Are We Ready?

Are We Ready?

As we head into the 2021 holiday season and, fingers crossed, out of the pandemic, it would be a good time to ask ourselves, “Are we ready?”

We’ve had a lull like no other, at any time in the history of aviation. But pent up demand and that ever-familiar urge to explore, visit, reconnect, see family, get away and travel is rumbling. Some folks think it’s going to be huge — an overwhelming return to pre-pandemic levels of travel and beyond.

“We’re seeing a lot of pent-up demand in our data and are offering a December schedule that centers on the two things people want most for the holidays: warm sunshine and fresh snow,” said Ankit Gupta, vice president of network planning and scheduling at United. “We know families and friends are eager to reunite this holiday season, which is why we’re thrilled to add new flights that will help them connect and celebrate together.” United says they plan to offer more than 3,500 daily domestic flights in December, representing 91% of its domestic capacity compared to 2019.

So, are we ready? To answer that question, we have reached out to experts across many sectors in our industry from avionics companies to software providers to innovators taking on the challenge of turning hydrogen into energy for use in aircraft to see what is being done to continue down the path to safer, more efficient, greener, quieter travel.

We begin a two-part story that gives an update on CNS/ATM (communications, navigation and surveillance/air traffic management). We will continue our coverage in the next issue as we focus on this path that was started more than 20 years ago.

I can remember discussions at the aircraft manufacturer I worked at in 1999 and the chief engineer stating that CNS/ATM really stood for “cool neat stuff…all takes money” because it all seemed so futuristic back then. Here we are, 20 years on.

What has been accomplished? What is happening now? Where are we going next in this realm?

Things like CPDLC (Controller Pilot Data Link Communications), a two-way data link system that allows air traffic controllers to deliver non-urgent strategic messages to an aircraft as an alternative to voice communications are helping. The message is displayed in the cockpit on a flight deck display. We’ll also take an in depth look at this topic in an upcoming issue. Let us know if you would like to participate in that story.

The Belgian air navigation service provider skeyes says they will be relying on a CNS drone specially developed by Skyguide to check the performance of navigation aids. They say the use of the drone will help improve measurement procedures and reduce emissions. The goal of the CNS drone is to “provide more accurate results by picking up signals from the air, which are then monitored and verified from the ground using built-in software,” they say. The drone is already in use at Geneva and Zurich airports since 2018, where it is reportedly helping to reduce the number of flight checks, lower maintenance costs and minimize noise.

The SESAR JU-funded project SlotMachine is another interesting program. It aims to develop a solution, enabled by blockchain technology, to automate flight exchanges between different airlines. Watch for our coverage of blockchain and all of its potential to benefit aviation in an upcoming issue — please let us know if you have expertise in this area — we would love to speak to you about it.

Next, let me direct you to our story about software implementations, which can be difficult, to say the least. We asked MRO software providers to give some real life examples of how the implementation process goes and how to make it smoother.

We spoke to the experts at EmpowerMX, Rusada and Ultramain to see what advice they could give to help those considering making the leap and implementing a new software system.

We got real world information about actual implementations — invaluable if you plan to install software soon.

We also wanted to learn the latest about efforts to reduce the environmental impact aviation has on our world. Before the pandemic, this was a major concern and it will be, again soon. We talked to companies like Safety Line, Honeywell and StorkJet to learn about their products that can help operators make a difference. Big data plays a key role in this effort. This story makes it clear: reducing emissions and saving money go hand-in-hand. Learn more in the piece by Ian Harbison.

Now let’s talk about something really innovative. Hydrogen has been batted about as a potential source for aviation fuel for years — decades even. Storage logistics, production capacity, certification and economic feasibility are some of the many challenges that will need to be addressed if the hydrogen revolution comes to fruition

In our story, “Will Hydrogen by the Key to Sustainable Aviation?” writer Andrew Reilly spoke to some of the key players making headway in this complex challenge — truly interesting reading, full of food for thought.

We also hope you’ll check out our space feature story, all about Ingenuity, the helicopter uniquely designed to fly on Mars.

It completed its first successful flight in April of this year and continues to provide data and new insights into our planetary neighbor.

An old friend and former editor-in-chief of Rotor & Wing, Jim McKenna, wrote an amazing story about this remarkable feat and what it means for the future. You won’t want to miss that story.

If you are joining us in Toulouse on 3-4 November for Aerospace Tech Week — welcome and thank you for coming! We’ve missed you. You will find the show guide within the pages of this publication starting on page 35 — look for the divider page for quick reference.

We are excited to spend time together, in person, and to finally be conducting business face-to-face. Enjoy the conference.