9 March 2017 · 2 min read

Is it a car or is it a plane?

Airbus looks to appoint car expert to its board

It seems my prophecy that 2017 could be the year of the flying car may not have been as implausible as it initially seemed. Last week Airbus proposed Lord Drayson, a self-confessed “car-nut” as an independent non-executive director.

Lord Drayson was formerly the Minister of Science in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and he made his fortune in biotech, by developing the Powderjet device, a needle free injection system. He also has a PhD in robotics. Therefore his proposal is concordant with Airbus’ stated desire to use exploit advances in digital technology in order to improve efficiency.

However, it is unlikely to be coincidental that a man with such a passion for high end cars has been admitted to Airbus’ board, a few months after the company established a division called ‘Urban Air Mobility’ through which it is testing prototype self –flying cars. Lord Drayson owns Drayson Racing Technology, his own motor racing team that has competed at Le Mans. Its technology development sister company, Drayson Technologies, has been developing hardware for the electric racing series, FIA Formula E Championship.

Airbus is in the middle of his biggest ever production ramp up today with the A350 and the A320Neo now fully in service. Its focus is undoubtedly on successfully delivering its record order book of aircraft. However, the emergence of Lord Drayson as a non-executive director exemplifies the fact that Airbus is no longer the staid European aircraft manufacturer it was once perceived to be.  It is an innovative technology company that has one eye on the future in order to stay ahead of the market place.

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