One highlight has been the recent focus of our Future of Air Mobility Accelerator which is targeted at companies providing innovative solutions in data driven aviation, smart airports and advanced air mobility.
However, one challenge stood out to the Connected Places Catapult team and our sector stakeholders: how to optimise the experience of all airport users. We wanted to explore how stakeholders across the ecosystem can collaborate to make airports – and by implication, aviation – more accessible.
The challenge of accessibility deserved a deep dive. We wanted to understand accessibility of the current air travel experience, from the perspective of the traveller. We also looked at the challenges faced in terms of delivering accessible air travel at UK airports, from the perspectives of airports, airlines, contracted assistance service providers and organisations developing interventions for accessible travel.
We then set about identifying actions which support more accessible air travel, before finally considering the enablers and barriers to both innovating and adopting new accessibility concepts.
Connected Places Catapult has spoken to the travelling public, disability travel advocates, airlines, airports, and SMEs (small to medium sized enterprises) developing interventions via interviews, including two airport site visits and a stakeholder workshop. While we know we are only scratching the surface of this multi-layered, complex, but pressing issue, we needed to gather a set of opportunity areas upon which to focus further research and trials.
And what better way to learn more than through a living lab methodology?
A living lab could play host to technologies, systems and processes designed to enhance passenger experience and freight management. It could boost productivity and accelerate the decarbonisation of ground and air operations, including the electrification of flight, the use of hydrogen, automation, data analytics and multi-modal, connected surface-level access. This is why Connected Places Catapult and Glasgow Airport were so excited to announce the UK’s first Connected Airport Living Lab in February this year.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority, airlines, UK airports and Catapult value the importance of providing an accessible experience for all those travelling through the airport. The living lab provides an exciting opportunity for stakeholders to review concept demonstrators of accessibility provision and to provide feedback on the value of these. Later this year we look forward to testing the new applications and interventions which will both enhance and provide a more inclusive air travel experience.