Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group

Monthly Innovation Roundup – November   

Each month we will be covering a range of emerging innovations across the aviation industry, from airport design to advances in air traffic control technology, that paint a picture of how the sector is changing by building itself more agile and responsive capabilities. This month, we focus on innovations catering to the long-term improvement of safety, supply chain resilience and overall sustainability of the industry.

British Aviation Group unveils hybrid propulsion jet

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to encourage airlines to shed their older, less efficient fleet assets, the next generation of planes will be designed from the ground up to save on fuel costs and emission generation rates. The latest announcement involved plans for a 70-seat hybrid-electric jet with an operational range of 1,500km and an estimated launch date of no later than the end of 2028. 

This is a significant statement for British Aviation Group to make, as it lets us look towards priorities in jet design for models aimed to be airborne within this decade. The hybrid jet market could quickly amount to a value of $4.4 trillion and they want to forge the way ahead by being ambitious in their design and development strategy. This opening gambit, named “Hera”, is likely to be one of many hybrid competitors to be launched before 2030. With sustainability sitting at the top of the aviation industry’s long-term priority list, expect to see a lot of similar announcements popping up in 2020 and the early part of the decade.

Honeywell addresses supply chain issues through 3D printing

Recent months have shown how globally integrated supply chains are more vulnerable than ever to massive and rapid shocks arising from events with international reach. Accordingly, the call for improving the resilience of said supply chains through technological advancements is growing stronger. Honeywell is looking towards 3D printing to address the problem of supplying complex engine parts reliably and in a more cost-effective manner. In late August the company received FAA approval to 3D print a flight-critical engine part: the #4/5 bearing housing, which is a structural component for the ATF3-6 turbofan engine. Creating this part using traditional manufacturing methods is a complex process involving specialty tools and moulds, adding to the time and cost factor significantly. While the move towards 3D printing this particular part doesn’t represent a change of industry-impactive proportions, it is important in setting a wider trend of targeting appropriate parts, simplifying their manufacture and boosting their sustainability without sacrificing on safety or quality. 

Expect to see more movement on the targeted 3D-printing manufacture of speciality parts through the rest of the year and into 2021, as the supply chain issues caused by the global pandemic are far from over, and manufacturers will be looking for ways to cut out needless vulnerabilities wherever possible.

Indra boosts safety in South Korean and Spanish airports and airbases

The downturn in global air travel demand in 2020 has proved useful in the ‘silver lining’ sense of giving airports and airbases around the world the chance to pause, assess and improve the safety of their infrastructural assets and operational processes. In South Korea and Spain – both of which are countries that have experienced high levels of COVID-19 infection and subsequently mounted successful containment responses – have turned to Indra to improve safety across multiple facilities. In Spain, Indra has deployed advanced passenger temperature control systems across 13 major airports. The systems use both fixed and mobile thermographic cameras, allowing airport operators to carry out random checks to be performed anywhere in the terminals, as well as screening heavier concentrations of passengers in the arrival and departure halls. The system’s smart capture technology means that checks can be made without the subject having to stop walking or stand on a particular spot. This is a vital innovation, as it prevents bottlenecks occurring, keeping passengers safer as they can distance themselves from each other more easily while at the same time avoiding any inconvenient delays. 

In South Korea, Indra will reinforcing safety and control of air operations across multiple Air Force bases through the supply and implementation of new air traffic surveillance and management systems. Key elements of the proposed ATM systems include S-band primary radars, which will be essential for allowing pilots to better position their aircraft during landing and take-off manoeuvres. 

Innovation is forging a better path towards sustainable operations

In each of our innovation examples this month, we can see a growing trend of airlines, manufacturers, airport operators and even governments looking further ahead than the current coronavirus crisis and imagining what the post-Covid aviation reality will look like. Shedding inefficiency, both in active flights and in global supply chains, will be crucial for creating a leaner, more viable industry, as will the continuous improvement of airport safety through technological means. Not being caught out again by a similar viral episode seems to be uppermost in the minds of industry operators as they look to the future.

This article was created in association with Airport Show taking place in Dubai on 24-26 May 2021. 

Register now  for FREE entry to Airport Show, Airport Security and ATC Forum exhibition