El futuro (o futuros) de la aeronáutica civil

HAMPTON, VIRGINIA – La aeronáutica civil va camino a convertirse en una industria “madura”, con todos los inconvenientes que esto conlleva. Durante décadas, los avances tecnológicos han sido esencialmente graduales y la industria sigue basándose mayormente en la aeronave de transporte de larga distancia, con un componente emergente de avión pequeño y un legado de mercados y productos de aviación general. Pero se ha vuelto cada vez más evidente que la industria no puede sobrevivir de esta manera.

Los problemas que atormentan a la industria incluyen la contaminación de las emisiones, la creciente competencia (especialmente de la tecnología de las comunicaciones, que ha hecho que los viajes de negocios sean menos necesarios), las demoras y deficiencias del control de tráfico aéreo, las mayores restricciones de ruido, las cuestiones de seguridad y un entorno comercial altamente dependiente de los precios del combustible. Las soluciones para todos estos problemas probablemente requerirán una reinvención completa de la tecnología aeronáutica.

La mayor esperanza ha de encontrarse en las revoluciones biotecnológica, nanotecnológica, energética y cuántica en curso. La revolución de la tecnología de la información y las tecnologías “en masa” asociadas permiten la solución más destacada: un “espacio aéreo digital” que sea totalmente automático en términos de control de tráfico aéreo, navegación y operaciones de vehículos. La operación automática de las aeronaves ya se está volviendo moneda corriente –especialmente en el ejército-, pero mayores incrementos exigirán un espacio aéreo comparablemente automático.

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