We would like to thank Geraldina Iraheta, Director, Business Development at Digital Catapult for writing a guest blog for the Institute.

Look to the skies in the UK and if you can see an unobstructed blue canvas for more than five minutes, without an aircraft passing overhead, buy a lottery ticket. The UK aerospace industry is booming. In fact, it’s the largest in Europe and second only to the US, with its trade association, ADS Group, reporting sales in the sector of £31.8bn last year – up 8% on the previous 12-month period1.

Why the boom?
The worldwide economy is growing and there are now more economically empowered people travelling more frequently. This scenario of course places massive pressure on Airlines and their supply chain to continue expanding and upgrading fleets to cope with this burgeoning demand. Testimony of this is the fact that Boeing is predicting growth to $5.2tn of aircraft orders over the next 20 years.

Sounds simple enough but it’s not, because, as always, such exponential growth doesn’t come without its associated growing pains. Aerospace OEMs are scrambling to meet this dramatically rising global demand head on – but they are having to do this unsafe in the knowledge that their supply chains are most certainly not equipped to take the strain. In fact, there are so many associated challenges facing UK aerospace and defence industries at present that it’s becoming harder for manufacturers to see the wood for the trees.

The challenge landscape is looking ever broader
With a need to reduce time to market by ~40% to keep up with demand, deep supply chains, and a decades-long after-market, aerospace organisations are most certainly facing a wide variety of challenges ranging from multi-level supply chain visibility to supply authentication, certification of people and components, and beyond.

China is doing things faster, cheaper and seemingly better than the rest of the world, forcing others to play catch up, in a hurry. But how can those organisations really do it quicker when they have to keep a constant eye on stringent certification standards to ensure that their products are safe and reliable, yet still cost-effective? And that’s just for starters. Probably the biggest issue is not being able to keep a finger on the pulse of their supply chains when so many OEMs have outsourced elements in the manufacturing process.

A more distributed manufacturing environment has created a supply chain that is far more complex than ever before in multiple dimensions – cross-company, cross-industry, cross-border, cross-culture, etc., leaving some suppliers with more questions than answers.

Making molehills out of mountains
However, as proven by the Wright brothers in 1903, with the right technology and a large degree of brainpower, these challenges can be easily overcome. Aircraft OEMs and tier one suppliers need to follow the trail blazed by the automotive industry and lay down a robust base to meet rising demand by developing closer and more collaborative relationships throughout the supply chain, encompassing all tiers of supplier.

This means sharing tools and techniques, and taking a more proactive, open and common approach to risks. Easier said than done as there remains a cultural barrier and as such a legacy in the aerospace industry where most manufacturers would rather keep their cards close to their chest than share low risk data that would be mutually beneficial to all parties involved. Okay it’s often easy to blame OEMs and tier ones for this, but the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) is perfectly placed to convene the industry to identify low risk opportunities for collaboration that will start to change the culture of the industry.

As a starter for ten, there are a number of innovators developing solutions that can provide supply chain visibility, allowing prediction of supply and demand that would help all tiers of the aerospace supply chain. One of these is Valuechain who provide smart manufacturing software that helps organisations to improve productivity, streamline collaboration and generate intelligence.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is making for a connected supply chain
IoT allows for the analysis, cross-referencing, and application of collected data faster than ever thought possible. In the aerospace industry it is being used to offer better operation and control, material management, staff and passenger information management, data analytics, and more importantly in this instance; inventory and operations planning, manufacturing and supply chain optimisation. IoT technologies are a logical enabling technology, assuming we change the attitude about collaboration. Using IoT devices, aerospace manufacturers can connect products and assets together to enable dynamic scheduling and flexible factory automation, where multiple products can be managed through the same factory, or across the entire supply chain.

New levels of connectivity such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), 5G and Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) offer the breadth of solutions from real-time, low latency data transactions between machines, to wide ranging asset tracking and condition monitoring solutions. Looking through this new lens, it’s not too difficult to see how easy it is to gather data for just about any application and there are many IoT analytics platforms that exist to drive value out of it.

Through our Just in Time project, Digital Catapult is working with Airbus and DFKI to deploy IoT solutions that provide workers with personalised workplace support using AI-based services. It supports on-the-spot problem solving through smart step-by-step instructions that react to the workers’ actions. Microlearning is provided just-in-time fitting to a situation. The system uses sensor data collected during the work processes through advanced future networks to detect potential problems and skill gaps.

Taking a leaf out of the book of Bitcoin
Aside from finance, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is starting to really gain traction in major industries such as music, energy and gaming, and now aerospace. Today it is already seen as the great enabler to address specific aerospace and defence industry challenges by supporting secure collaboration, and process coordination across OEMs, suppliers, and operators.

With the widespread application of parts pooling both within an airline’s own fleet and as part of wider pooling programmes, DLT would ease the back-office burdens of maintaining compliance with reporting requirements for lessors and owners in respect of the temporary and permanent replacement of parts. It may also simplify the management of a wider parts pool and provide users with a shared validated point of information on availability and timings.

Use of the words ‘would’ and ‘may’ above would probably lead many to believe that the use of DLT in the aerospace industry is a bit of a pipe dream at present, but it most certainly is not. There are already many use cases for using DLT in its digital transformation efforts and range from creating a hardened and traceable supply chain that supports secure collaboration and process coordination across OEMs, to optimising maintenance, certifying personnel, monitoring training logs, licensing of IP, and beyond.

According to Aviation Today, James Kornberg, director of innovation of Air France KLM said of Distributed Ledger Technology uptake, “In the aviation industry we still have a lot of our data that is not digitised, still a lot of analogue data, the first step, and that’s what we’re doing at the moment is going to a fully digital solution on all the supply chain and all the aviation data that we get.”

It’s a case of adapt or die
Transforming a diverse, highly competitive and bureaucratic industry like aerospace will not be easy, but we now have the digital transformation technologies to hand to begin to build this future. Our hope is that multiple industry players can pull together to produce collaborative small scale experimental deployments of idealised systems and use this vision to alleviate corporate inertia.

The ATI (last year) published an INSIGHT paper on Digital Transformation; exploring the potential for digital transformation in aerospace and examining the maturity of the UK aerospace sector’s digital capability. The paper has been informed by surveys of, and interviews with, industry leaders (both internal and external to the sector) conducted by the ATI. The paper also includes a digital framework representing the possibilities of digital technologies. The framework enables companies to assess where they are on the digital journey and their direction of travel.

In fact, underlining the relevance and impact of the ATI’s research and the growing necessity for end-to-end digital transformation of the aerospace industry, Digital Catapult has already begun discussions with major aerospace suppliers to help them explore digitisation of their internal processes through the use of IoT, Distributed Ledger Technologies, Virtual Reality, and Machine Learning. Results of that engagement will be forthcoming at a later stage.

 

Please note that a guest blog provides an external independent perspective, and does not necessarily represent the views of the ATI.

Source: 1Telegraph: How big is the UK Aerospace Industry

Peter Hoffman is Vice President of Intellectual Property Management for The Boeing Company, the world’s largest aerospace company. Hoffman is responsible for strategies that protect and generate the highest possible value from this significant corporate asset. Hoffman specifically manages the company’s patent portfolio; protection of trade secrets; and licensing of technical data, images, consumer products, trademarks and patents. Hoffman, 57, reports to Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop.

Before his current appointment, Hoffman served as director of global research and development strategy for Boeing Research & Technology, the company’s advanced research organization. In that role, he was responsible for developing technology collaboration relationships with companies, universities and national laboratories around the world.

Hoffman played a leadership role in the expansion of Boeing’s global technology engagement, and he was instrumental in the establishment of research centres in Australia, India and China and numerous technology relationships in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.

Hoffman earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering technology and a master’s of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Tennessee, a master’s of manufacturing engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, and a master’s of international business from St. Louis University. Hoffman is a board member of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre Group at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, an Advisory Board member at the University of Tennessee College of Engineering, and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

 

I’m inspired by the people and teams at Boeing that make it look easy, when I know it is very difficult.

 

What attracted you to the aerospace sector?

I was mechanically inclined as a child and enjoyed drawing and have always been amazed by flying machines.  Seeing an aircraft or space ship take flight still inspires me to this day.

 

What is your vision for Boeing’s future in the UK?

Boeing already has a strong presence in the UK; Boeing and its legacy companies have supported the Royal Air Force and commercial customers in the United Kingdom for 80 years.  We’ve also doubled our own workforce in the UK since 2011, and our spending with the UK supply chain–about £2.1 billion last year alone–has since tripled.

We are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to meet our customers’ needs.  I am excited that we’re building our first European manufacturing facility in South Yorkshire. Boeing Sheffield will open up a range of new opportunities for local employees, suppliers and partners and will expand our long-term relationship with UK industry, academia and government.

  

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

Streamlining the path to certification.  The rate of change and ability to leverage new innovations is often inhibited by the cost and time required to gain certification for new technologies.

 

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

When asking a trusted mentor many years ago about a full-time career move to international sales, he advised that I stay on my current path of keeping one foot in the technical world and one in the business world.  I took that advice and the white space between these worlds has made for very interesting work.

 

What are your key successes to date?

My most rewarding professional moment to date has been seeing Boeing break ground for Boeing Sheffield in September of this year.  Boeing Sheffield will be a 6,200-square metre building located adjacent to the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), a world-class research campus that Boeing co-founded with the University of Sheffield in 2001 and a partnership that I have been a part of since its inception.  It feels like 16 years ago we had a vision and a dream, and that dream has come true.  Boeing Sheffield for me symbolises how brave and open-minded Boeing is, and I’m honoured to work with inspirational visionary colleagues every day.

 

Describe your ideal day away from work?

A strong cup of coffee in the morning catching up on the news and pottering around my kitchen followed by getting some exercise and spending time with my family in the evening enjoying a good meal and a movie.

 

Who inspires you the most?

My Boeing teammates.  It is truly amazing the level of expertise and innovation it takes to be a leader in the aerospace industry and I’m inspired by the people and teams at Boeing that make it look easy when I know it is very difficult.

 

What is your golden rule?

Treat others as you wish to be treated

In April 2017, Paul Stein was appointed to the Executive Leadership Team as Chief Technology Officer.

Paul joined Rolls-Royce in 2010 as Chief Scientific Officer and for two years acted as the Engineering and Technology Director for the Company’s Nuclear business in addition to his Chief Scientific Officer responsibilities. His most recent role was Director of Research & Technology, accountable for the company’s global investment in R&T, as well as fostering innovation and promoting and sustaining specialist engineering talent.

Paul was Director General, Science and Technology, at the UK Ministry of Defence immediately prior to joining Rolls-Royce. Before that, he was Managing Director of Roke Manor Research and in 2003 was appointed to the Siemens UK Executive Management Board, leading technology and contributing to business strategy.

Paul holds an Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree from King’s College, London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

 

Never underestimate the ability of technologists to solve difficult problems, especially when they’re not told it’s difficult.

 

What attracted you to the aerospace sector?

Aerospace propulsion and the conquest of flight is one of mankind’s most interesting challenges. It beats anything else I’ve worked on.

 

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

That the UK aerospace industry will remain competitive on a global scale with existing technologies while rapidly preparing for the future. Whatever tomorrow brings, the industry will be ready for it. The UK has an outstanding aerospace industry and over the next 15 years it will continue to produce more sustainable, more advanced and more impressive technology, and will become the centre for key areas of global research.

 

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

I think one element that needs to change is to accept we now live in multi-disciplinary world where the solution to any challenge may lie in combinations of traditional and emerging technologies. We need to be less ‘stove piped’ in our outlook on technology.

 

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

Never underestimate the ability of technologists to solve difficult problems, especially when they’re not told it’s difficult.

 

What are your key successes to date?

The repositioning of Rolls-Royce from a mechanical engineering company to a company which views engineering and technology on a broader landscape. It makes me very proud to guide the team of incredible and dedicated Rolls-Royce employees that are driving this change.

 

Describe your ideal day away from work?

A quiet day spent with my Raspberry-Pi projects – finishing off all the projects and ideas that I have started but never quite had the time to complete.

 

Who inspires you the most?

I draw inspiration from all of the outstanding engineers and scientists that I have worked with. Each one of them has shared or taught me something that is unique, contributing to me a little bit in their own way.

 

What is your golden rule?

The principle I try to stand by at all times is to always assume positive intent in others.

 

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

Dr Fassi Kafyeke joined Bombardier in 1982. In 1996 he became Chief of Advanced Aerodynamics, responsible for the design and testing for all Business Jets, Regional jets and the CSeries airliner. In 2007 he became Director of Strategic Technology and since 2015 is a Senior Director and a member of the Bombardier Product Development Engineering Leadership team, responsible for technology innovation, products innovation and Eco-design.

Fassi Kafyeke has an Aerospace Engineering Master’s degree from Université de Liège, a Master’s degree (Air Transport Engineering) from the Cranfield Institute of Technology and a PhD (Aerodynamics) from École Polytechnique de Montréal.

Always seek excellence, even if it requires more effort upfront, because excellence is always the best choice.

 

What attracted you to the aerospace sector?

The dream of flying and the challenge of designing beautiful airplanes.

 

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

The UK aerospace sector has all the elements needed to succeed in the future:  A strong aviation tradition, a diversified industrial foundation, and key universities and research centres specialised in aviation. With continued strong support from the UK government for collaborative research and technology, the sector can focus its research on key technology areas that will help ensure its future competitiveness.

 

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

Thermodynamic propulsion.  We still need to burn fuel to power airplanes, thus producing noise and greenhouse gases.  If we could move to electric propulsion, this would make our industry cleaner.

 

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

To be always rigorous and seek excellence

 

What are your key successes to date?

The very innovative airplanes produced by Bombardier and sold worldwide in the business jet and commercial airline markets.  Innovations include the Belfast-generated composite wing technology for the C Series aircraft.

 

Describe your ideal day away from work?

A quiet day in a botanical garden with a good historical thriller book.

 

Who inspires you the most?

In my profession, Theodore Von Karman

 

What is your golden rule?

Always seek excellence, even if it requires more effort upfront, because excellence is always the best choice.

 

 

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

 

Dr Jaiwon Shin is the NASA Associate Administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. In this position he manages the agency’s aeronautics research portfolio and guides its strategic direction. This portfolio includes research in the fundamental aeronautics of flight, aviation safety and the nation’s airspace system.

Dr Shin co-chairs the National Science & Technology Council’s Aeronautics Science & Technology Subcommittee. Comprised of federal departments and agencies that fund aeronautics-related research, the subcommittee wrote the nation’s first presidential policy for aeronautics research and development (R&D). The policy was established by Executive Order 13419 in December 2006 and will guide U.S. aeronautics R&D programs through 2020. The subcommittee finished writing the National Aeronautics R&D Plan in December 2007 and is currently writing the Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Infrastructure Plan, both of which were called for by the Executive Order.

 

Be humble. Know there are much smarter people than you in the room.

 

What do you find most interesting about aviation?

Making an impossible act of flying possible.

 

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

Opening up the skies of major cities with quiet, safe, efficient, and environmentally acceptable air vehicles that will alleviate congestion on the ground.

 

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

Enabling commercial supersonic flight that is affordable and environmentally acceptable.

 

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

Balance your seesaw – meaning don’t just give praises and compliments to people. Must be able to give constructive and timely feedback to people for improvement as well.

 

What are your key successes to date?

  • Establishing NASA Aeronautics R&D more relevant and impactful to community needs
  • Building strong partnerships with industry, other government agencies, academia, and international agencies.

 

Describe your ideal day away from work?

Lie down on the warm beach and read a book.

 

Who inspires you the most?

Neil Armstrong – I was inspired to pursue my aviation career by watching the Apollo 11 moon landing. Later I met and worked with Neil Armstrong. He was a true gentleman with wisdom and humility.

 

What is your golden rule?

Be humble. Know there are much smarter people than you in the room.

 

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

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.