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Highlights from the Aviation Forum 2014 in Hamburg – brief and to the point

Aviation Forum HamburgStorm or no storm – this was one of the crucial questions when the Aviation Forum 2014 started – as in 2013, storm “Xaver” was the reason why many participants of the Aviation Forum had to leave earlier.

This time, everybody was lucky: the predicted storm staid an announcement without consequences. So there were no time-wise restrictions to discuss crucial issues derived from the motto of the conference: “Strategic Evolution of the Aerospace Value Chain: Strategies – Concepts – Solutions”.

Among others, the major topics included:

  • network complexity in logistics management
  • challenges in the global supply chain
  • MRO business in transition
  • risks and opportunities of further consolidation in Aerospace
  • how to establish a robust supply chain
  • total cost of ownership approaches
  • innovation management

Aviation-Forum-Hamburg-2014The workshop formats followed a well-established pattern, like in previous years: different work groups assessed a thesis as part of the over-ordinate topic with pros and cons, and a conclusion, which was accompanied by valuable advice of experts and later on presented to the other work groups of the workshop.

From my point of view, the following trend topics can be considered highlights of the event:

Collaboration as means to supply chain risk management

Due to full order books for the next roughly 8 years for the A320 family but also in the face of more than 80% external value generation for e.g. the A350, one major topic was whether chances over-compensate risks in globalized supply chain. It was highlighted that more and more work packages of an aircraft are outsourced to Tier 1 who act as risk-sharing partners.

In speeches of Jean Botti (Airbus CTO), Jürgen Funke (CEO of ThyssenKrupp AeroSpace) and Joseph Gropper (COO of Liebherr Lindenberg), AirSupply was highlighted as state-of-the-art tool of successful supplier collaboration, which can help to better manage risks in the inbound supply chain, by e.g. providing transparency and accuracy about the capabilities of the own suppliers. In the end, this allows to better plan demand, leading to increased customer satisfaction.

Date of A350XWB first delivery

The delivery of the first Airbus A350 to Qatar Airways, announced earlier at the SpeedNews Toulouse to take place before Christmas, was now announced to take place a few weeks later, expected for the end of the year.

The latest news about a potential reduction of capacities of the A380 program were not a topic at the Aviation Forum – the focus was more on how to manage the foreseeable growth with full order books for the next 8 years for the A320 family (including the NEO).

Incremental innovation: trends in aircraft material and technology

When attending the factory tour at Airbus Finkenwerder, which was also part of the Aviation Forum, it became obvious that composites and also carbon fiber are the materials which will allow weight reduction and thus incremental innovation (enhancements based on existing solutions). Together with weight reduction, aerodynamic improvements like sharklets and more efficient engines (e.g. via the geared Turbo Fan from Pratt&Whitney) pave the path for further fuel efficiencies, leading to increased aircraft range and increased payload.

Airbus CTO Jean Botti gave in his speech an amazing outlook which technologies will play a major role in the aircraft of the future (including electric engines), and pointing out the role of BoostAeroSpace, for technologies value creation, along with SupplyOn AirSupply as a very good example for successful supplier collaboration.

The event was concluded by patron Dr. Klaus Richter, Airbus Chief Procurement Officer, giving clear guidance about what Airbus expects from their suppliers.

To wrap up, the Aviation Forum 2014 has continued a meanwhile strong tradition as leading Aerospace event in Germany, leveraging synergies between the participating companies and giving orientation how to manage the future. The date for the next Aviation Forum Hamburg has already been communicated: it will take place on the 8th and 9th of December 2015. The conference topic will be “Supply Chain Integration Challenges in Commercial Aerospace”.

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