What Will the Twenties Bring?

First, for those of you joining us, welcome to Toulouse, France for Aerospace Tech Week. We are ready for some incredible presentations, workshops, training, networking and fun. This is our first event in Toulouse and we look forward to exploring the area, including an avgeek’s dream – taking a tour of the Airbus facilities here. I hope you are excited as we are for this week.

Next I want to, once again, welcome you to the pages of Aerospace Tech Review, the second issue of our event’s companion publication. Within these pages you will find stories on topics covering the same areas as the conference. Additionally, the show guide is located inside this issue and that begins on page 43. You will find schedules, the floorplan, exhibitor listings – everything you will need to follow the events of Aerospace Tech Week. Please use our app as well. Scan the QR code on the cover to get it.

Now let’s talk about the future by first looking at the past. During the Roaring Twenties, a decade in beginning in 1920 the world experienced a period of economic prosperity. The economy has certainly been roaring along these past few years. Will it continue or will economic conditions take a radical turn with Brexit, pandemics and black swan events we can’t even imagine yet? If anyone has an accurate crystal ball, please do tell. In the meantime, businesses must prepare for anything and look for opportunities for growth no matter what the economic conditions are. To that end, we are gathering in Toulouse, in spite of the COVID-19 outbreak, because business must go on.

As we look to the future and what is coming next in our industry, let’s start with Industry 4.0 a much talked about initiative about all things digital. According to Deloitte, “Industry 4.0 combines and connects digital and physical technologies—artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, additive manufacturing, robotics, cloud computing, and others—to drive more flexible, responsive, and interconnected enterprises capable of making more informed decisions.” These are areas that are crucial to aerospace and in many cases aerospace is leading the way.

Deloitte also says that supply chain is “a top area for both current and prospective digital transformation investments, indicating that supply chain initiatives are a top priority.” Please read our column from David Grasso and Chris Brumitt from Maine Pointe Aviation’s aerospace and defense practice about the digital supply chain. Grasso and Brummit say there is a need for “widespread cultural change throughout the aerospace and defense industry and acceptance of the need for new supply chain digitization efforts.” You can see their recommendations starting on page 120.

Next, we have to stress the environment and the sea change taking place in our society as we face global climate change. Climate change impacts aviation and may cause some to re-evaluate their travel needs, even though the aviation industry accounts for only 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions. In February, Delta Air Lines committed $1 billion over the next 10 years to mitigate emissions from its global business. The airline says it will “invest in driving innovation, advancing clean air travel technologies, accelerating the reduction of carbon emissions and waste, and establishing new projects to mitigate the balance of emissions.” A billion dollars.

In our inaugural issue, ICF’s Martin Harrison discussed the climate change issue and how it may impact aerospace. “Public awareness is increasing, especially among the younger generations. They may not have made up their minds to fly or not yet, but maybe younger generations will select the most environmentally-friendly carrier in the years ahead. Consequently, the bottom line is that aircraft will need to be even more efficient.” You can read that commentary in our digital issue at http://www.aerospacetechreview.com.

It seems incredible to throw the term sea change around but there is another movement underway and it’s happening faster than we can imagine. Urban air mobility and drone usage is coming, ready or not. This is a classic case of lead or be left behind. But what will this mean for the current airline flight deck? Consultants at Deloitte feel that “although commercial aircraft manufacturers are increasingly relying on automated flight controls, including automated cockpits, the commercial aerospace sector is aiming to transition to fully automated flight decks.” Futuristic -yes. But with the current lack of trained and experienced pilots, this seems more realistic than ever.

There is also a clearer path forward to hybrid electric and electric flight propulsion. Rolls-Royce invested by acquiring the electric and hybrid-electric aerospace propulsion activities of Siemens last year. “We are at the dawn of the ‘third era’ of aviation, which will bring a new class of quieter and cleaner air transport to the skies,” said Rob Watson, director – Rolls-Royce Electrical.

While China’s aviation infrastructure is still young, the predicted boom there is slower than anticipated and COVID-19 will surely slow things even more. “The formerly expected boom in China-U.S. air travel is going to deflate in 2020, big time,” is a prediction made by Jeremy Bogaisky from Forbes Aerospace & Defense.

In spite of the 737 MAX problems, Boeing will not only survive, but will thrive again. The Boeing/Airbus duopoly isn’t going anywhere.

Bogaisky also predicts that by 2025, U. S. transatlantic flights from midsize airports will be routine. “New aircraft such as the Airbus A321XLR will make nonstop flights economically possible from points such as Albany, Grand Rapids, Louisville and Columbus,” he predicts. You can read more about new and emerging aircraft platforms in Thom Patterson’s update on page 112.

We also have stories including Navigating the Darkness of Cybersecurity Risk with advice on protecting systems from unauthorized access on page 20; flight needs created by FANS equipage on page 28; updates on predictive maintenance on page 34; the GADSS initiative for flight tracking on page 102; and a cool look at the structural testing needed before an aircraft can be certified starting on page 94.