Efficiency of air transport in Europe can be increased considerably through efforts to automate the sector and link it together. The EU-funded project 'Aircraft and ATM automation symposium' (AAA) sought to achieve this goal and improve air traffic management (ATM). To achieve its objectives, the project symposium brought together key players from several sectors related to aircraft operations including airline representatives, pilots, ATM organisations, aircraft manufacturers and systems developers. The initiative also involved psychologists, aviation authorities, the European Commission and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The event attracted an important number of high-profile speakers from the different areas involved. Through the symposium, AAA gathered information on actual automation initiatives and fostered information exchange on automation projects to further their development. It published the emerging recommendations and results in a booklet that was sent to all key players. The ultimate aim was to raise the current safety level, which averages about one fatal accident every four weeks. This figure is expected to rise as air traffic doubles in the next few years. The symposium discussed the evolution in aircraft and ATM automation to increase safety, considering the performance of unmanned aerial vehicles as well, such as for freight transport. By prioritising safety, these out-of-the-box solutions could change the way aircraft are flown and save lives. The AAA project has set the wheels in motion, paving the way to exploitation of the project's valuable results.