The autopilot system market is poised to grow at a CAGR of above 5% during the forecast period 2020-2025. An autopilot system is used to automate the process of guiding and controlling the aircraft. A typical autopilot system can automate multiple tasks, such as attitude and altitude maintenance, rate of climb and descent, course interception and guidance, etc.
- The market is driven by the enhanced safety requirements of the aviation industry. The advent of fly-by-wire (FBW) concept necessitates the integration of advanced flight computers onboard an aircraft. Furthermore, to ensure optimal safety levels and enhance the situational awareness of the pilots, the global aviation regulatory agencies have mandated the installation of an autopilot system, in conjunction with the flight director system.
- The development of advanced aircraft capable of automated flights is driving the ongoing R&D aspect for aircraft autopilot systems and is anticipated to enhance the business prospects of the market players once the technology is fully developed and becomes commercially feasible.
Scope of the Report
To provide a comprehensive outlook, the autopilot system market encompasses the different companies that offer both autopilot and flight director software and hardware components. Market estimates are based on linefit installations of autopilot systems into the cockpit of new generation aircraft being procured by airline operators around the globe and do not include retrofitting of old generation aircraft. Furthermore, the report does not take unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into account but considers rotorcraft and experimental demonstrators such as NASA X-57.
Key Market Trends
Demand for New Aircraft Driving Market Prospects
During 2013-2018, global air passenger traffic grew by 38.88% between 2013 and 2018. To address the passenger traffic growth, airline operators have initiated procurement drives for new generation aircraft. Around 1,830 new commercial aircraft were delivered globally during 2018. The dominant aviation regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), have mandated the installation of an autopilot system in a commercial aircraft for addressing several safety concerns.
Military powerhouses, such as the US and China, are focusing on increasing their military aircraft fleet to gain a technological edge over their rival forces. While numerous military aircraft prototypes are being developed, several military procurement programs are currently underway to cater to the global demand for military aircraft. Military fighter aircraft manufacturers are trying to enhance their production capabilities to ensure timely deliveries. The F-35 JSF program is one of the most successful military fighter program ever. Since the F-35 JSF program constitutes around 25% of Lockheed Martin Corporation’s annual revenue, the company envisions to enhance its F-35 JSF production capacity from 131 aircraft in 2019 to 149 in 2020 and 169 from 2021. The F-35 JSF features an electro-hydrostatic flight control actuation system from Moog, Inc., while the actuators are supplied by Parker Hannifin Corp. Therefore, the demand for new aircraft would subsequently create a parallel demand for autopilot systems.
Increasing Demand from Asia-Pacific
On the commercial front, by 2025, China is forecasted to become the world’s largest aviation market in terms of air traffic. During the same period, India is forecasted to develop into the world’s third-largest aviation market, while other countries such as Indonesia and Thailand are forecasted to enter the top 10 global markets. The demand for new aircraft is driven by ever-growing passenger traffic in the region. As of September 2019, there were 411 narrow-body aircraft and 160 wide-body aircraft delivered to this region by various aircraft OEMs.
On account of the profound changes in the international strategic landscape, the configuration of the international security system has been undermined by the growing hegemonism, unilateralism, and power politics that has fueled several ongoing regional conflicts. To enhance military prowess, several countries, such as China and India have resorted to new procurements for effectively responding to security threats and accomplish urgent, critical, and dangerous strategic missions. Modern fighter aircraft are equipped with advanced autopilot systems and flight computers for augmenting the overall situation awareness of the pilot. An increase in demand for aircraft is anticipated to bolster the business prospects of the market players in the region during the forecast period.
Besides, air traffic, the emerging security environment, fueled by the growing geopolitical unrest in several countries, is resulting in the growing demand for aircraft. In order to gain long-term contracts and expand global presence, players are investing significantly toward the procurement of new aerial assets. Furthermore, continuous R&D has been fostering the advancements of accuracy and efficiency of integrated autopilot technologies and associated subsystems.
The aircraft autopilot market is moderately fragmented, with a handful of global players present in the market. Some of the prominent players in the market studied include BAE Systems plc, Collins Aerospace (United Technologies Corporation), Honeywell International, Inc., Moog, Inc., Meggitt PLC, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Safran SA, among others.
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