Speed is paramount: Lessons from the EU Aeronautics Conference 4.0, 5 December 2018

Europe is a leader in the aeronautics industry. This is essential for the security, connectivity, wealth, and autonomy of the continent. With digitalisation, stronger international competition, and a changing workforce, speed becomes even more important. One thing became clear during the discussions at the EU Aeronautics Conference: Europe needs to become faster in both regulation and innovation to remain at the forefront of technology.

How to remain a leader in aeronautics

Speakers at the EU Aeronautics Conference 4.0: EU Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič; President of the European Parliament's Sky and Space Intergroup Monika Hohlmeier; EU Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska; Dassault CEO Eric Trappier; Airbus CEO Tom Enders (by ASD Europe)

The EU Aeronautics Conference 4.0 in the European Parliament highlighted that Europe is a leader in the aeronautics industry, and that acceleration, internationalisation and digitalisation are key challenges. The European Commission, represented by four Commissioners, and the Parliament reaffirmed their support for the sector. The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani stated: “We need to defend our industry.” The Sky and Space Intergroup of the Parliament launched its report, emphasising the need to take more effective measures to strengthen the industry to remain world market leader. 

Winds of change blowing through the industry

Member of European Parliament Monika Hohlmeier and Airbus CEO Tom Enders (by ASD Europe)

Airbus CEO Tom Enders reflected on his more than 25 years in the industry, raising some central questions about the sector’s future: How will the industry adapt to exponential technological change? How can we build truly global footprints? Part of the answer lies in a significant increase in funding for research and technology in the EU, which would also help to further reduce emissions and noise. Furthermore, industry needs to accelerate the process of digitalisation to succeed in the global market.

Time to accelerate

Several speakers emphasised another key challenge for the aeronautics industry: speed. For instance, new safety regulations still take 3 to 5 years to come into effect while the pace of technological change has accelerated, not least due to the increased role of software in aerospace.

Europe is a leader in aeronautics today, and has a great opportunity to shape the future. However, in a rapidly changing world, more needs to be done by all stakeholders to retain this position.

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