Innovating the future

With changes to technological capabilities brought by digitalization and the need to make travel more sustainable in the near future, SAS’ innovation program is more vital than ever.

SAS has always placed innovation at the forefront of its mentality. And that philosophy, today, is driving SAS to make some of its biggest investments in two key areas of innovation – sustainability and digitalization. 

To help the airline structure its innovation-related work, a new platform has been launched called Avitech. 
“Sustainable aviation is a priority for SAS and one that will only be achieved through innovation,” says SAS Chief Information Officer Mattias Forsberg, who’s responsible for IT and digital innovation. “Our new Avitech platform will help us achieve sustainable aviation by enabling us to accelerate development and use technology as a catalyst for faster conversion.”

Under the Avitech platform, SAS has divided its approach to using innovation to achieve sustainable aviation into long-term, medium-term and here-and-now focus areas. 

The cooperation between SAS and Airbus to develop electric aircraft comes under the long-term focus area, which covers innovations that will have an impact in 10 to 15 years. The cooperation between SAS and Swedish fuel companies, such as Preem, to accelerate the manufacture of biofuels, comes under the medium-term focus area, which covers innovations that will have an impact in 3 to 5 years. 
“These are innovations that will have the biggest impact on sustainable aviation,” Forsberg says. “And these are things that SAS cannot create on its own. That’s why a big part of our innovation program involves working in partnership with other organizations.”

In the here-and-now, SAS is implementing many innovations to help reduce carbon emissions, including green flights to optimize fuel consumption, aircraft weight reduction and the use of more efficient catering services that reduce waste. 
“We also want to work with start-ups and other organizations to help us find ways to use technology to make an impact,” Forsberg says. “For example, how to use digital tools to make traveling more sustainable.” 

Photo: Shutterstock

SAS is already a leading innovator in digitalization and has developed several digital tools. It has recently, for example, launched an artificial intelligence travel assistant that gives travelers help specific to their needs, throughout their entire journey.
“An increasingly digitized world will have a huge impact on travel,” Forsberg says. “New means of transport could be developed, along with the automation of operational activities through things like AI and biometrics, all enabled through digitalization. This is why we are prioritizing digitalization, along with sustainability, as the main area for investment in innovation.” 

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