Voice AI for Aviation: A Move in the Flight Direction

There’s one thing that airlines, airports, and manufacturers all have in common: They all need consistent, quality data input from their workforces. With over 400 million people now using voice tools in their daily routines, voice AI has emerged as a top solution for improving data collection by frontline workers.

Here’s where we see voice AI taking off in the aviation world…

1. Air Traffic Management systems

These systems are built on voice communication between controllers in towers and pilots in planes. There are many controllers involved in one flight (ground, tower, approach, departure, and en route controllers), handing the plane off between phases. Boeing is researching the use of speech recognition AI to digitize these conversations and generate insights, minimizing the element of human error. Most conversations between pilots and controllers are repetitive and follow well-established patterns, and this is where AI applications thrive. When the normal patterns are broken, the conversation can be flagged for a double check. The challenges to this application include security concerns and the reliability of transcription.

“In the air traffic management world, there’s zero tolerance for mistakes. So it’s not like your Siri, where if you make a mistake, that’s fine; you just say it again. But not here; you cannot do it.” - Helen Lee (AI in Aerospace: Boeing’s Helen Lee | MIT Sloan Management Review )

Thankfully, voice AI technologies like Datch specialize in speech to text (STT) with a form of NLP that is industry specific, adapting to the jargon and information protocols required for this industry. Datch and Boeing began their working partnership in January 2021 under the ATI Boeing Accelerator, following Boeing HorizonX Ventures' substantial investment in Datch’s seed round.

“Having teams like Datch, with diverse and extremely multi-cultural backgrounds, is what makes this program so successful,” said Brian Schettler, Senior Managing Director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures.

2. Aircraft Cabin Inspections

Through the Starburst Aviation Accelerator Program, Datch has demonstrated how Voice AI can speed up aircraft cabin inspections for Singapore Airlines’ engineering subsidiary, SIA Engineering Company (SIAEC). SIAEC Cabin Services inspects the interior of aircraft to identify and resolve any issues within the cabin. Pre-pandemic times, Cabin Services performed around 200 cabin sweeps a day for transit checks. Each cabin sweep usually takes around 45 minutes from start to finish - with a significant part of that being reporting. Datch’s role is about eliminating the time spent on this portion of the job, by enabling real-time recording of defects, deviations, and processes - directly on mobile devices.

3. Aerospace Manufacturing

In a recent case study, an Aerospace parts manufacturer implementing Datch found the average time of work order completion dropped from 5min 48s to just 1 minute and 24 seconds; a 75% time reduction. At the same time, there was an increase of 82% more descriptive information captured.

“Human language is incredibly good at compressing data without losing quality. Natural Language Processing mimics the human brain, not only in understanding the words that are said, but also in understanding the intent and relaying that conversation as structured data. Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes that translation layer between the efficient, human side and the structured, systematic, company-level needs. “ -Datch CEO, Mark Fosdike. (Aerospace 4.0 blog)

4. Natural Crew Assistants

The EU-funded Voice Crew Interaction (VOICI) project under Clean Sky 2 has aimed to develop an intelligent "natural crew assistant" for a cockpit environment. By reducing crew workload, VOICI helps optimize operations with; flight safety, crew awareness, improved maintenance, reduced cost of operations, and overall higher efficiency with lower stress. They achieve this with a combination of speech capture, speech recognition and interpretation, and speech synthesis for dialog with the crew.

“The VOICI system should recognize and interpret speech content, interact with the crew, and fulfill crew requests to simplify crew tasks and reduce cognitive workload,” outlines project coordinator, Tor Arne Reinen.

5. Booking Flights

Voice AI applications aren’t limited to MRO teams within Aerospace companies. Companies like Cognigy are using conversational AI to improve customer experience when booking, changing, or cancelling flights. Conversational AI tools empower Airlines to meet customers where they’re at: mobile devices. Their products integrate with existing backend systems, centralizing frequent flyer systems, seat reservations, company FAQs, and more. These tools help sort repetitive problems like ticket cancellations while collecting data that inform customer service about special cases. These tools reach beyond arrival, even assisting travelers with missing luggage and connecting flights.

The future of voice AI in aviation:

A global survey by Deloitte found that 84% of Aerospace & Defense (A&D) executives said they’d consider leveraging new digital technologies as key to market differentiation — yet only a quarter of A&D companies are actually using these technologies. Aerospace 4.0 empowers companies to access, manage, analyze, and leverage data from their digital assets, informing decision-making in real-time.

It’s clear to see how voice AI helps aviation and A&D companies build a competitive advantage now, but it will be industry-standard soon. It’s time to digitize with Datch, before the competition flies right past you.

Get started, today: datch.io/enterprise

Written by

Jessica Simm

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