ABU DHABI, 30th March, 2017 (WAM) - The Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit, GMIS 2017, aerospace leaders have highlighted the importance of the aerospace industry as a major contributor to global Gross Domestic Product, adding that the international air transport alone contributes US$2.7 trillion. They also discussed the future of the aerospace industry that supports 10 million people globally through direct employment, with an additional 63.5 million supported indirectly.
In a panel at the GMIS 2017, Jan Pie, Secretary-General, Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe, ASD, and Chairman Elect, International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations, ICCAIA, said, "While the outlook is rosy, there are still a number of challenges in the aerospace industry that need to be addressed, such as market demand growing at 45 percent on an annual basis. There are around 17,000 aircraft currently flying with a capacity of at least 100 passengers or capable of carrying 10 tonnes of goods or more. In 20 years time, there will need to be around 30,000 aircraft available and a number of the existing aircraft will no longer be in operation in 20 years, even with upgrades.
Michel Peters, CEO of Netherlands Aerospace Centre, NLR, speaking about the capacity requirements on original equipment manufacturers, OEMs, said, "To meet the demand of 30,000 aircraft in the next 20 years, the big OEMs, such as Boeing and Airbus, have to turn out approximately 60 aircraft a month. That’s nothing special for an automotive manufacturer, but 60 aircraft a month is really something. That means that a lot of technology will be used, adapted from car manufacturers. Phasing manufacturing automation together with the design of the aircraft itself can cut some corners, while keeping up with the safety and quality standards."
Other key issues the industry faces include safety, even though air travel today is safer than ever; connectivity, in terms of connecting all aspects of air travel, including aircraft, passengers, ground services and more; the introduction of pilotless drones to the market, and the total integration of drones into the environment without compromising on safety. Fuel, too, is a matter that the industry is looking at, given fluctuating prices of oil and further research into green alternatives.
There are people looking at green fuel substitutes, according to Tetsuro Hisano, Vice President and General Manager of Commercial Airplane Programmes Management Office, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. "We have lots of very innovative companies that are looking at, for example, using sunshine to create fuel from forms of bacteria, and harnessing the energy produced to create oil. It is not yet commercially feasible. When oil prices are at U$100 per barrel, then these ideas become more feasible, but in these days, when fuel goes down below $50 per barrel, it is less feasible, so oil price drives innovation in this field."
Speaking on the influence of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies on aerospace, and referencing the push of the USA Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. John Richardson, to transform Navy fleets to be completely driven by biofuels, Robert S. Harward, Vice Admiral USN (Ret) SEAL and Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin International in the UAE, said, "That’s what forced the industry to respond. I think those sorts of requirements then help drive the change quicker than industry would do it on its own."
The inaugural Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit is being held at the Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi University until 30th of March and is bringing together decision-making leaders from governments, businesses and civil society organisations to shape a vision for the sector’s future.
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