The Future of Airports: A Vision of 2040 and 2070 (Final Release)

28 April 2020 Airport of the Future
Published by Gaël LE BRIS
Viewed 2075 times

The Airport Think Tank of ENAC Alumni has released the final report and white papers of its initiative on The Future of Airports: a Vision of 2040 and 2070. The initiative has brought together about 20 thought aviation leaders from March 2019 to April 2020 for exploring the following topics:

  • Topic No. 1: The World in 2040 and 2070
  • Topic No. 2: Sustainable Business Models and New Sources of Funding
  • Topic No. 3: Smart Airports at the Era of Information Technologies
  • Topic No. 4: Security Threats and Unlawful Activities of the Future
  • Topic No. 5: Enhancing Aviation Safety Under a Growing and More Diverse Traffic
  • Topic No. 6: Airside & Airspace Compatibility
  • Topic No. 7: Passenger Terminals and Customer Experience
  • Topic No. 8: Operational Performance and Resilience
  • Topic No. 9: Mobility and Communities
  • Topic No. 10: Sustainability and Airport-Citizens
  • Topic No. 11: Human Resources and Education





During this first phase of the project, the research team and the project panel looked at trends and potentially disruptive changes, emerging transformational innovations and their impacts on practice and challenges for air transportation, and their associated needs in research, education, and policies for anticipating and facilitating these changes. The Phase 1 deliverable includes 11 white papers and posters, as well as a summary of findings. They are available to the public on the website of ENAC Alumni. In the next phase that will start next month, the chapters of ENAC Alumni will organize local initiatives all around the world to explore how these findings can apply locally.

Gaël Le Bris (IENAC 07T), Chair of the Airport Think Tank and Principal Investigator of The Future of Airports, recognizes the contribution of the project team and the panel members to this major publication. “We spent more than a year working on this project and preparing these materials. This massive work provides a valuable insight on the long-term future of our industry. I believe these publications will raise awareness on several emerging issues, and provide meaningful perspectives for proactively prepare our airports and organizations. Aviation leaders and airport decision-makers do not always have the time to reflect on the past and think about the far future. However, some of these issues require to start making plans and acting now. The Future of Airports provides a framework to do so.”

Furthermore, Le Bris explains that “at the 2040 and 2070 horizons of our study, the world will count over 10 billion human beings. We will all face increased impacts from climate change. We will have different social expectations. Intelligence systems will be part of our daily life. How can aviation address these new paradigms and continue to provide mobility? Most importantly, as aviation professionals, we are all part of this future and we can make a difference individually if we make ethical and sustainable decisions. Aviator and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said that when it comes to the future, it is not about foreseeing it, but about making it possible. Let’s make a bright aviation future possible together.”

During this period of uncertainty due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, The Future of Airports offers a specific analysis of the situation, along with several takeaways that can help with preparing for the recovery. It reminds as well the readers that our industry has a unique long-term resilience to short-term shocks. Aviation and its people are going through hard times. But air traffic will be back and it will be a momentum for building industrywide resilience on the lessons learned of this crisis as well as pushing forward performance, innovation and sustainability agendas.

Marc Houalla (IAC 89), President of ENAC Alumni, declared that: “The Future of Airports is an important study that brings a significant value added to help us foresee long-term challenges and prepare our industry for the changes to come. The participants of The Future of Airports have provided remarkable work. I am confident that the outcome of this Think Tank will be a huge move forward for the promotion and recognition of the ENAC Alumni.”

The Future of Airports was presented for the first time at the French Moment (Moment Français) held at the Embassy of France in Washington, D.C. in January 2020. Presentations were given as well at the 99th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), Philadelphia International Airport, and WSP Snack & Learn Webinar Series.

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