Autonomous Aircraft Market Size & Share Analysis - Growth Trends & Forecasts (2024 - 2029)

The Autonomous Aircraft Market Report is Segmented by Aircraft Type (Fixed-Wing and Rotary-Wing), Application (Cargo Aircraft and Passenger Aircraft), End-User (Commercial and Defense), and Geography (North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa). The Report Offers Market Size and Forecast for all the Above Segments in Value (USD).

Autonomous Aircraft Market Size

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Autonomous Aircraft Market Summary
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Study Period 2019-2029
Market Size (2024) USD 6.64 Billion
Market Size (2029) USD 14.61 Billion
CAGR (2024 - 2029) 17.07 %
Fastest Growing Market North America
Largest Market North America

Major Players

Autonomous Aircraft Market Major Players

*Disclaimer: Major Players sorted in no particular order


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Autonomous Aircraft Market Analysis

The Autonomous Aircraft Market size is estimated at USD 6.64 billion in 2024, and is expected to reach USD 14.61 billion by 2029, growing at a CAGR of 17.07% during the forecast period (2024-2029).

The autonomous aircraft market is going through a transformative phase, driven by the intersection of safety regulations, technological advancements, and collaborative initiatives within the aviation industry. Safety enhancement and cost efficiency emerge as primary drivers, echoing the aviation industry's quest for innovative solutions to improve operational efficiency. There is a constant target for reducing the dependence on traditional pilot-centric models and increasing air safety through automation that surpasses human performance in certain scenarios.

The autonomous aircraft market faces substantial restraint in the form of regulatory challenges and public perception about no-pilot flying. The FAA and other aviation authorities are certifying the safety of autonomous systems, but the public's trust in pilotless flights remains a significant obstacle. Moreover, concerns from pilot unions and the broader public about removing the human element persist, requiring authorities to maintain a delicate balance to integrate autonomous systems in aircraft successfully.

Despite these challenges, technological advancements, especially in machine learning and AI, are propelling the autonomous aircraft industry forward. Companies like Xwing are conducting automated test missions and planning to equip autonomous systems onboard cargo aircraft.

Autonomous Aircraft Market Trends

Autonomous Cargo Aircraft to Witness Rapid Market Share Growth During the Forecast Period

Cargo planes are expected to be the first to adopt this autonomous aircraft technology. In passenger flights, safety and the lives of people are given paramount importance, and thus, the adoption of autonomous aircraft should start after continuous and rigorous testing is done. This is not the case with cargo aircraft, as the level of life risk is zero with the use of autonomous aircraft in cargo planes. The growth in the e-commerce industry is driving the demand for air cargo, which may increase the demand for air cargo pilots in the future.

Most of the developments in the autonomous aircraft market are aimed at bringing autonomous cargo aircraft into commercial use to fill in the gap due to the pilot shortage. For instance, in May 2023, Xwing was awarded a contract by the US Air Force to conduct pilotless cargo trials. As per the terms of the contract, Xwing will coordinate the identification of best use cases for autonomous flight operations with the Air Force and military stakeholders. Xwing will also conduct test flights that include a fusion of flight control systems, auto takeoff/landing, Detect-and-Avoid (DAA) systems, auto braking, auto taxi, and remote operations software to enable autonomous operations on the Cessna 208B platform. 

Autonomous Aircraft Market: Air Freight Volume, in Million Metric Tons, Global, 2018-2022

North America is Expected to Continue its Market Share Dominance During the Forecast Period

Currently, the US is increasingly focused on the development of autonomous aircraft. Though the usage of autonomous aircraft has witnessed a slight setback due to the current regulatory framework in the commercial aviation sector, persistent R&D in the military sector for autonomous aircraft has been driving the growth of the market studied.

Technological advancement, which is high in countries like the US, has led to the development of advanced autonomous aircraft. These can adapt to changing conditions as well as handle flying situations without any human intervention. For instance, in December 2022, as a part of the Skyborg Program, the US DoD tested the autonomous F-16 jet VISTA X-62A for more than 17 hours of autonomous flight. In the test simulation, the VISTA jet operated by AI engaged in fighter maneuver skills and simulated dog fights, and AI outperformed the human pilot. The US military also tested the first flight of a Black Hawk helicopter in November 2022. Lockheed Martin provided a model following algorithm (MFA) and a system for autonomous control of the simulation (SACS) updates for the VISTA jet before testing. 

In the future, autonomous aircraft are also envisioned to be adopted on a wide scale for air cargo operations. This has encouraged the initiation of several R&D projects and fostered the entry of new players in the autonomous aircraft ecosystem. For instance, in July 2023, Ribbit, a cargo airline startup developing software for autonomous flight, signed a USD 1.3 million contract with Transport Canada and Innovative Solutions Canada to begin testing self-flying aircraft in remote regions. Such developments are expected to boost the growth of the market studied in the North American region.

Autonomous Aircraft Market: Market CAGR (%), By Region, Global, 2022

Autonomous Aircraft Industry Overview

The autonomous aircraft market is still incubating. Hence, it is consolidated in nature as a handful of players such as The Boeing Company, Airbus SE, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Textron Inc., and BAE Systems plc dominate market share, especially in the defense sector. However, most of the technologies being tested in the autonomous aircraft market are already the design standards in the UAV industry. 

Hence, it still trails in the measure of innovative developments in passenger and cargo-carrying applications. Nevertheless, there are certain inherent capabilities exclusive to autonomous aircraft when compared to UAVs, such as endurance. The relatively new concepts are opening many opportunities for players to venture into the market.

Autonomous Aircraft Market Leaders

  1. Airbus SE

  2. BAE Systems plc

  3. Northrop Grumman Corporation

  4. Textron Inc.

  5. The Boeing Company

*Disclaimer: Major Players sorted in no particular order

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Autonomous Aircraft Market News

July 2023: The US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's (DARPA) Tactical Technology Office awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation a contract to develop an autonomous vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) uncrewed aircraft system capable of operating from a moving Navy ship at sea.

May 2023: Xwing was awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research Contract (SBIRC) with the US Air Force's AFWE Prime program. Under the agreement, Xwing will carry out independently conducted flight tests using its Superpilot helicopter system to improve the development of remote piloting and optimize technology for future missions. The trials will be conducted on the Cessna 208B to obtain feedback from users as quickly as possible in terms of user convenience, mission planning factors, and functions for future efforts.

Autonomous Aircraft Market Report - Table of Contents


    1. 1.1 Study Assumptions and Market Definition

    2. 1.2 Scope of the Study




    1. 4.1 Market Overview

    2. 4.2 Market Drivers

    3. 4.3 Market Restraints

    4. 4.4 Porter's Five Forces Analysis

      1. 4.4.1 Bargaining Power of Suppliers

      2. 4.4.2 Bargaining Power of Buyers/Consumers

      3. 4.4.3 Threat of New Entrants

      4. 4.4.4 Threat of Substitute Products

      5. 4.4.5 Intensity of Competitive Rivalry


    1. 5.1 Aircraft Type

      1. 5.1.1 Fixed-wing

      2. 5.1.2 Rotary-wing

    2. 5.2 Application

      1. 5.2.1 Cargo Aircraft

      2. 5.2.2 Passenger Aircraft

    3. 5.3 End-user

      1. 5.3.1 Commercial

      2. 5.3.2 Defense

    4. 5.4 Geography

      1. 5.4.1 North America

        1. United States

        2. Canada

      2. 5.4.2 Europe

        1. United Kingdom

        2. France

        3. Germany

        4. Italy

        5. Russia

        6. Rest of Europe

      3. 5.4.3 Asia-Pacific

        1. China

        2. India

        3. Japan

        4. South Korea

        5. Rest of Asia-Pacific

      4. 5.4.4 Latin America

        1. Brazil

        2. Mexico

        3. Rest of Latin America

      5. 5.4.5 Middle East and Africa

        1. Saudi Arabia

        2. United Arab Emirates

        3. Turkey

        4. South Africa

        5. Rest of Middle East and Africa


    1. 6.1 Vendor Market Share

    2. 6.2 Company Profiles

      1. 6.2.1 Northrop Grumman Corporation

      2. 6.2.2 The Boeing Company

      3. 6.2.3 Lockheed Martin Corporation

      4. 6.2.4 RTX Corporation

      5. 6.2.5 Elbit Systems Ltd

      6. 6.2.6 AeroVironment Inc.

      7. 6.2.7 Saab AB

      8. 6.2.8 BAE Systems PLC

      9. 6.2.9 Airbus SE

      10. 6.2.10 Textron Inc.

      11. 6.2.11 IAI


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Autonomous Aircraft Industry Segmentation

Autonomous aircraft can be defined as an unmanned aircraft that does not require pilot intervention in the management of the flight.

The autonomous aircraft market is segmented by aircraft type, end-user, application, and geography. By end-user, the market is segmented into commercial and defense. By application, the market is segmented into cargo aircraft and passenger aircraft. The market is segmented by aircraft type into fixed-wing and rotary-wing. The report also covers the market sizes and forecasts for the autonomous aircraft market in major countries across different regions. For each segment, the market sizing and forecasts have been done based on value (USD).

Aircraft Type
Cargo Aircraft
Passenger Aircraft
North America
United States
United Kingdom
Rest of Europe
South Korea
Rest of Asia-Pacific
Latin America
Rest of Latin America
Middle East and Africa
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
South Africa
Rest of Middle East and Africa
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Autonomous Aircraft Market Research FAQs

The Autonomous Aircraft Market size is expected to reach USD 6.64 billion in 2024 and grow at a CAGR of 17.07% to reach USD 14.61 billion by 2029.

In 2024, the Autonomous Aircraft Market size is expected to reach USD 6.64 billion.

Airbus SE, BAE Systems plc, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Textron Inc. and The Boeing Company are the major companies operating in the Autonomous Aircraft Market.

North America is estimated to grow at the highest CAGR over the forecast period (2024-2029).

In 2024, the North America accounts for the largest market share in Autonomous Aircraft Market.

In 2023, the Autonomous Aircraft Market size was estimated at USD 5.51 billion. The report covers the Autonomous Aircraft Market historical market size for years: 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023. The report also forecasts the Autonomous Aircraft Market size for years: 2024, 2025, 2026, 2027, 2028 and 2029.

Autonomous Aircraft Industry Report

Statistics for the 2024 Autonomous Aircraft market share, size and revenue growth rate, created by Mordor Intelligence™ Industry Reports. Autonomous Aircraft analysis includes a market forecast outlook for 2024 to 2029 and historical overview. Get a sample of this industry analysis as a free report PDF download.

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Autonomous Aircraft Market Size & Share Analysis - Growth Trends & Forecasts (2024 - 2029)