Civil aviation is hot, and it is only getting hotter. As the middle class continues to grow in emerging markets, including nations such as China and India, more people and more goods than ever before are flying.
Growth in passenger and cargo transport is driving demand for new aircraft, and airframe manufacturers such as Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Dassault, Embraer, and others are actively filling that need. At the same time, however, competition among these firms is high as each one endeavors to sell more and more of its own innovative aircraft models. High competition most often lends to a buyer’s market in which prices—as well as company profits—are low.
All these latest trends make for an interesting, if not perfect, storm. More passenger and cargo aircraft are taking to the skies travelling, and they are doing so on aircraft of varying ages and with different levels of technology (older analog instruments versus modern digital avionics). Add unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)—also referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), or drones—to the mix and attentions to turn to the ever-more-crowded public airspace.
Government entities overseeing transportation and safety the world over are responding to these developments by modernizing and updating transportation infrastructures, regulations and recommendations, and more. In turn, today’s airframe manufacturers need to be concerned not only with outpacing competitors and keeping an eye on the bottom line, but also staying updated on and adhering to new and revamped certification requirements.
What’s a manufacturer to do? This military and aerospace (mil/aero) geek describes what one proactive producer did next.