Up In The Air! Vision & Reality

Up in the air
DLD conference

On stage with two pioneers talking about the future of aviation.

Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse

• 1st solar flight around the world - always breaking records

• now trying to find thousands of profitable ways to deal with climate change

• vision of aviation: to be clean, the way of flying with no fuel, being in the air as much as you like

• 15 years ago - world of aviation was looking at him like him being crazy

• no pilot in the aircraft? - pioneers: of course this will happen, but regulators - huge conflict, today we don’t know who will win, popular need or courage of the politicians will drive it

• but it will not happen in Europe or USA first, it will happen in Asia, in China

• always need high endorsement (head of state), network (relations with many as you can): regulators will eat from your hand

• electric aviation? - we need to think out of the box, not replacing today’s airplane, new structure, new look, think like pioneers (like Elon Musk, no car manufacturer, internet guy, build screen and then car around) and we will be there much faster as expected

• electric cheaper as oil/gasoline and we need to get cleaner - "1 kg gas = 36 kg lithium battery power. But electric need no pipes or engines.

• we need to bring together governments, he want to help to fulfill the climate goals

• aviation is only a small problem (5%), 95% pollution is coming from the ground

DLD17 Conference Day 2

Tom Enders, Airbus

• Airbus is highly innovative

  • how close are we to Bertrand's vision? - we are close, we are making good progress here

• talking about new forms of mobility

• it has to be clean

• last year, new business unit: UAM - urban air mobility

• Airbus: world largest helicopter manufacturer - we are not just building concepts, we are building demonstrators

• unpiloted demonstrators hopefully by the end of the year

• helicopters are too loud, etc. to fly in urban areas in high numbers, has to be changed

• painful things to say for passionate pilots like Bertrand and himself: if we can demonstrate it’s safer, we don’t need pilots anymore

• urban air mobility - not only traditional regulators, we need to talk to transportation units/departments in communities/cities

• aviation will benefit from technology, e.g. AI - create the 3rd revolution in aviation and space

• autonomous flight is not far away - 90% of errors are human errors, unmanned flights are safer

• Airbus is also big in drones: it’s easier than autonomous driving/flying - car companies (e.g. whitepaper by UBER) are thinking about it

• infinitive number of corridors to use, no structure needs to maintain, only a small amount of costs

DLD17 Conference Day 2