The aviation sector is constantly being subjected to technological advancements. This technological advancement is dominated by the presence of Artificial Intelligence, which has penetrated almost all sectors. With the changing world and the advancements in the field of Artificial Intelligence, the Indian aviation sector is also witnessing the same. 

Through this Blog Post, the authors explore the aspect of Artificial Intelligence in the Indian aviation sector and the need for the same. Post that, the authors analyze the Indian aviation sector coupled with the presence of AI, in addition to the recommendations and challenges that are being faced by the sector, concluding with the way forward.


Aviation is a powerhouse sector that is an underlying driver of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The accessibility of air travel has undergone tremendous changes as it has evolved to its present form. In today’s global world, air travel has become a standard tool, and more so, it serves as the most efficient and speediest means of connectivity, transforming travel for millions of people. At the same time, it is essential to address the issue of sustainability with the advancements in the aviation sector. This is when the“Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All) Partnership” comes into the picture. This partnership is unique, with 56 international organizations entering a coalition to change the landscape of transport and mobility, having sustainability as its central focus. 

Encompassing domestic and international airports, scheduled and non-scheduled domestic and international passenger airlines, helicopter and seaplane services, ground handling, maintenance, repair, and operations (MROs), flight and technical training institutions, and other similar aspects, the aviation sector is witnessing rapid advancements in Research & Development (R&D) and Technology. The aviation sector, like many others, has remained stirred by the effects of digitization and the products of the digital revolution. With airlines gearing for a robust recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in passenger traffic, today’s challenge is to manage growth by containing costs, efficiently and effectively using resources, and enhancing the passenger experience. Thus, digitization is the key to achieving these goals in the aviation sector. In anInternational Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Report, the importance of technological innovation in mobility and its immense impact on the aviation sector has been recognized. The saidReport acknowledges Artificial Intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, automation, robotics, blockchain, and other similar advanced technologies as the future of aviation. Adopting technologies such as AI serves as a medium for profitability and improved customer service. From chatbots to AI-powered airport kiosks, AI plays a critical role in the aviation sector.

AI and the Aviation Sector 

As mentioned above, it is pertinent to note that the digitization of the aviation sector on the international platform has played a vital role in ensuring smooth mobility. AI is not just aiding the aviation sector inachieving operational efficiency to its maximum but is also playing a crucial role in averting expensive fallacies and ensuring maximum customer satisfaction. AI gained momentum, especially after the COVID-19 era — when the aviation sector across the world was biting losses around it — as the losses areexpected to decrease from $52 billion in the year 2021 to $12 billion in 2022. 

The nexus between AI and the aviation sector is primarily found in areas like customer service and retention, operational efficiency, Air Traffic Control (ATC), Air Traffic Management (ATM), and autonomous machines and processes. It could be understood in detail by the following elucidation. 

a) As for customer service and retention, AI has been essential in ensuring increased customer satisfaction and experience in the aviation sector. This includes better optimization of the pricing strategies, providing recommendations to the consumers based on their frequency of travel, mapping the purchase history, and other similar measures by AI. The deployment of AI has not only assisted in the above sectors but has also allowed airline companies to render personalized offers and deals to their customers, achieving maximum customer satisfaction. The aspect of chatbots (which are called advanced virtual assistants) cannot be ignored as well.

b) AI would play a significant role in reducing operating costs and other expenses and would aid in increasing the operational efficiency of aviation companies. The dynamics of operational efficiency circumnavigates around two aspects, i.e., dynamic pricing and pricing optimization. The aspect of dynamic pricing refers to the alteration in the price of a particular service or product as per the growing or declining market condition. With the help of AI, airlines are now making the best of the base fare of the tickets, which has been formulated as per the variables in play (like flight path, passenger journey, and other similar variables.). Once this is done, these fares are adjusted according to market conditions, which maximizes airline revenues. 

On the other hand, the aspect of pricing optimization, which works similarly to that of dynamic pricing, works for a different purpose. With the help of AI in price optimization, various ways are explored to ensure that the seats in the flight are booked and, at the same time, the sales revenue is maximized. Incorporating AI in both these sectors at the end would help maximize the revenue using algorithms coupled with the other variables at play when the flight tickets are booked.  

Additionally, AI helps in facets like flight delay prediction (by deploying AI, specifically predictive analysis techniques, aspects like weather forecast and the status of the other airports could be taken into cognizance, which would then allow the authorities to make guidelines and arrangements accordingly), flight route optimization, crew scheduling, and fraud detection, to name a few. 

c) The introduction of autonomous machines and processes has proved to be an essential breakthrough in the aviation sector. The concept of “self-driving airplanes” has gained much momentum in the aviation sector. Companies like Boeing and Airbus have already begun tests for self-driven airplanes using AI algorithms. With the advancement in technologies like these, the door for autonomous technology has opened many possibilities. These possibilities include quick resolution of issues by identification of the defects and errors by AI, highlighting the variations in the manufacturing processes, and other similar possibilities. These autonomous machines are not limited to airplanes; they can also include aspects like ground handling, loading, fueling, and other related aspects.

d) Air Traffic Control (ATC) and Air Traffic Management (ATM) are one of the most critical tasks in the aviation sector. It is to be noted that even with the incorporation of AI in such tasks, humans cannot be replaced by these machines. The machine-learning aspect intends to assist humans in repetitive and predictive tasks revolving around ATC and ATM. The best example of this was when the UK Government, in 2021,insinuated a GBP 3-million budget to commence the live trials for an airspace control system that AI had powered. This project — called the “Project Bluebird” — had been implemented in partnership with The Alan Turing Institute and the National Air Traffic Services (NATS). As a part of this Project, the Alan Turing Institute, along with the NATS, have approached a complex problem circumnavigating around finding a way on how AI could be incorporated in such a manner that the ATM is optimized in a full-fledged manner. As a part of this Project, the collaborating institutes wish to focus on three critical issues: 

  • To build a computer model in such a manner that it acts as a “Digital Twin” of the UK airspace. The prediction of future flight trajectories and allied likelihoods would be easy upon the successful development of the said model.
  • To create a nexus between machines and humans for the UK airspace. As mentioned above, the reason for deploying the said technology is not to snatch the employment opportunities for humans but to collaborate with them to incorporate strategic planning of the airspace, which would, thus, increase the efficiency of the ATC decision-making process.
  • Via this deployment of Project Bluebird, the collaborating institutes intend to develop such methods and tools which would advocate for safe and trustworthiness of AI in the ATC system sector. 

Besides the areas mentioned above, AI’s utility has been extended further to airport management. This deployment comes after theestimates that the volume of passengers would see a surge of 25% despite the expansion of the airport infrastructure, specifically during the holiday season, just in the US. Every country has a different story to tell. Regarding India, as perDGCA data, May 2022 has witnessed the highest number of air passengers (1.20 crores) after the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. The best example of this could be atPittsburgh International Airport and Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, where AI has been aiding passengers in understanding the waiting time in the security queue.

AI in the Indian Aviation Sector 

The Indian aviation sector is changing and growing rapidly.With 62.1 million total passenger traffic (domestic and international) in 2020-21, the sector currently contributes anestimated $72 billion to the country’s GDP. With accelerating growth, the Indian aviation sector is set to becomethe third-largest aviation market by 2025. The UDAN scheme introduced by the Indian government epitomizes this as aregional connectivity scheme. Through this scheme, the government intends to provide affordable air services to the citizens of tier-II and tier-III cities, who either just dream of being an airline passenger or have to travel long distances to board flights. As passenger traffic increases, managing data and network bases and facilitating an improved passenger experience become inevitable. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic witnessed the government resorting to various measures to ensure contactless flying through the medium of seamless technology. From smart airports to passenger check-ins, AI has now been integrated into all layers of the aviation system. Cloud-based networks and machine learning installations at airports are now assisting in improving customer satisfaction and experience by analyzing specific behavioural patterns of passengers at airports. Airports are adopting chatbots and humanoids to resolve hassles and instantly reduce call volumes across call centres.KEMPA, the robot, is now assisting passengers at the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, with their flight-related inquiries and performing airport-related duties such as providing gate directions, scanning luggage, giving out boarding passes to passengers, and other similar functions. Similar robots have also been deployed at theCoimbatore Airport

To test the capabilities of AI, the Airports Authority of India (AAI)has sanctioned the use of AI for baggage screening across eight airports across India.“Baggage AI” is a threat detection machine that can automatically detect various objects and other threats from the x-ray images produced during baggage screening. Realizing that queue management at airports is a cumbersome task, the GMR Hyderabad International Airport has implemented aQueue Management System combining AI and security cameras which constantly monitors passenger wait time at security immigration and other similar areas. To ensure the safety of flyers, Sardar Vallabhbhai International Airport in Ahmedabad recently introduced an AI-based surveillance service known as the“Desk of Goodness” to help passengers in need through the use of smart detection techniques which can trace passengers in merely 45 seconds. In doing so, the Ahmedabad Airport hasbecome the first airport in India to have a video analytics system. 

AI also has the potential to aid in the rapid evaluation of tests and scans.“Garuda, India’s first AI-enabled COVID-19 testing facility for international passengers, was set up at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi in 2021. The paperwork-free process uses an AI with vision technology to enable speedy testing and management of patients in quarantine facilities and helps monitor oxygen saturation levels with a complete digitalized system for patient entries. 

AI is being used to automate flyers’ experience and avoid congestion at airports, and operators are also using it to optimize flight routes, crew training, in-flight entertainment, and other similar tasks. Airlines can collect and analyze flight data and statistics concerning route distance and altitudes, weather forecasts, and other similar data and statistics by using AI and machine learning algorithms. India’s newly launched airline, Akasa Air, has also announced a switch to an AI-powered product that aims to provide customer-friendly pricing based on changing market dynamics. Further, an optimal amount of fuel needed can be estimated based on the findings generated from the data using the deployment of AI. This would, in turn, allow the aviation sector to reduce its heavy generation of anthropogenic carbon dioxide and optimize its fuel efficiency. 

AI also plays a critical role in efficient crew management during any disruption in operations and in optimizing crew rostering based on algorithms. Recent testimony to this is usingComputer-Aided Engineering’s (CAE) AI-powered training systems by AirAsia India. AirAsia became thefirst Indian airline to use AI in crew training by using CAE’s AI-powered training system to train the airline’s pilots and crew. 

One of the demurs faced by the airlines today is reducing high operational costs and finding an innovative solution to the in-flight information papers carried by pilots that include vital information such as flight plans, route briefings, flight logs, and other similar vital information. This process increases the chances of human error due to the dependency on manual calculations and the non-availability of real-time information. To eliminate the above, airlines such as IndiGo and Vistara haveswitched to Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs), AI-backed electronic information devices displaying vital documents digitally, and capable of performing basic flight planning calculations, reducing the dependency on traditional flight logbooks and papers. 

The application of AI is now also being extended to facial recognition and biometrics of passengers. The Ministry of Civil Aviation, through itsDigi Yatra Policy, seeks to envisage an ecosystem for enhancing seamless, hassle-free traveller experience along with security through the use of AI and biometrics for the digital processing of passengers at airports. According to thispolicy, passengers will be automatically processed based on a facial recognition system at checkpoints, including entry point checks, security checks, andaircraft boarding. The facial recognition facility is nowsuccessfully running at Delhi and Bengaluru airports, with many others in the pipeline. 

The role of AI was further highlighted during the COVID-19 era when the infection rates were at an all-time high, and the aviation sector was suffering huge losses because of temporary closure. In 2020, theBengaluru airport introduced a“contactless journey” for passengers when domestic flight operations with 1/3rd capacity began. During this contactless journey, the passengers, from pre-entry into the airport to flight boarding, had minimum touch between the passengers and the airport staff. Following this, theHyderabad Rajiv Gandhi Airport also insinuated the concept of a contactless journey with a further introduction of an“Automatic Information Management System”, which acts as a virtual guide to resolve the issue of the passengers.


The ICAO’s vision for a global aviation cybersecurity strategy rightly foresees “…that civil aviation is resilient to cyber-attacks and remains safe and trusted globally, whilst continuing to innovate and grow.” Although AI has the potential to resolve issues in the aviation sector, it also introduces a set of challenges and risks. These dangers take the form of errors in facial recognition, errors in the computation of risks, and flaws in the machine occurring due to various reasons, like the malfunctioning of the machine or due to any cyber attack being carried out by notorious hackers to fulfil their nefarious intentions. With data and personal information being some of the most valuable assets in today’s digital world, the disruptive force of new forms of attacks has become a serious concern. Data breaches and theft pose new forms of digital crime. The use of AI and machine learning entails collecting, storing, and accessing the passenger data collected during online flight reservations, check-in and security procedures, and operational data about the aircraft during flights. Such data is valuable for airlines, airports, travel companies, aircraft lessors, supply chain entities, and other similar related parties to tailor their services efficiently and competitively. As India experiences a rally in air travel and the use of technology to facilitate the same, the existing regulatory frameworks will need to be revisited and reassessed in light of new technology. Its implementation in the aviation sector, especially since India does not possess adequate legislation regarding data protection, except for the fundamental right to privacy underArticle 21 of the Indian Constitution, granted as a result of the landmark Supreme Court judgment of “Justice K.S. Puttuswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India”. 

Thus, to resolve the conundrums and achieve the objectives of the aviation sector and ICAO’s vision, as mentioned above, AI can be deployed safely to aviation companies. This deployment could be done by introducing a certification program for the types of machinery brought into the aviation sector. This certification would prove beneficial, not just for the consumers and the business, but would also serve as a certificate that the said AI technology allies itself with the rules in place and ensures that separate liability for the same is confirmed. This certification can be done by a subject expert, who would be an independent third party. To meet the current and future growth in air traffic, the adoption of regulations by the aviation sector is crucial to leverage AI in a significant way. Specifically, we need to implement systems and solutions that enable customers to make better choices and help airlines better manage passenger needs during irregular operations. 

AI is ushering in a new era of change in the aviation sector, which has immense potential for the collaboration of human and machine intelligence that enhances the growth of airlines. As AI seeks to magnify the passenger flying experience and make it relatively more secure, the DGCA has also been contributing to implementing AI in the Indian aviation ecosystem. Innovating funding and implementation is the need of the hour for holistic digitization in the sector. Multiple funding sources, such as Private-Public Partnerships and Governmental funding, can be explored. Developing partnerships to embrace industry knowledge, best practices, and critical solutions and technologies provides insight from planning to implementation. With the above concerns addressed, the future of Indian aviation will definitively be smarter.


The views are that of the Authors and it has nothing to do with the organization that they are associated with.

About the Authors

Ms. Anchal Nanda is a Legal Associate at KLA Legal.

Mr. Abeer Tiwari is a 4th-year B.A. LL.B student from Balaji Law College, Pune, and an Associate Editor at IJPIEL.

Editorial Team

Managing Editor: Naman Anand

Editors-in-Chief: Hamna Viriyam and Muskaan Singh

Senior Editor: Pushpit Singh

Associate Editor: Abeer Tiwari

Junior Editor: Ria Goyal

Preferred Method of Citation

Anchal Nanda and Abeer Tiwari, “Artificial Intelligence in Aviation Sector: The Road to be Taken?”


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