The aeronautics industry faces a future marked by the development of disruptive aircraft to meet the objectives of reducing pollutant emissions, preserving operating levels and controlling costs. To meet these challenges, current research is focused on technological applications in aircraft design and manufacture, the development of production and storage technologies, and energy management.
To obtain more aerodynamically efficient aircraft, research is focused on the materials used. In this sense, one of the main advances in recent years has been carbon fiber reinforced plastic, a clear example of high-tech development in the aerospace sector, which was later transferred to other sectors. Spain has been a world pioneer in this development for which the current challenge is to reduce the manufacturing costs of carbon fiber elements and to equip the structures made with these materials with more important functions than just structural ones. This is called multifunctionality (sensing, damping, damage tolerance, electromagnetic properties, improved corrosion or adhesion, or fatigue behavior). In any case, there are currently multiple technological solutions in development in the aeronautical industry. Those who bet on drastic changes in the configuration of planes and their propulsion systems until those who introduce more gradual changes.
The research trend makes airplanes key elements of future mobility, which will tend towards intermodality, so that depending on the circumstances. Indeed, different means of transport will be combined to obtain the most efficient results in terms of cost and environmental impact. In this sense, it will be quite possible to observe planes that carry out missions in which, until now, they have played a minor role, such as urban air mobility, in which there are multiple international projects to develop 'air taxis' with or without a pilot.