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Speaking the right language: Airbus explores innovative voice-recognition technology for the air transport industry

The Airbus Corporate Innovation Team is investigating the use of voice-recognition software to help pilots and airline crews manage operation, underscoring the company’s focus on innovation for its customers’ benefit.

2 February 2014 Feature story

Incorporating aviation specific information and accent recognition technology, a software prototype has been developed in collaboration with Uniphore, adapting this India-based company’s off-the-shelf Nuance Dragon product, which captures voice messages and displays them as text. 

“We decided to put automated terminal information system (ATIS) recordings which provide pilots with regular information such as wind speeds, temperatures and flight levels during flights through voice-to-text software,” explained Netra Gowda of the Airbus Corporate Innovation Team. “By prototyping this idea we have a concrete vision for its development.”

To ensure end-users can easily recognize data, Uniphore also designed a digital interface that imitates the layout pilots currently use for on-paper ATIS recordings.

The voice recognition prototype was developed in four months, and Airbus and Uniphore have tested the software with airline and VIP customers in lab evaluations and flight tests. Its use for maintenance activities is also being explored. 

“We are constantly checking with potential end-users – pilots and airline crews – to understand their requirements and interest in this technology, so we can develop a relevant solution for them,” Gowda added.

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