Ahead of The Future of Aerospace forum taking place in London on Wednesday 21 March, we asked Malcolm Scott, Corporate Development Officer, Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), for his thoughts on some of the key issues that the aerospace sector is currently facing.
What are the key drivers of technological advancements across the aerospace sector?
Safety is an overriding concern. Flying is very safe, but the market is growing at around 5 per cent per year, putting more pressure on aircraft, airlines, and the aviation system. Safety must improve to reduce the accident rate further as the market grows. Another critical area is the environment; the concerns of global warming, noise and air quality around airports – especially against the background of growing air traffic - create pressure for lower-emission, lighter and quieter aircraft. Thirdly, the growing market also places a premium on aircraft that are reliable, robust, and affordable to make and operate. Fourthly, there is much scope for improving the passenger experience, for example providing a pleasant cabin and enabling customers to use the internet. All of these challenges demand complex and advanced technology to be resolved, not just in engineering but in the new cross-cutting areas of digital, data, autonomy, and electronics.
In which ways will funding for the UK aerospace industry be affected post-Brexit?
Brexit throws up many issues for aerospace – in the UK and on the continent - from product and safety regulation, through market access and ease of trading, to cooperation on research and development. The UK must therefore continue to focus on driving up the competitiveness of its world-class industry to maintain its global importance.
How can coordination efforts be improved across and between supply chains in the UK, in order to ensure the UK can remain a sustainable international industry leader?
The supply chain currently has a major opportunity to support primes as they respond to the pressures of higher production, cost control, and the environment. Many supply chain companies are using programmes such as SC21, Sharing in Growth, and NATEP (the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme) to raise their performance. The Aerospace Growth Partnership has also formalised a supply chain charter, signed by the UK’s major aerospace companies. This is an excellent starting point for improving coordination in supply chains.
How can we engage more young people across the UK in the aerospace sector, to future proof the industry with a high-skilled and diverse workforce?
Bringing in more talented people from all backgrounds is a pressing problem for aerospace, as for many other sectors of the economy. Many of the major companies have large and wide-ranging apprenticeship schemes. The sector at large needs to embrace apprenticeships and to continue to engage with young people to promote the exciting and rewarding careers that aerospace offers.
To hear more from Malcolm, alongside John Morlidge, Head of Aerospace, Innovate UK, and take the opportunity to engage in these discussions, join us at The Future of Aerospace Forum on Wednesday 21 March 2018.