Held on December 5, 2023, the Aviation Forum 2023 showcased the industry’s resilience and determination, commencing sharply at 9:00 am. Despite adverse weather conditions that caused numerous flight cancellations, over 1,300 attendees, 130 exhibitors, and 70 speakers converged for the two-day event. Beyond the impressive numbers, the event quality was also reflected by the insightful contributions and discussions which encapsulated the current state, challenges, and opportunities of the aerospace industry.
In essence, all the discussions revolved around a common goal: shaping the future of aerospace.
Ramping up: a multifaceted challenge
The aerospace industry is gearing up for a substantial increase in production, targeting approximately 100 aircraft per month. Although international traffic is approaching pre-COVID levels, Airbus and its suppliers face a multifaceted challenge amid a poly-crisis, encompassing issues like interest rates, climate challenges, and material shortages.
Managing the ramp-up is not a singular challenge but a poly challenge, given the myriad of interconnected issues.
Collaboration emerged as a pivotal theme, recognizing that 80 % of the industry’s added value stems from procurement activities. Cooperation between different tiers and OEMs is deemed crucial for future success.
Collaboration: unlocking supply chain efficiencies
Jürgen Westermeier, CPO of Airbus, emphasized that collaboration is key to enhancing supply chain efficiencies. Airbus introduced four major initiatives:
- ZeroM: aimed at reducing the impact of supply chain disruptions
- AXEXX: focused on increasing competitiveness and reducing costs
- AeroExcellence: a cross-industry initiative to mature supplier industries
- NextEra: aiming to secure industrial continuity through collaboration and data leverage
Sustainability: the future license to operate
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is crucial for its sustainability efforts, but the industry is also exploring alternative energy sources, such as liquid hydrogen (LH2) fuel cells and GKNA LH2 concepts.
Holistic sustainability requires the involvement of all stakeholders: suppliers, OEMs, operators, regulators, and political and business leaders.
In addition to alternative energy, industry efforts include recycling materials, exploring eco-friendly alternatives, reducing buffer stocks, and leveraging data and technology for a greener future.
Challenges and opportunities ahead
One of the major topics for the future is the concept of a “digital material passport”. Efficient systems and digitization will be essential for tracking materials throughout the aircraft lifecycle.
Another future topic are environmentally friendly materials such as green aluminum or green steel. Yet industry acceptance is still at an early stage for these potential alternatives.
Reducing unnecessary buffer stocks is crucial not only for cost but also for sustainability.
Collaborative, transparent, and open use of data and technology can drive a greener future, too. But the industry grapples with the challenge of building trust and taking decisive action.
In conclusion, the Aviation Forum 2023 illuminated the path forward for the aerospace industry, emphasizing collaboration, sustainability, and technological innovation as key drivers for future success.