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3 questions for ...

Andreas Hammer

Andreas Hammer has been the head of the Spacecraft Equipment division at Airbus Defence and Space since 1 January 2019, in addition to his role as German Space Coordinator held since September 2018.

Prior to his current position, he was CEO of Tesat Spacecom GmbH & Co. KG from 2015 to 2018, a subsidiary company of Airbus, and Corporate Secretary of Airbus Defence and Space for two years beforehand.

He started his career at Airbus (previously EADS Defence & Security) in 2005 where he held numerous executive positions until the 2014 name change and beyond, including Head of the Key Account NATO/EU in Brussels, Sales Director Germany and Chief of Staff/Head of Central Departments in Munich.

Andreas Hammer holds a degree in aerospace engineering from the University of the German Armed Forces in Munich. He has been a member on the board of trustees of the Dornier Foundation for Aerospace since 2014, a member on the steering committee of the German Association for Defence Technology (DWT) since 2013, and on the steering committee of the German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI) since 2018.


Grazia Vittadini

Grazia Vittadini has been appointed Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Airbus and a member of the Airbus Executive Committee, effective 1 May 2018.

Furthermore, she serves as Director of the Airbus Foundation Board and as a member of the Inclusion and Diversity Steering Committee.

Previously, Vittadini was Executive Vice President Head of Engineering since January 2017 and a member of the Executive Committee of Airbus Defence and Space. Prior to this position, she had been Senior Vice President Head of Corporate Audit & Forensic, responsible for Airbus Group audit activities worldwide.

Since January 2013 and for one year and a half, Grazia was Vice President Head of Airframe Design and Technical Authority for all Airbus aircraft in Hamburg.

Grazia Vittadini graduated in Aeronautical Engineering and she specialized in Aerodynamics from the Politecnico di Milano.


Peter Weckesser

Peter Weckesser has been Digital Transformation Officer at Airbus Defence and Space since March 2017. Previously, he worked at Siemens, where he led the business and activities of the company in the Digital Enterprise and Internet of Things specialist departments as COO of the Product Lifecycle Management department.

Prior to this, he held various management positions at Siemens, including CEO of Industry Services, CEO of the Value Services Business Unit, and Vice President of the Human Machine Interface department.

Peter Weckesser has degrees in Physics and Information Technology from the University of Karlsrühe (Germany), and as part of his IT course, he spent a year at the Armstrong State University in Savannah (Georgia, USA).

He is married and has two children.

Last spring, with “Quantum”, Airbus began a company-wide digital transformation initiative. What are the objectives and what has been done so far?

With Quantum, we want to accelerate digital change within the company. First of all, we are asking ourselves how we can make what we’re already doing today even better. How can we develop our aircraft and satellites in half the time and at half the cost?

In addition, we are adopting a disruptive approach. To this end we are considering new business models which could help us to expand our existing portfolio. Airbus will still sell aircraft, satellites and defence products in the future, but we also know that we need to expand our key business to incorporate additional innovative digital products. In this respect, we are thinking about what such products might look like, what business models are available, and how we can offer these to our customers.

We are therefore working on two steps in parallel:  firstly, improving what we already do well as a company. And secondly, seeking new innovative ideas and offerings for our product portfolio.

Big Data is considered to be the driver of new business models. What role does data analysis play in the aerospace sector?

The aerospace industry functions according to the following principle: we have a resource – the aircraft – which is very expensive, and which remains in service for 30 years or more. We must therefore consider how we can draw data from this resource and transform it into valuable information. We can then give this processed data back to our customers in the form of services – “data as a service”. For example, based on the acquired information, we could offer our customers guaranteed fuel efficiency and improvement measures derived from this. For Airbus this means that alongside our core business, we are also substantially developing our service business – in the future, however, these services will be performance-based rather than time/material-based.

Weighing up risks and opportunities plays an important role in planning for a company. How does a company such as Airbus weigh up the risk of traditional engineering business with the risk of disruptive transformation business?

Every successful company becomes risk-adverse at some point, because it is trying to protect its own product and further develop it alone. Everyone is familiar with Kodak and Nokia. We therefore have to make it our task to find the right balance: further develop our own product portfolio, but at the same time have the courage to develop our own disruptive approaches. Of course, that's quite a challenge, because it can mean having to completely re-think – and accordingly modify – our own products and business models. To achieve that, it's important to create space for new ideas. Here, the aim of employees must be to turn their own activity on its head, and consciously take risks that the rest of the company cannot.

Sepp Huber

Sepp Huber is research programme manager at Airbus Helicopters Germany for the European Clean Sky 2 research programme (RACER). Before this, he was co-coordinator of the Clean Sky “Green Rotorcraft” research programme. All of the research results of Airbus Helicopters Germany can be seen in the Bluecopter demonstrator developed by Airbus Helicopters Germany.

Sepp Huber is also a representative in the Advisory Council for Aviation Research and Innovation in Europe (ACARE), was NH90 development programme manager, and alongside his position as AIT Engineer for manned and unmanned space assemblies, he is also Planning and Controlling Engineer in the tri-national EMDG programme organisation for TRIGAT LR (TIGER weapons system).

What is the No. 1 success factor when it comes to developing pioneering environmental technologies such as those in the Bluecopter?

The Bluecopter technology demonstrator allowed us to carry out work in areas such as noise reduction and minimisation of fuel consumption quickly and in a focussed manner. Furthermore, the fact that the technologies we are working on are also tested in flight tests is a huge motivation for the development team.

But ultimately, the decisive factor was that the specialist departments involved worked beyond the usual department boundaries, in a self-defined, hierarchy-free environment, to define their own objectives and successfully implement them. The breakthrough was achieved by simultaneously considering all of the development objectives in a parallel process, with an interdisciplinary tool chain, in contrast to the previously-used sequential process. 

How are concrete technologies integrated in new Airbus products?

During our work on the Bluecopter, through the inter-departmental approach, our specialist departments were able to significantly improve their know-how and collaboration as regards noise reduction. This knowledge is now available for us to integrate in planned product improvements or in new helicopter programmes.

How can the values be increased in the future?

Above all, further improvement of the noise reduction results achieved thus far requires further, continuous optimisation of the simulation possibilities and the software used, and also the possibility of testing newly developed technologies in flight.

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