Robert joined Roland Berger’s London office in 2000 as an expert in the aerospace, defence and aviation sectors. He advises clients mainly in the aerospace and defence industry, including many of the world’s leading companies in these sectors. His consulting activities focus on strategy, mergers & acquisitions and operational performance improvement.

The constant change in the aerospace sector can be very exciting, there is always something new to explore.



What do you find most interesting about the aerospace sector?

The constant change within the sector – there is always something different going on, and some new area to explore, whether in design, development, production, or after-sales support.


What is your prediction for the future of the UK aerospace sector?

It all depends on whether the UK is prepared to invest in a High-Value Design centre in order to protect and enhance our ability to control and influence the early stage of design of the next generation of aerospace platforms. If so, then I can see the UK continuing to prosper in the aerospace sector; if not, I think that there is a very real risk that our skills and influence will atrophy, and the aerospace sector will follow other UK industrial sectors into long-term decline.


What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

To step back from the detail and pressures of day-to-day (or minute-to-minute) activities and think about the situation from a strategic perspective. I learned this from my Director of Studies at Cambridge, and have never forgotten it.


What are your key successes to date?

Working on some of the largest and most challenging new aircraft and engine programmes within the aerospace sector. I have been very fortunate to have been close to many of the most high-profile activities within the sector, and to have been able to work with various organisations at the forefront of the challenges which the industry faces.


Describe your ideal day away from work?

Based on my summer holiday, a good walk in the mountains of Colorado. I finally managed to finish the Colorado Trail this year, and relished the peace and quiet away from work with no phone signal.


Who inspires you the most?

From a work perspective, Peter Drucker. I have just been re-reading The Effective Executive – written in the 1950s, this book still has great lessons for today on subjects such as prioritisation and time management.


What is your golden rule?

Every project is different, and there is always something interesting within each project, particularly in aerospace.


Robert will be one of our keynote speakers at ATI Conference 2017: Realising Ambition, and will be speaking on Day One.



Paul is Chief Technology Officer at Airbus, where he leads the research, technology, and innovation activities across the company globally and is responsible for technologies for future generations of Airbus products and services. Previously, Paul was the founding CEO of A3, Airbus’ Silicon Valley innovation center charged with pursuing projects disruptive to the core business.

Before joining Airbus, Paul was an executive at Google, Motorola, and DARPA. Earlier in his career, he was an aerospace design engineer, the chief engineer for an unmanned aircraft program, and a management consultant focusing on technology, innovation, and M&A strategies. Paul has undergraduate and Master’s degrees in aeronautics from MIT and Caltech, respectively, and a law degree from Georgetown University. He is also a licensed pilot.

Imagine what you would do if you knew you could not fail.

What attracted you to the aerospace sector?

The chance to work on some of the most complex and majestic products that our civilisation has ever devised.


What is your vision for the UK aerospace sector in the next 15 – 20 years?

I think it’s foolish for me to try and predict anything 15-20 years into the future! The tech and the world changes far too quickly for that. The UK has been a leader in aerospace for the past century. It has the ingredients of a top-notch education system, an entrepreneur-friendly business environment, concerted government investment, and a pioneering spirit, to maintain and build further on this position in the future. We just have to make sure these ingredients stay in place!


If you could change one element of technology, or a particular type of technology in the sector, what would that be?

I would ask the genie to give us an infinitesimally light, emission free, and infinitely powerful source of propulsive energy.


What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Imagine what you would do if you knew you could not fail. Now go do that anyway.


What are your key successes to date?

For me, the most gratifying part of any job is getting something to fly (or launch) for the first time. And I am proud of the fact that this has happened in pretty much every job I’ve had.


Describe your ideal day away from work?

Wine. Books. Friends & loved ones. Somewhere beautiful.


Who inspires you the most?

My partner, Rolan Flournoy, who is the happiest person I have ever met.


What is your golden rule?

Stay flexible and avoid golden rules.


Paul will be one of our keynote speakers at ATI Conference 2017: Realising Ambition, and will be speaking on Day One.

Russ joined GKN in 2013 as VP Chief Engineering and assumed the role of Senior Vice President Engineering, Technology & Quality in December 2014. Prior to joining GKN, he spent 17 years at Airbus in a variety of technical leadership roles most recently VP Head of A350 XWB Wing Engineering responsible for wing structures, movables and systems installation for all A350 XWB derivatives. For the A350 XWB-900, he led the development from early concept development through detailed design, manufacture and assembly through to successful flight test. He has a BEng in Aeronautical Engineering and German from Bath University.

Balance your attention between the things which excite you, the things that need to be done, and the things which sustain you.

What attracted you to the aerospace sector?

I was always the type of child who wanted to know how everything worked, taking apart cameras and video players, and anything that I could get my hands on. My grandad was in the RAF, and an aircraft appeared the ultimate mystery. I simply wanted to understand how on earth they got off the ground!


What is your vision for the UK aerospace sector in the next 15 – 20 years?

The Aerospace industry contributes massively to the society we live in, but we also owe it to that society to absolutely minimise our environmental impact. Over many decades, we have developed more efficient products using advancements in digital capabilities. Those capabilities have continued to develop at an unbelievable pace, and offer us the opportunity to totally re-think the way we develop products. The UK has a fantastic aerospace infrastructure which can enable us to embrace and lead in the integration and application of those technologies, to make quality in design and manufacturing a global differentiator.


If you could change one element of technology, or a particular type of technology in the sector, what would that be?

I would want to break down the boundaries between design and manufacture, and develop engineers with a broad digital skillset. This will enable our engineers to fully exploit the rapidly developing digital capabilities, to explore the science of manufacture and the science of product design in equal balance.


What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

To water your garden. To balance your attention between the things which excite you, the things that need to be done, and the things which sustain you (like your family).


What are your key successes to date?

During my time at Airbus, I led the development of the A350 Wings from initial concept through to successful flight test. It was 6 years of obsession, attempting to achieve challenging targets on performance, quality, schedule, process… ultimately leading to the delivery of a fantastic aircraft.

Within GKN, I have been given the opportunity to transform the technical organisation, putting in place processes and developing technologies which position us for the future.


Describe your ideal day away from work?

It would start with an early morning run or bike ride, followed by breakfast with my kids and perhaps a couple of games of FIFA with them. Then watch my son play rugby for his club, followed by meeting my wife and daughter for lunch. A game of golf with friends, with at least 1 shot I can talk about afterwards, before returning home and getting ready to go out for food and drinks with friends. That sounds pretty much perfect to me.


Who inspires you the most?

My wife, who as well as being massively clever and kind, is also the most effective person I know. She seems to be able to work full-time, get 100 things done an hour and still have time to think about her family and friends and what she can do to make their lives easier or happier.


What is your golden rule?

I am not sure I have one. I have lots of things I care about, and I try to act in line with my principles, but I wouldn’t describe any of them as a golden rule, more a developing understanding of what is important to me.


 Russ will be one of our keynote speakers at ATI Conference 2017: Realising Ambition, and will be speaking on Day One.


The Advanced Engineering Show took place at the NEC on 1st – 2nd November, showcasing a large collection of supply chain opportunities, technology case studies and innovation partnerships under one roof. The Aerospace Technology Institute’s (ATI) Head of Technology Mark Summers, and Lead Technologist Paul Clarke, attended and presented at the event.


Mark Summers presented an overview of the Institute’s technology strategy Raising Ambition and spoke about the challenges and opportunities of composites in aerospace.


Mark Summers said:

The ATI’s technology strategy supports a wide-range of applications for composite development in aerospace. We have taken a lead in facilitating discussions and workshops with stakeholders to understand the current composite capabilities in the sector, and the drive to explore future technology innovations around composite materials.


Working in collaboration with Composites UK and other stakeholders, we are helping to shape and develop a UK Composites Strategy by developing composite technology roadmaps.


The joint strategy, due to be launched next year, will enable the UK composites community to grow their businesses and succeed in the competitive global market.


The event hosted a number of keynote speeches, including a presentation delivered by Paul Clarke around industry 4.0 and the ATI’s perspective on digital. Paul spoke about the opportunities of digital technology and how it has the potential to shake up the aerospace industry.


Paul said:

Our technology strategy Raising Ambition highlights digital transformation as a priority technology investment. It is a specific enabling capability that can significantly impact the whole sector.


The sector has full order books and forecasts growth of more than 90 per cent over the next twenty years. We have to learn how to seize that growth, not only today, but also in the long term. The adoption of digital technology can enable the UK sector to benefit from growth and development opportunities, capturing a greater share of the global market.


The Institute continues to provide international leadership on digital transformation in the aerospace sector. In February we published an INSIGHT paper on Digital Transformation, where we set the scene and explored the current digital landscape, identifying key technologies and capabilities of digital in aerospace.  The paper includes a Digital Framework developed by the Institute to help organisations understand where they are currently on the digital journey today, and what steps need to be taken to embrace and adopt digital processes.


Paul went on to identify the aerospace priorities as referenced in the Government’s newly published Made Smarter review led by Professor Juergen Maier. The ATI led the input from an aerospace perspective into the report (please see appendix 1, page 134 of the report).

Alongside our main conference programme and keynote presentations, day two of the conference will feature a series of themed breakout sessions – offering delegates an opportunity to attend two sessions each.

Breakout sessions 1-5 will run in the morning, and sessions 6-10 will take place in the afternoon.

Delegates will need to choose one session from breakout sessions 1 – 5 and one session from breakout sessions 6 – 10, and register their choices by 3rd November. Details on the breakout sessions are below.

The full agenda for the conference, which is now sold out, is available here.

Breakout Session 1
Theme: Propulsion of the Future
Title: Delivering the Next-generation Aero Engine

Delivering Ultra-High Bypass Ratio turbofan by 2025 is critical to capturing the next wave of major propulsion opportunities. The ATI’s R&T portfolio supports significant developments in new propulsion architectures, technologies and manufacturing capabilities to improve competitiveness and accelerate introduction of new turbofan engines. This propulsion themed breakout session will bring together speakers from a range of industrial organisations and academia to explore related ATI project case studies and new opportunities for next generation aero engines.

Breakout Session 2
Theme: Aerostructures of the Future
Title: Factory of the Future

Looking ahead, with the rise of digital manufacturing and step change technologies will impact OEM core technologies and disrupt the supply chain, challenging the UK competitiveness in the global market place.

This session will aim to explore key technologies that are considered to be ‘disruptive opportunities’ within a future materials and manufacturing industrial environment. The focus of the discussion will be on how:

  • Future Factory concepts will define an Industry 4.0 future that facilitates the seamless connection of the entire end-to-end value chain that is enabled through an integrated vertical and horizontal supply chain
  • Composites technology solutions will be developed to meet industry challenges through the evolving adoption of new materials and higher rate demands
  • Innovation within the motorsport industry that could be applied to the aerospace sector
  • Additive Manufacturing technology challenges need to be addressed to ensure that the sector is best placed to introduce substitution components and next generation platform primary components
  • Analysis of Process and Product Verification challenges and solutions could enable significant improvements in productivity and performance, and enable digital supply chain integration

Breakout Session 3
Theme: Smart, Connected and More Electric Aircraft
Title: More Electric Systems

Complex aircraft systems will play an increasing role in ensuring affordable, safer and more efficient air transport. More electric technologies are progressing within current and planned R&T projects, although the overall roadmap for more electric aerospace technology in the UK still needs to be articulated and delivered. Over the next 20 years, the large aircraft market is expected to drive significant demand for new and upgraded systems. The UK systems community is world class, with capabilities widely spread across the sector and beyond.

This session will bring together a diverse set of speakers from a variety of industrial organisations and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, to explore related ATI project case studies, and realise new opportunities for more electric systems – building on the support the Institute provides in connecting the technologies, facilities and capabilities of industry and academia.

Breakout Session 4
Theme: Aircraft of the Future
Title: Whole Aircraft Operations

The UK’s whole aircraft capabilities are essential to the sector’s overall success. The ATI is working to build a more strategic approach to sustaining and developing these capabilities.

In the development of technology there is a strong need to think about the implications affecting other parties that are involved in the full life-cycle of the product. Focusing on technology development, this diverse session will delve into the role of the regulator and airline operator, and explore how enhanced and innovative technology could improve flight deck interaction with crews, and the potential impact of reduced flight crew on larger commercial aircraft.

Breakout Session 5
Theme: International Collaboration
Title: What are the Challenges and Opportunities Associated with International Collaboration?

The development of aerospace technology is an international endeavour: the aerospace supply chain is global in nature, and both UK-headquartered aerospace companies, and major global companies with a presence in the UK, provide a route to the global aerospace market for a diverse and extended supply chain of innovative SMEs. By collaborating internationally, organisations can gain access to partners with skills and experience not readily available in the UK; strengthen relationships with major overseas companies to position themselves for future opportunities, and allow organisations to gain access to facilities and infrastructure not accessible in the UK.

This session will consider the challenges and opportunities associated with international engagement, focussing on the rationale for international cooperation, the potential impact of Brexit and opportunities for collaboration that are on the horizon.

Breakout Session 6
Theme: Propulsion of the Future
Title: Future Propulsion Systems

Efficiency improvements will require more radical propulsion architectures, including world class capability in propeller systems technology and critical technology infrastructure to enable future propulsion architectures to be developed and matured. This session will bring together a diverse set of speakers from a variety of industrial organisations and academia, to explore ATI technology case studies relating to propulsion and consider new challenges in future propulsion systems.

Breakout Session 7
Theme: Aerostructures of the Future
Title: Enhance and disrupt future architecture concepts

The UK is a world leader in the design, manufacture and integration of wings and also provides components and sub-assemblies for nacelles, empennages and fuselages. In the next decade, opportunities are expected for improved wing tips, nacelles and other structural and aerodynamic updates that enable installation of new, larger engines onto existing narrow and wide-body aircraft.

The session will review current aerostructures capabilities, ATI structures portfolio highlights and future disruptive architecture concepts, including:

  • Wing of Tomorrow Programme portfolio analysis of key challenges and case studies of existing project activities
  • Portfolio of work that delivers into several platform opportunities, levering disruptive technologies, process and tools, and architecture concepts, demonstrated through several key ATI case studies
  • Nacelle capabilities for next generation aircraft platforms focussing on architecture development, verification and validation, and aerodynamic performance
  • Defence industry technology developments for current and next generation platforms that are adopting innovative technology breakthroughs to deliver enhanced capability.

Breakout Session 8
Theme: Smart, Connected and More Electric Aircraft
Title: Intelligent Systems

Embedded sensors and software are making aircraft more intelligent, leading to improved platform availability, reduced crew workload and an overall enhancement of aircraft safety. Intelligent systems deploying System-on-Chip, multi-core processors or safety critical software will be critical for securing and growing UK systems capability in aerospace. In addition, these technologies are applicable across other sectors. This session will bring together a variety of industrial organisations to explore the challenges in developing complex systems and how the UK can become grow as a of centre of excellence amongst the systems community.

Breakout Session 9
Theme: Aircraft of the Future
Title: Smarter, Greener, Cleaner Aircraft

There is a need for future aircraft to be quieter, greener and more fuel-efficient. This will require a step-change in design and technology developments. Major drivers for technology development within the ATI strategy has been, and will continue to be, fuel burn and the environment.

The topics discussed during the session will explore the overall environmental imperative, including a more detailed look at community noise.  In the same context, a particular new UK air vehicle concept will be addressed, as well an opportunity to see the online tool developed by the ATI to help the sector understand how changes in technology will affect aircraft attribute.

Breakout Session 10
Theme: Market Opportunity
Title: Aerospace Market Trends & Key Market Disruptors

The Aerospace Technology Institute maintains a market aligned technology strategy based on a view of potential future aircraft development opportunities over the next 20 years. There are many factors driving the outlook for aircraft development both on the demand and supply side of the market. On the demand side, industry is forecasting strong growth with new passenger aircraft worth US$6.2 trillion to be delivered between 2016 and 2035. However, disruptive market forces and technology trends for e.g. Digital, are reshaping the aerospace sector, forcing companies to reconsider how they operate and innovate. Whilst some of these disruptors offer exciting opportunities, others present clear challenges.

This session will consider key market trends and the major disrupters that would shape the aerospace sector over the next 20 years. Experts from consultancies, airlines and airports will share their views on key market disruptors in the aerospace market followed by a panel discussion and Q&A.


The Government has been urged to help the UK become the world leader in the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI): to boost productivity, advance health care, improve services for customers and unlock £630bn for the UK economy.

Experts from industry and academia have unveiled new proposals for how Government can work with industry to stay ahead of the competition and grow the UK’s use of AI across the economy – from smarter scheduling of operations in health care, to hiring on-demand self-driving cars.

The Industrial Strategy Green Paper, published in January, identified AI as a major, high-potential opportunity for the UK to build a word-leading future sector of our economy.

The independent review, Growing the Artificial Intelligence Industry in the UK, was announced as part of the Digital Strategy in March, and led by Dame Wendy Hall, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, and Jérôme Pesenti, Chief Executive of BenevolentTech. The reviewers were asked to report on how this pioneering technology can best thrive and grow in the UK and will inform BEIS and DCMS policymaking relevant to this exciting new sector.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

Artificial intelligence presents us with a unique opportunity to build on our strengths and track record of research excellence by leading the development and deployment of this transformational technology. This important review exemplifies the world-class expertise the UK already has in AI, demonstrating the huge social and economic benefits its use can bring. We will continue to work with the sector in the coming months to secure a comprehensive Sector Deal that make the UK the go to place for AI and helps us grasp the opportunities that lie ahead.

The report makes 18 recommendations for how to make the UK the best place in the world for businesses developing AI to start, grow, and thrive including:

  • Skills: increasing the UK’s AI expertise through new initiatives including an industry-funded Masters programme, and conversion courses to bring a broader range of people into the field;
  • Increasing uptake: helping organisations and workers understand how AI can boost their productivity and make better products and services, including public services;
  • Data: ensuring that people and organisations can be confident that use of data for AI is safe, secure and fair by making more data available, including from publicly-funded research; and
  • Research: building on the UK’s strong record in cutting-edge AI research, including making the Alan Turing Institute a national institute for AI.

These recommendations will now be carefully considered in discussions towards a potential Industrial Strategy sector deal between Government and the AI industry.

As part of the Industrial Strategy, the Government has increased investment in research and development over the next 4 years by £4.7 billion to create jobs and raise living standards, including through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The Business Secretary announced in April that the first £1 billion of investment is being made in six key areas in 2017/18, driving progress and innovation that will create opportunities for businesses and sectors across the UK. More information can be found on the BEIS web site here.

This year’s SAE AEROTECH international conference was held at the International Conference Centre in Fort Worth, Texas. The event is a platform for the latest in aerospace technology and capabilities, across a broad range of disciplines – including whole aircraft validation, structures, systems and propulsion. Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) technology experts Paul Clarke and Mark Summers attended the conference and the International Steering Committee Group meetings.

The conference was opened by Orlando Carvalho, Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin’s aeronautics business. Orlando spoke about how Lockheed are pushing the boundaries of technology, with a particular focus on four key areas: sensor fusion, hybrid wing body tanker, next-generation unmanned aircraft, and compact fusion.

Orlando also shared Lockheed’s future vision of integrating a nuclear fusion reactor into an aircraft, moving towards a demonstration stage.

Kristen Baldwin from the Department of Defence shared some of the cyber security challenges the Department faces, and spoke about the pace and rapid application of commercial off-the shelf technology (something that will be discussed in more detail in the Institute’s forthcoming cyber security blog).

David Seymour, Senior Vice President for Integrated Operations at American Airlines, described the challenges around data for his organisation. American Airlines (AA) is in the process of a major aircraft renewal program; as part of this activity AA is developing a strategy to better leverage the benefits of data. David spoke about some of the challenges of the seamless integration of data, systems capabilities, fleet capabilities and how they are employing new skill sets, working differently with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and developing capabilities in new technologies such as machine learning to continue the organisation’s data evolution.

There was a strong digital focus throughout many of the presentations and the conference itself. The content was wide ranging, from cyber security to complex modelling and simulation of components, manufacturing process, systems validation and cabin management. Bombardier presented their approach to a whole aircraft validation platform, sharing the company’s vision of working with their supply chain to improve their time to market and connectivity.

Paul Clarke, ATI’s Lead Technologist, said:

Attending the SAE digital and data steering group enabled the Institute to present a UK perspective on its priorities around digital transformation in aerospace. This follows on from the progress the ATI has made on influencing the adoption of digital into the aerospace sector, and echoes some of the findings published in our INSIGHT paper on Digital Transformation.

Two major independent reports have been published in 2017 that show the beneficial impacts of government funding for innovation on the performance of UK businesses.

The first report, published in March 2017, was an independent study commissioned by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).  The research conducted by Frontier Economics used a ‘propensity score matching’ approach and looked at the impacts on business survival, employment and turnover for up to 5 years after receiving government support for innovation projects (up to 2013).

The method involved matching companies that had received funding from Innovate UK to similar companies that had not (based on sector, size, company age etc.) to create a suitable control group. The study then compared the relative performance of these companies and found that the innovation funding had a statistically significant impact on the future outcomes of these companies. These companies were found to be more likely to grow quicker and much less likely to go bankrupt.

Table: Key headline results of the impact of innovation funding on business performance

Business Survival Effect Employment Effect Turnover Effect
+15% (from 75% to 90%) 30-40 extra people £5-10m extra revenue

Source: BEIS (March 2017), The impact of public support for innovation on firm outcomes

A second report was published in August 2017 by the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) by researchers from Warwick and Aston Business Schools. That study took a similar approach, although it reviewed a broader range of innovation funding to include the UK Research Councils, as well as Innovate UK.

The results showed that companies who participated in research projects grew their turnover and employment 6% faster in the three years after the project and around 25% faster in the six years after, compared to similar companies, which did not receive innovation funding support.  The study also identified that the impacts were larger for companies in high-technology manufacturing sectors.

Peter Willis, Senior Economist at the Aerospace Technology Institute, said:

Both of these reports highlight the very positive impacts that public funding for innovation can have on the performance of UK businesses. Investing in technology is vital to ensure that UK businesses are able to grow and improve the productivity of the wider UK economy”.

Previous ATI publications have highlighted the benefits of government support to technology and innovation more broadly, in terms of the impacts on business performance, crowding in private investment and large spillovers that benefit the wider UK economy.

Peter said:

It’s not easy to use control groups in the aerospace industry to test the effectiveness of R&T funding, so we rely on a variety of different methods including modelling, project case studies and long-term monitoring and tracking of project outcomes. Plans are already in place with BEIS for future impact evaluations of the ATI programme”.

The ATI has developed extensive market and economic modelling capabilities to project the potential impact of industrial strategy and R&T funding on the aerospace sector.  In a recent ATI INSIGHT, Economic Impact of UK Aerospace Industrial Strategy, the ATI’s analysis suggests Government investments in aerospace could be benefiting the UK by more than £100 billion (both direct returns and spillovers) over the next 20 years, creating and safeguarding 95,000 UK jobs.

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