Artificial Intelligence under the wing of security

By 2040, we should see about 50,000 airplanes in the air. Boeing and Airbus estimate that there will be about 650,000 pilots by that time.

To reach this staggering figure, it would be necessary to double the training capacity. But faced with this shortage, pilots are currently racking up overtime.

This situation explains why so much research is being done on Artificial Intelligence and how it can be integrated into piloting systems.


Man vs. Machine: what is the real threat?

Jérôme Bouchard, an aeronautical expert with the Oliver Wyman consulting company, believes that human factor is the cause of a large majority of accidents.

Therefore, Artificial Intelligence comes to mind as a panacea for the aviation sector’s human and logistical challenges. The website PlanetCrashInfo ensures that piloting errors account for 53% of the causes of crashes.

Editor’s note: This statistic rises to 59% if we count human errors on the ground (guidance or handling errors).

In contrast, flight autonomy doubters remind us that unforeseen events also play a role in this disastrous record. The most frequent unforeseen events take the form of:

  • turbulence
  • problems with passengers that may affect the flight (such as incivility or illness)
  • bird collisions
  • malicious acts
  • technical or human failures
  • and even smartphone battery fires.

In addition, the automation of machines and flight planning already exists in aviation. So why fear the arrival of artificial intelligence?

The difference lies in the ability to make decisions, explains Henry de Plinval. The director of the drone program at the French Center for Aerospace Research quotes the possibility of modifying the control of an aircraft during a system failure.


Artificial Intelligence, the new weapon in air warfare

According to Patrice Caine, CEO of Thales, technology will soon allow passengers to travel with a single pilot on board. This promises to be a revolution in the field of aerospace. And even if this implies that unmanned aircraft is not on the agenda for the moment, it doesn’t deny the feasibility of the project.

In fact, flights with a single pilot in the cockpit could be planned by 2022. So Thales has partnered with Airbus to foster collaboration based on existing technical solutions.

These innovations mainly concern flight planning and navigation management software. We already have programs that can optimize trajectories and avoid collisions today.

AI, a new weapon for army?

Still, this remains a fearful subject for private companies. On the other hand, one sector in particular is at least interested in this advance… the army!

In fact, the former Minister of Defense has a very precise idea on the subject. For him, the military sees several advantages in this innovation, including:

  • Minor risk exposure for soldiers (it is preferable to sacrifice a machine rather than a human life)
  • More efficient management of ground operations (in terms of speed and coordination)
  • Discretion observed during missions, reinforced by the ability of machines to communicate with each other and their speed in analyzing a situation with the right software

Failing to take an interest in the cockpit, researchers are thinking about developing an interactive platform, Sésar. Like a smart database, the aircraft would be in constant communication with the people and infrastructures charged with regulating its flight. This hub will also generate information in real time, communicating it to pilots to enable them to make decisions.


Artificial Intelligence is no longer a technology that is debated today but one which we have learned to accept. With more than 37 million flights per year, this means of transportation is increasingly popular around the world for long and medium distances. Artificial Intelligence has found a new expanding sector.

Currently in the design phase, no airline has yet positioned itself for the purchase of such devices for the moment.


To read: Tomorrow’s airports on time with facial recognition