5–9 June 2017
Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, Denver, Colorado

Aerospace Is Greatly Changing, But Can the Industry Keep Up?

Posted: 8 June 2017, 2:20 p.m. EDT


Speaker:
Moderator Scott Fancher, senior vice president of program management and integration and development programs, Boeing; Naveed Hussain, vice president of aeromechanics technology, Boeing; Aaron Robinson, senior manager of environmental strategy and sustainability, United Airlines; Donna Senft, chief scientist, Air Mobility Command, U.S. Air Force

by  Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications

The aerospace industry needs to keep up with the disruption it faces on numerous fronts, from affordable means of transport to the new fuels and nonpolluting technologies and potential for supersonic capabilities, a panel of experts said June 8 during “Innovation and Disruption Opportunities for Civil and Military Transport Acquisitions and Operations” at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver.
                                                                                                                                          
“How do we take advantage of new innovations?” asked Scott Fancher, senior vice president of program management and integration and development programs at Boeing. “How do we identify the risks that come with those opportunities and manage them in a way that allows us to continue to go forward to provide products that ensure the safety of the traveling public and the defense of our nations around the world?”

Fancher asked each of the panelists to briefly summarize where they saw disruption occurring in their particular sectors. Donna Senft, chief scientist with the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, said for her, the intersection of artificial intelligence and autonomy is “exciting,” as is the question of how to incorporate those things into an airframe.

Aaron Robinson, senior manager of environmental strategy and sustainability at United Airlines, said he is excited by the “possibility of getting back to the supersonic age.” He said it “creates new market opportunities, allowing us to fly faster and farther than is now possible.”

Naveed Hussain, vice president of aeromechanics technology at Boeing, said autonomous systems and all the possibilities they hold excite him.

Paul-Eremenko-AVIATION2017

Participants in the panel discussion, “Innovation and Disruption Opportunities for Civil and Military Transport Acquisitions and Operations,” June 8 at the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver.

But the panelists noted that there are challenges that come with these new technologies.

“How do we make systems integration easier, quicker and cheaper?” Senft asked.

Robinson asked: “How do we get the customer to accept it?”

And Hussain wondered about the speed at which technology develops, especially unmanned aircraft, which he said “grow at the speed of cellphone technology and are the fruit flies of the aerospace life cycle.”

Looking forward, the panelists saw more disruption on the horizon, from figuring out how to expand the use of additive manufacturing technology to new ways of offering intercity aerial ridesharing to creating a system that can learn in real time.

“When we … widen the design space beyond the tube and wing, we can win. There’s winning configurations out there,” Hussain said. “We can think of the constraints, but it doesn’t necessarily put an upward limit on performance. We can find a solution.”

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