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