Let’s begin with a definition of a digital twin.  According to IBM, a digital twin is a virtual model designed to accurately reflect a physical object. The real object is then equipped with sensors to measure different types of performance functionality in different situations. This data is then used to create the digital twin. Companies can use the twin to run simulations that would not be possible with the real object and learnings from these simulations can define improvements for the original object being studied.

So how would this work in aviation?  When it comes to avionics and airplanes it’s easy to imagine how this technology could be used to improve engines, airplane design and avionics systems for example. But what about air traffic control, is it possible that digital twins could play a role here? There are some indications of this direction.

In 2020, Airservices Australia created a digital replica of Australian airspace, including all of the aircraft and weather within the airspace. This cutting-edge digital twin could be used to more accurately predict, collaborate and respond to changing requirements and requests, enabling highly precise predictions and effective data-driven decision-making. This project was conducted in partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies and Deloitte. It was even awarded the 2020 ISG Paragon Award (APAC), in the "Imagination' category for its innovation approach to data-driven prediction technology which revolutionises air traffic management by enhancing real-time decision making for a safer and more reliable service to customers. You can learn more from their short video.

Egis Aviation is another organisation using digital twins and looking ahead for opportunities in air traffic management – both manned and unmanned. They are currently using this technology to predict slot availability in an airport project. There appears to be many opportunities for digital twins to play a role in advancing human-machine cooperation to enhance human decision-making capabilities.

This article is just a short highlight to mention this topic. We’ll be adding more content about this topic in the coming weeks/months.