Home' Asian Aviation : AAV February 2018 Contents VIEWPOINT
4 AsianAviation | February 2018
New year, new deals, new tech
IT’S A NEW YEAR and interesting days for the aviation industry with
a new deal saving the A380 and new technology driving changes
throughout the industry in areas ranging from MRO to air traffic
management. Manufacturers too are looking at an interesting year
judging by sales made last year and news that came out in January.
It might have been a somewhat bleak Christmas in France at Air-
bus HQ following the company’s failure to push Emirates to order
more A380s, but the new year definitely came up smelling like early
spring roses as you’ll see in our industry news, after the airline finally
ponied up and ordered up to 36 of the superjumbo jets for US$16
billion. That bit of good news provides at least a 10-year lifeline
for the jet and comes as the company struggles with corruption
investigations and leadership turmoil. On another good note, some
overseas Filipinos got a helping hand from Cebu Pacific during the
Christmas holiday after a travel agency failed to honour hundreds
of tickets that had been booked by migrant workers. The airline
stepped in and offered free tickets to at least 50 migrant workers
so they could spend the holiday at home.
Along with the new year will come new technology that is re-
shaping the industry in good ways and some, well, not so good.
This February issue will be read by many of you attending the latest
Singapore Airshow where much of the new technology will be on
display. Additive manufacturing is making a huge impact on the in-
dustry with various engine parts and other components now being
3D printed, which will affect the business models of parts makers.
Composite materials, which are really hitting their stride these days,
are also changing the MRO sector, forcing maintenance providers to
up their game by investing in skilled workers with the education and
training to handle composites and other new materials hitting the
market. The MRO sector is also being changed by things like virtual
reality, the use of drones for inspections and Big Data analytics and
the internet of things.
Automation too, is having a serious impact. Airlines are using
chatbots to interact with passengers, airline caterers like SATS in
Singapore are using automated guided vehicles to help in food
preparation, and passengers, can if they choose to in many cases,
board an aircraft with little to no interaction with a human being by
buying their tickets online, checking their bags at a SITA kiosk and
printing their boarding pass at home or using their smart phone.
They can also use automated border control lanes at their airport.
For companies employing automation, it’s a good thing because it
allows them to cut jobs. For those gate agents being replaced by a
kiosk, well, it’s not such a good thing. But the march of automation
rolls on and will likely only increase.
On the manufacturing front, it will be interesting to see the orders
that are announced, confirmed or altered at the Singapore Airshow.
As mentioned above, Airbus already is celebrating its A380 order
and it’s unlikely more will come in, although there is a slim chance
some current owners of the plane may take their cue from Emirates
and order more. More likely is we’ll see Asian airlines splashing out
on more A320s and Boeing 737s of various models like the MAX ,
and we’ll probably see the A350 and the 787 Dreamliner also being
ordered if you believe the outlooks published by Boeing and Airbus.
This should also prove to be an interesting year for Chinese makers
of the COMAC C919 and Russia with its MC-21.
One also hopes this year will see major infrastructure improvements
in the region. We wrote about that in the December/January issue, but
it’s worth reiterating that, as pointed out by IATA’s director general,
the 34 million jobs and US$700 billion in economic activity supported
by aviation in Asia — which is expected to double by 2036 — are at
risk if the region’s governments don’t act. Air traffic in China needs
to be upgraded, airports from Manila to Jakarta to Mumbai need
improvements and regulations need to be harmonised to ensure the
heady growth of the past few years continues smoothly and safely.
That safety record is something Asia, and the rest of the world,
can be proud of, given that last year was the safest year on record
for the industry. Commercial airlines recorded no accident deaths
on passenger jets the entire year, but there were 10 fatal airliner
accidents resulting in 44 fatalities on-board and 35 persons on
the ground, including cargo planes and commercial passenger
turboprop aircraft. Technology is responsible for a lot of that safety
record, with improved avionics, better weather data, and improved
airframes. The lack of senior pilots however, remains a problem for
airlines around the world as does the lack of skilled maintenance
technicians. These are areas on which the industry needs to focus
in addition to beefing up the infrastructure in Asia.
Ma Driskil EDITOR
Governments in Asia turn to tech to
ease the stress of overcrowded facilities
CARGO AND LOGISTICS
Online shopping is helping air cargo, but
will the rebound continue?
New materials and business methods are
changing the industry in untold ways
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