Maturing AAM technology with CEO & Head of UAM at Airbus

Maturing AAM technology with CEO & Head of UAM at Airbus

Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) have long been sparking conversation around what the future of transport will look like. With recent major developments in the AAM sector, this is evolving from concept to imminent reality. Balkiz Sarihan, CEO & Head of UAM at Airbus shared her insights on this journey and what it could mean for our cities.

Firstly discussing the promise of AAM, Sarihan described what adding a new mobility layer to a city would look like and the potential it offers for revolutionising how we live our lives and design our cities.

The conversation also touched on the challenges that come with integrating this technology into the broader ecosystem, where Sarihan cautioned that patience and safety are paramount and fostering collaboration across stakeholders is essential.

Looking ahead, Sarihan unpacked the steps need to mature AAM aircraft, mentioning investment, safety standards, and user interface.

Questions asked:

  • Can you briefly summarise the transformative potential of Advanced Air Mobility?
  • What are the major challenges you foresee when it comes to the broader ecosystem of Urban Air Mobility? How are you pre-empting these?
  • What are your priorities for the next five years?

Watch the full interview below.



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Ensuring safety while integrating AI with Anna von Groote, Director General, EUROCAE

Ensuring safety while integrating AI with Anna von Groote, Director General, EUROCAE

Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionising every industry and aviation is no exception. Its transformative power already spans a multitude of applications and more doors are opening as the technology develops. However, its rapid integration into this safety critical sector requires a measured approach, facilitated by expert understanding of technology and the industry.

EUROCAE, the European Organisation for Civil Aviation Equipment, plays a pivotal role in advancing the aviation industry through its range of standards. The non-profit organisation brings together manufacturers, operators, regulators, and other aviation stakeholders to develop and promote standards for aviation equipment and related systems. Taking a proactive approach to standardisation, EUROCAE is instrumental in ensuring the aviation industry can harness the benefits of AI without compromising safety and trustworthiness.

Watch below for five-minute insights from Anna von Groote, Director General, EUROCAE on the importance of standardisation as the industry navigates the role of AI.

Questions asked include:

  •  Can you articulate the impact AI has had on the industry? And how have you noticed this change in recent years?
  • How do you tackle the issue of AI trustworthiness when thinking about safety within the industry?
  • With AI evolving at such a rapid pace, how do you approach its standardisation and do you anticipate having to change this approach if its applications within the industry continue to proliferate?

See EUROCAE’s Video series on AI in aviation here. 



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Willie Walsh: “They’re part of the problem, they’ve got to be part of the solution.”

Willie Walsh: “They’re part of the problem, they’ve got to be part of the solution.”

At Aerospace Tech Week, Willie Walsh, Director General, The International Air Transport Association (IATA) joined for a five minute discussion on the industry landscape. During the interview, he outlined a path for tackling the sustainability challenge and looked at the failures of the Single European Sky (SES) deal.

Underscoring the critical role of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in navigating the decarbonisation of the industry, Walsh briefly mapped out the role governments must play in stimulating its scale up. Highlighting the concerning disparity between the US and European SAF production, Walsh cautioned that we are not seeing the right balance between incentives and mandates being adopted internationally, and governments are failing to recognise the opportunity in front of them.

Walsh urged that effectively addressing the sustainability challenge will take the support from every member of the ecosystem including governments, regulators, OEMs etc. Singling out fuel suppliers, Walsh said:

“Traditional fuel suppliers who have made hundreds of billions in profit off the industry over the years need to significantly accelerate their investment in the production of SAF […] They’re part of the problem, they’ve got to be part of the solution.”

Unpacking the flaws of the SES deal which Walsh previously condemned as a “failure,” he highlighted its initial promises: a tenfold improvement in safety, tripling Europe’s airspace capacity, substantial cost reduction, and a 10 per cent decrease in CO2 emissions. Criticising the deal for falling short on all four fronts, Walsh described the deal as “very disappointing given the critical importance of all of those issues.”

Questions asked:

  • You described the EU’s Single European Sky deal as a failure. Which areas in particular did the agreement fall short and to what extent will this impact the industry’s ability to modernise European air traffic management?
  • What do you see as the major challenges when it comes to meeting the net zero by 2050 goal and how many of these are going to require government involvement to overcome them?
  • How do you propose we catalyse the mindset shift towards a more inclusive ecosystem involving governments, suppliers, airlines etc.?

Watch the full interview below.



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Honeywell accelerates “third set of eyes” software to enhance runway safety

Honeywell accelerates “third set of eyes” software to enhance runway safety

2023 was the highest year in a decade for serious runway incursion events per one million airport operations. With runway incursions on the rise, Honeywell has accelerated development of its Surface Alert software. The alert system leverages GPS data, automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) equipment, and advanced analytics to detect the accurate location of potential hazards.

Thea Feyereisen, Senior Technical Fellow, Honeywell Aerospace Technologies, described pilots as “the last line of defence” against runway incursions and Surface Alert, or SURF-A can act as their “third set of eyes” in the cockpit of aircraft.

Helping to improve situational awareness and reduce risks of runway incursions, SURF-A gives pilots real-time aural and visual alerts if they’re on a trajectory to collide within 30 seconds, accessing data directly from the ADS-B Out equipment on aircraft and ground vehicles.

Feyereisen also said:

“In general, airlines are hesitant to buy a safety system unless it’s mandated. So we’re looking into ways to incentivise airlines to equip smart runway technology.”

With plans to have SURF-A certified within 18-24 months and airlines showing interest in the technology, Honeywell have extended this beyond a research project, looking to offer it for retrofit and as well forward fit aircraft.


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ECLIF3 study highlights non-CO2 reduction benefits of SAF in commercial aircraft

ECLIF3 study highlights non-CO2 reduction benefits of SAF in commercial aircraft

Yesterday, results from the world’s first in-flight study looking at the impact of using 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on both engines of a commercial aircraft were shared. Here’s what was found.

“Using SAF in flight could significantly reduce the climate impact of aviation in the short term by reducing non-CO2 effects such as contrails, in addition to reducing CO2 emissions over the lifecycle of SAF.”

The study looked at emissions produced by both engines of an Airbus A350 powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and had a DLR chase plane follow the aircraft to collect data on soot particles and contrail ice crystals. The soot emitted by aircraft engines helps to form contrails that evolve into cirrus clouds which often have an overall warming effect. Previous research has already shown that non-CO2 effects, like contrails, could account for a large proportion of the industry’s environmental impact.

The ground breaking ECLIF3 study, conducted by Airbus, Rolls-Royce, the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), and SAF producer Neste has reported its findings in the Copernicus journal Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics (ACP) as part of a peer-reviewed scientific process. The test provides the “first in-situ evidence of the climate impact mitigation potential of using pure, 100 per cent SAF on a commercial aircraft.”

Results showed 100 per cent SAF had a 56 per cent reduction in contrail ice crystals compared to Jet A-1 fuel in an Airbus A350. The global climate model simulations by DLR looking at radiative forcing also estimated a 26 per cent reduction of the impact of the contrails compared to the Jet A-1 reference fuel.

Mark Bentall, head of Research & Technology Programme, Airbus, said:

“We already knew that sustainable aviation fuels could reduce the carbon footprint of aviation. Thanks to ECLIF studies, we now know that SAF can also reduce soot emissions and ice particulate formation that we see as contrails. This is a very encouraging result, based on science, which shows just how crucial sustainable aviation fuels are for decarbonising air transport”.

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