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Air Traffic Safety







Artificial Intelligence in Aviation:
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly




Of course, the ongoing debates and discourses about artificial intelligence (AI) are not just about what AI tools, applications and techniques portend for the safety-sensitive and efficiency-driven aviation landscape. Rather, the crux of the matter is about what AI and its derivative, Machine Learning (ML), portend in everyday life, be it from the way we conduct businesses, the way we organise the economy, the way we navigate issues of health and wellbeing, the way we commute, the way we communicate and all what not. To put it mildly, AI is becoming more and more popular by the day if not incrementally inching towards becoming a ubiquitous technology just as Goldman Sachs projects around $200 billion investment in AI technologies and techniques globally by 2025. And what’s more: this is raising questions surrounding the potential benefits of this rapidly unfolding technological innovation.

“The rapid growth of AI raises existential problems about its future impact on mankind, and it is critical to strike a balance between innovation and ethical considerations,” says Dr. Ifeanyi Frank Ogochukwu, a CNS/ATM and Cybersecurity Expert and Managing Director of Aviation Africa Plate-forme. “By managing these difficulties with foresight, empathy, and teamwork, we may maximise AI’s revolutionary power while minimising its risks. AI has the potential to greatly impact the future of various industries, which brings with it both significant opportunities and concerns.”

Dr. Ogochukwu expects the AI train to continue to move ahead with its large-scale incursion into mankind’s everyday life.

“Artificial intelligence (AI) provides tremendous prospects for innovation, efficiency, and growth in a variety of industries, including healthcare, finance, education, and transportation, which aviation is an integral part of,” says Dr. Ogochukwu. “It is capable of analysing massive volumes of data, identifying patterns, and providing previously inconceivable insights. AI can also help with global issues such as climate change, disease diagnostics, and poverty alleviation.”


Dr. Sallami Chougdali, an air traffic safety electronics engineer and Head of Laboratories Management Unit at the Moroccan Airports Authority’s Mohammed VI International Academy of Civil Aviation in Casablanca is really upbeat about the potential of AI. Dr. Chougdali says: “Indeed, by 2030, AI will be a determining factor and its incursion will affect all spheres of human life, such as: one, for problem solving whereby AI systems can analyze large datasets and identify patterns or trends that may be challenging humans to discern, thus aiding  problem solving and decision-making; two, for efficiency and automation where AI has the potential to automate repetitive tasks, increasing efficiency and productivity in various industries; three,  for innovation through which AI facilitates innovation by enabling the development of new technologies, products, and services that can improve the overall quality of life; four, for improved safety  in sectors like transportation where AI can enhance safety through systems like autonomous vehicles, thus reducing accidents caused by human error; and five, through medical advances where AI is making significant contributions to healthcare, assisting in diagnosis, drug discovery, and personalized treatment plans.”

Some people out there would readily give AI the thumbs up, while some would want to maintain a cautious approach to the emerging nuances and affordances of AI. There is also the school of thought that would rather choose to straddle the two sides of the aisle. Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), for example, had, sometime in June 2023, raised eyebrows when she credited AI with the potential to help rescue the failing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the globe. Bogdan-Martin, however, itemised the four areas that the pursuit of AI must address as inclusive participation, social inequalities, transparency and accountability, as well as data access, harmonization and interoperability.


  At the inaugural AI Summit that took place in Bletchley Park, England from 1-2 November, 2023, Elon Musk, owner of Tesla, SpaceX, X (formerly Twitter) and xAI, told UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, that there is 80% chance AI will turn out to be a force for good. However, at an event at Lancashire House on November 2, 2023 on the sidelines of the AI Summit, Musk cautioned that AI could potentially become history’s most disruptive force with the capability of putting everyone out of a job.

“It’s hard to say exactly what that moment is, but there will come a point where no job is needed,” Musk had been quoted by CNBC as saying. “You can have a job if you want to have a job for personal satisfaction. But the AI would be able to do everything.”

Still on the flip side of the AI debate, the trio of Cristian Alonso, Siddharth Kothari, and Sidra Rehman, had described, in a December 2, 2020 IMF Blog, how AI could widen the gap between rich and poor countries by actually shifting more investment to advanced economies where automation is already an established technology.


For Dr. Ogochukwu, AI concerns cover a wide spectrum of areas from ethical, security, and privacy concerns to job displacement and autonomy issues.

“AI decision-making raises ethical questions about bias, responsibility, and possibly unexpected effects. Ensuring fairness, transparency, and accountability is crucial for ethical AI development,” says Dr. Ogochukwu. “AI’s vast data repositories raise privacy and security concerns, with unauthorized access to personal or sensitive information posing significant risks. Significant privacy violations occurring will undermine trust in AI technologies. As AI systems become more sophisticated, robust cybersecurity measures and comprehensive data protection regulations are needed.”

“AI-driven automation could disrupt labour markets, leading to job displacement particularly in industries reliant on routine or repetitive tasks. Fear of economic disparities and societal divides intensifies. Proactive measures to reskill and upskill workforce are needed,” Dr. Ogochukwu adds. “AI’s increasing autonomy also raises concerns about human oversight and control, especially in safety-critical domains like aviation, autonomous vehicles, and healthcare, where errors can have severe consequences.”