Technological advances in the aerospace industry improve sustainability, digitize legacy systems, and automate processes. Further, additive manufacturing enables rapid part development and the use of novel materials while satellite technology miniaturizes cost-effective satellites. On the other hand, blockchain improves security and transparency in aerospace operations. This report provides an overview of aerospace trends and innovations ranging from artificial intelligence (AI) and aerial mobility to immersive technologies. Read more to explore other major aerospace industry trends and how they advance your business.
This article was published in September 2022 and updated in August 2023.
Innovation Map outlines the Top 8 Aerospace Trends & 16 Promising Startups
For this in-depth research on the top global aerospace trends and startups, we analyzed a sample of 1228 global startups & scaleups. This data-driven research provides innovation intelligence that helps you improve strategic decision-making by giving you an overview of emerging technologies and trends in the aerospace industry. In the Aerospace Innovation Map, you get a comprehensive overview of the innovation trends & startups that impact your company.
Top 8 Aerospace Trends (2024)
- Artificial Intelligence
- Additive Manufacturing
- Advanced Satellite Technology
- Aerial Mobility
- Immersive Technologies
These insights are derived by working with our Big Data & Artificial Intelligence-powered StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering 3 790 000+ startups & scaleups globally. As the world’s largest resource for data on emerging companies, the SaaS platform enables you to identify relevant technologies and industry trends quickly & exhaustively.
Tree Map reveals the Impact of the Top 8 Aerospace Trends
Based on the Aerospace Innovation Map, the Tree Map below illustrates the impact of the Top 8 Aerospace Trends and Innovations in 2024. Startups and scaleups are transitioning towards sustainable operations to reduce the carbon footprint of the industry. By leveraging AI, machine learning, and deep learning, aerospace technology companies automate manual processes and flight operations to create more efficient and safer travel.
Further, cost-effective small-scale satellites conduct scientific missions and military applications. Aerospace companies also utilize the blockchain to increase supply chain transparency. Lastly, the adoption of immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) provides pilot assistance and improves training, reducing flight risks.
Global Startup Heat Map covers 1228 Aerospace Startups & Scaleups
The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights the global distribution of the 1228 exemplary startups & scaleups that we analyzed for this research. Created through the StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, the Heat Map reveals that the US sees the most startup activity, followed by the UK.
Below, you get to meet 16 out of these 1228 promising startups & scaleups as well as the solutions they develop. These 16 startups are hand-picked based on criteria such as founding year, location, funding raised, and more. Depending on your specific needs, your top picks might look entirely different.
Interested to explore all 1200+ aerospace startups & scaleups?
Top 8 Aerospace Innovation Trends for 2024
Growing concerns around climate change among travelers force the aerospace sector to reduce its carbon footprint. Technological innovations aid them to achieve this goal and transitioning to sustainable operations. For example, biofuels reduce the dependence of aerospace operations on fossil fuels to cut down carbon emissions.
Similarly, other alternative energy sources like electric flight technology enable the industry to further curb emissions. Additionally, energy-efficient integrations and novel designs also aid in improving fuel efficiency, thereby reducing emissions and fuel costs.
Metafuels offers Alternative Aviation Fuel Technology
Metafuels is a Swiss startup that develops alternative fuels for aerospace operations. The startup’s proprietary technology, aerobrew, converts green methanol into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). This technology reduces the carbon footprint by up to 80%, is environmentally friendly, and is also highly scalable. Metafuels thus enable aerospace companies to accelerate the adoption of carbon-efficient alternative fuels.
Maeve Aerospace enables Electric Aviation
Dutch startup Maeve Aerospace manufactures Maeve 01, an all-electric aircraft. It features a proprietary battery stack, up to 550 km range, and 44 passenger seats. Further, the startup offers a rapid charging technology for its plane completely charges the aircraft in 35 minutes. This makes Maeve 01 a practical alternative to conventional jets for airline operators.
2. Artificial Intelligence
The primary aim of the adoption of AI in aerospace is to automate manual processes and eliminate human errors. AI, machine learning, and computer vision, among other AI-related technologies, provide insights into the data by discovering new patterns and relations. This aids in various operations like optimizing routes, asset utilization, and improving fuel efficiency.
Moreover, AI handles more complex problems than humans in a much shorter time and offers ideal outcomes. Consequently, the technology aids critical decision-making during autonomous flight operations. AI also assists human pilots to create an ideal environment with the benefits of having both manned and unmanned maneuverability.
Skydweller Aero develops Autonomous Flight Technology
Skydweller Aero is a US-based scaleup that makes perennial flight technology through its solar-powered autonomous flight system. By leveraging AI, it performs autonomous waypoint navigation and guides the aircraft through set points.
The aircraft runs on solar power and is also retrofitted with advanced climate and data analysis modules to successfully maneuver in varied weather conditions. It assists in telecommunication, geospatial analysis, and emergency scenarios without human intervention or refueling.
Beacon AI offers AI-enabled Co-pilot
US-based startup Beacon AI leverages deep learning to improve flight safety for commercial and private aviation operations. The startup’s AI assistant works in conjunction with the pilot and acts as a safety net and advisor for them. Through this, Beacon AI reduces human errors during flights and improves overall operational efficiency. This enables pilots to conduct safer flights and airline operators to optimize resource utilization.
The aerospace industry embraces digital technologies and smart factories to ensure efficient production and faster design to delivery. Process digitization also allows aerospace companies to stay agile. Apart from enabling efficient supply chain operations, digitization advances spacecraft and aircraft operational systems. For instance, digitization eliminates data silos between internal systems and improves communication between all stakeholders.
At the same time, this data optimizes engineering processes and enables data-intensive solutions like digital thread, digital twins, and advanced analytics. This allows aviation providers and aerospace manufacturers to avoid bottlenecks and improve efficiency.
Beings Systems provides Multiphysics Flight Simulations
Beings Systems is an Australian startup that offers advanced spacecraft testing and validation services. The startup tests the aerospace systems of its clients in a zero-gravity environment and assists them in developing physical and functional aspects for practical use.
For this, it leverages digital simulation systems and small-scale flight testing by collaborating with universities and laboratories. Beings Systems thus enables small aerospace companies to test their flight systems cost-effectively and improve performance before missions.
Voyager Space offers Advanced Space Communication
US-based scaleup Voyager Space operates a space-focused communication system. The scaleup offers an alternative solution to traditional space communication using lasers and radio frequencies (RF). It enables robust connectivity between ground teams and satellites or spacecraft for improved operations. Additionally, Voyager Space develops custom digital communication solutions tailored to specific missions.
4. Additive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing has been primarily limited to non-essential aerospace parts such as interior components where mechanical stresses are minimal. But with advances in metal 3D printing, additive manufacturing has become one of the most significant aerospace manufacturing technologies. It enables aviation companies to leverage low-volume production runs cost-effectively.
Additionally, smart material allows manufacturers to deliver stronger and lighter alternatives to parts sourced from conventional materials. Further, additive manufacturing allows aerospace companies to rapidly develop prototypes, reducing development roadblocks and improving efficiency.
Wayland Additive advances Aerospace 3D Printing Machines
Wayland Additive is a UK-based startup that develops 3D printing machines for aerospace manufacturing. The startup’s electron beam additive manufacturing (EBAM) process, NeuBeam Metal AM, allows end-users to develop hard-wearing and high-temperature materials.
This enables aerospace companies to develop stronger and lighter parts such as turbine blades, structural parts, and boosters, reducing flight weight. Consequently, it lowers fuel consumption and emissions while optimizing long-term operational costs.
NematX develops Liquid Crystal Polymer Technology
Swiss startup NematX makes Nematic 3DP, a 3D printing polymer technology for aerospace applications. It combines proprietary part design algorithms and high-precision 3D printing hardware. Through this, NematX creates parts from liquid crystal polymers (LCP) that feature high thermal resistance and greater mechanical strength than polyether ether ketone (PEEK). This allows aerospace manufacturers to develop precision lightweight components and improve spacecraft performance.
5. Advanced Satellite Technology
Satellite launches make up the majority of commercial space activities, and this trend is expected to further grow in the near future. The primary driver is the falling costs of launching satellites into orbit and the growing need for geospatial intelligence and satellite imagery.
Satellite miniaturization enables pico and nanosatellites that are easily launchable and in scale. The need for global connectivity for the internet of things (IoT) integration also drives satellite-based communication systems. Further, additive manufacturing optimizes satellite production and maintenance while enabling in-orbit services.
Dragonfly Aerospace provides Satellite Buses
Dragonfly Aerospace is a South African startup that builds outer space CubeSat deployment platforms. uDragonfly Bus is a 100 kg satellite bus that accommodates small sats and equipment such as electro-optical imagers and high-speed scanning devices for earth observations.
Similarly, Dragonfly Bus is a larger satellite bus capable of carrying larger payloads and sensors. This enables startups and small satellite manufacturers to launch satellites into lower earth orbit (LEO) in an affordable manner.
Citadel Space Systems develops Nanosatellite Platforms
UK-based startup Citadel Space Systems manufactures nano- and pico-satellite platforms for commercial and scientific applications beyond LEO. The startup’s smallest platform, Squire, features an onboard computer that makes rapid calculations on deep space missions. Other platforms, Longbow, Knight, and Paladin, have unique mission-specific capabilities for various applications in research, discovery, and education.
Blockchain uses public-key encryption for high-level data security and greater network resiliency to avoid a single point of failure. As the aerospace industry relies on complex supply chains, blockchain improves access and visibility into supply chain data.
Additionally, access rights and entitlement management is automated by leveraging blockchain to enable better traceability and tracking. Blockchain also allows aerospace manufacturers to enable secure, traceable, and shareable records across all supply chain stakeholders. Consequently, this allows manufacturers to identify inefficiencies and mitigate potential bottlenecks.
VeriTX simplifies Digital Supply Chain Tracking
VeriTX is a US-based startup that makes a platform to regulate aerospace supply chains. It allows aerospace companies to digitize end-to-end supply chain operations. Moreover, all the actions are recorded in blockchain-based digital records, which improves process traceability. This data allows companies to leverage predictive and prescriptive maintenance as well as enable reverse forensics upon incidents. As a result, the startup reduces operational and maintenance costs.
Aerotrax Technologies streamlines Aircraft Maintenance Management
Aerotrax Technologies is a US-based startup that utilizes blockchain to track aircraft component lifecycle. The startup’s platform, aerotrax operating system (aOS), offers a single source of tracking by recording their validated service records on a distributed ledger system.
The information is also utilized in Aerotrax’s digital supply chain network for seamless transactions between operators, suppliers, and maintenance providers. This enables aviation companies to improve maintenance tasks, thereby reducing turnaround time and improving customer satisfaction.
7. Aerial Mobility
Advances in aerial mobility include advanced air taxis as well as drones for hyperlocal deliveries and emergency services, among others. Faster flight technologies like supersonic and hypersonic flights also show a growing resurgence with the aim of reducing air travel time for customers.
Further, electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) technology see rapid developments in recent years. It reduces aircraft carbon footprint and drives novel use cases by operating in small confined spaces. This includes short-route transportation, military applications, last-mile delivery, and more.
Tetra Aviation provides eVTOL Technology
Japanese startup Tetra Aviation develops eVTOL-based single-seat flying crafts. The startup’s commercial aircraft platform, Mk-5, assists valuable personnel such as doctors and first responders to be transported to emergency areas. They include disaster locations where mobility is restricted.
Hermeus offers Hypersonic Flights
Hermeus is a US-based scaleup that develops hypersonic aircraft. The startup’s proprietary hypersonic engine, Chimera, reaches Mach 5 speeds. Hermes’ other aircraft, Halcyon and Quaterhorse, are hypersonic passenger and engine performance testing aircraft. The startup’s flight technology thus allows airline operators to reduce flight times for long-haul air travel as well as increase safety.
8. Immersive Technologies
Immersive technologies find application in aerial military operations and for aerospace employee training. They aid visualization of navigating systems, air-traffic control, weather airspace information, and many other workflows.
Immersive technologies such as VR and AR allow engineers and pilots to mitigate complex learning mechanisms. They also enable operators to work in virtual environments and view composite structures. At the same time, AR provides an added layer of information for pilots through helmets or glasses and assists them in operating aircraft more efficiently, thereby reducing the chances of mishaps.
Aries enables Virtual Aviation Training
Aries is a UK-based startup that offers VR-based pilot training solutions. The startup’s platform, Virtu Pilot, combines AI and VR to access interactive content. Aries’ virtual environment allows trainees to operate cockpit layouts, aircraft procedures, and other flying attributes. This enables aerospace companies to train pilots and allows flight instructors to assist trainees remotely, reducing manual errors.
Fyr offers Augmented Flight Glasses
US-based startup Fyr provides a head-mounted AR-based visualization system to augment the vision of pilots. The startup’s solution allows pilots to visualize their surroundings and assists them during flight simulations and training. The glasses provide a 3D field of view and additional situational awareness.
Discover all Aerospace Trends, Technologies & Startups
The aerospace industry is transitioning to climate-conscious technologies to reduce carbon emissions. Advances in AI automate operations and enable autonomous flights while small satellites aid low-cost operations. Smart materials and 3D printing will also reduce production and performance bottlenecks. Ultimately, aerospace innovations power high-speed mobility and cost-effective aerial missions.
The Aerospace Trends & Startups outlined in this report only scratch the surface of trends that we identified during our data-driven innovation and startup scouting process. Among others, supersonic flights, satellite communication, and AI will transform the sector as we know it today.
Identifying new opportunities and emerging technologies to implement into your business goes a long way in gaining a competitive advantage. Get in touch to easily and exhaustively scout startups, technologies & trends that matter to you!