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21 April 2017 · 2 min read

The MOD is open for business again

‘Accelerator’ project intended to encourage innovation but may also encourage acquisitions

Historically, defence technologies used to lead development of civilian technologies. However, military research and development (R&D) budgets have been constrained over the past five years so we have seen civilian technologies leading the way, particularly in the communications sphere. I was therefore encouraged to read about the UK MOD’s new ‘Accelerator’ programme, which funds novel, high-risk and high-potential benefit research to develop new capabilities for UK defence and security.

13 April 2017 · 3 min read

Airbus CEO says “he is not close to retirement”

Succession planning is proof that Airbus is a changed company

In a Reuters interview after the Airbus AGM yesterday CEO Tom Enders said he has no intention of retiring when his current term ends in 2019 and that “it is up to the board and shareholders to decide” if they want him to stay. Mr Enders’ comments yesterday are the first insight to what is likely to be fascinating succession planning at Airbus. It is interesting for two reasons; firstly the company’s history of the management team being chosen by the French and German governments and secondly what the future holds for Fabrice Bregier who currently runs Airbus Commercial Aircraft and has recently been appointed Chief Operating Officer of the newly integrated Airbus SE.

5 April 2017 · 3 min read

The evolution of in-flight entertainment

Will the new restrictions on electronic devices change IFE trends?

Recently I have been reading with interest about how avionic manufacturers are rethinking in-flight entertainment (IFE) given that almost every passenger now has their own electronic device, pre-loaded with their choice of films, television programmes and music. In a culture of ‘on demand’ entertainment, a small screen with poor sound quality, showing a fuzzy version of a relatively recent film understandably lacks the allure it used to hold. There is one school of thought that personal devices could soon remove the need for dedicated IFE systems altogether and I can see the logic in that. Well at least I could until the ban on electronic devices on certain routes from the Middle East was introduced. This unexpected change to the status quo has caused consternation amongst travellers with children and business passengers alike, and will no doubt have the avionics industry reassessing about what future IFE systems should look like.

29 March 2017 · 3 min read

China to build UAVs in Saudi Arabia

UK’s biggest defence export market looks east

Saudi Arabia has signed a strategic partnership with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) in order to establish the manufacturing of Chinese Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in Saudi Arabia. This announcement is significant for two reasons; first it shows that Chinese defence companies are now competing with their western peers, and second it will challenge the UK Government to become comfortable with Chinese made military hardware operating alongside UK built military aircraft.

23 March 2017 · 4 min read

Comac C919 aircraft to fly next month, three years late

Challenges remain though to establish a Chinese aerospace manufacturing industry

The first Chinese narrowbody aircraft, the Comac C919 looks set to make its first flight next month. This is a significant milestone which will attract the attention of the aerospace industry across the globe and the event will no doubt be lauded by the Chinese government. However, this maiden flight will be nearly three years late. When the programme was launched in 2008 the target for first flight was June 2014, with the first delivery due in 2016.

13 March 2017 · 4 min read

US budget battles

End of 2017 Continuing Resolution looks likely as focus turns to Trump’s first budget

We are firmly in budget season. On this side of the pond Mr Hammond had his moment in the spotlight, but I was watching the news from the US because a few hours later the US House of Representatives approved the $584bn 2017 Defense Spending bill. This sets in motion the process to end the current Continuing Resolution (CR) that is only established until 28 April. The previous day, President Trump outlined his intent to spend $54bn (+3%) more than the Obama administration had planned to on defence in 2018. So what do we know so far and what can we expect?