Joint ECAC-EUROCONTROL Event on AI in aviation

Brussels/videoconference, 24 November 2021 - ECAC and EUROCONTROL organised a joint event on the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) for the aviation sector. The event was hosted at EUROCONTROL’s headquarters in Brussels and was attended by 34 ECAC Member States, represented by Directors General of Civil Aviation and their senior experts. The President of the ICAO Council and other European and international organisations, stakeholders and manufacturers in the aviation industry were invited as speakers.

The main objective of the event was to give a boost to both understanding of artificial intelligence and momentum behind its rapid development, for the wider benefit of aviation.

Opening the event, EUROCONTROL Director General, Eamonn Brennan, and ECAC President, Alessio Quaranta (DGCA Italy), underlined that both ECAC and EUROCONTROL chose to dedicate this event to artificial intelligence because more and more data are digital, and information technology evolves fast and continuously in all domains of our societies. This has growing impacts on the aviation sector.

Eamonn Brennan, EUROCONTROL Director GeneralAlessio Quaranta (DGCA Italy), ECAC PresidentPatricia Reverdy, ECAC Executive Secretary

Speakers from EUROCONTROL, European Commission’s DG CONNECT, EASA, SESAR Joint Undertaking, IATA, United Kingdom’s NATS, Airbus and IFATCA, as well as the Director General of Civil Aviation in Germany, and a representative of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice, gave presentations on the development of artificial intelligence-based approaches in different domains of aviation. It was agreed that AI has great potential to transform many, and perhaps all, aviation disciplines.

Artificial intelligence is not the answer to all the challenges faced by the aviation industry, but it can be part of the solution as a key enabler. The use of artificial intelligence in aviation can help in taking better, more informed, decisions; for example, to analyse higher volumes of data – amounts of data that humans cannot possibly process alone based on their own experience and knowledge.

"AI has the potential to transform our industry. And we need to ensure that while we have a pro-innovation regulatory framework, we also protect our values: safety, security, and environmental sustainability", concluded Patricia Reverdy, ECAC Executive Secretary.

The main outcomes of the event highlighted that the use of AI in the aviation industry brings a series of opportunities and challenges – such as ensuring the trustworthiness of AI applications – that need to be discussed further and addressed by ECAC Member States, in particular from a more strategic and policy perspective.