The tarmac of Le Bourget is set to welcome the world’s airlines, manufacturers, militaries, politicians, dignitaries, industry executives and the general public, for what is sure to be another staggering biannual spectacle. Last time in Paris, in 2015, Airbus pipped Boeing to the post in the race for orders, and at last year’s Farnborough Air Show we saw US$123.9 billion of deals recorded. OEMs gradually take control of the aftermarket, and major shifts in the global geopolitical order begin to transform the dynamics of the industry. This year’s show also promises to shake up the status quo.
In this two-part series, I will explore the key topics that I believe will take center stage at the 52nd instalment of the show, dominating the stands, the runway and show floor. In this first part, I want to discuss the role that technology will play at the show and what this could have in store for the interiors segment.
Building the future aircraft with additive manufacturing
The soaring demand for aircraft and production volumes (which some interiors suppliers have struggled with) has raised the importance of efficiency gains through automation. OEMs continuously strive for these gains throughout the supply chain, and the benefits are already being played out in each of the three lifecycle areas: design, manufacturing and the aftermarket. For example, Boeing’s bulging order books have resulted in the greater adoption of robots to help assemble the B737 Max short-haul aircraft and its impending big sister, the B777X.
Equally, the interiors segment has also experienced significant disruption from additive manufacturing and the possibilities it presents to streamline production lifecycles in terms of printing, prototyping and testing highly complex components in-house at great speed. Beyond these production costs, there is also a big operational benefit to be had, exemplified by next-generation aircraft like the B787 and the F-35. Additive manufacturing allows them to incorporate new lighter materials in ever-increasing quantities, resulting in huge weight savings. Paris will certainly be abuzz with the latest advancements of this transformative technology from new and innovative market entrants.
Integrating technology platforms across the A&D ecosystem
Beyond the design and manufacturing elements, it is the rise of and the thirst for data that is disrupting the sector and driving much of this OEM migration into the aftermarket. The big challenge A&D faces is to take the leap to the next step and move from these three islands of automation to integrating digital transformation efforts across all them.
For example, harnessing technologies like predictive analytics and the Internet of Things in the aftermarket to detect defaults and inefficiencies in products. These problems can then be automatically fed back through the supply chain to the ongoing design and manufacture of that component. Eventually, OEMs will look to operate their whole supply chain on a single augmented platform to ensure the effective transfer and implementation of this data.
In the second part of my article series, I will look at the turbulence in the aftermarket, the rising challenge from the East, and what this could have in store for the interiors segment at Le Bourget.
Anand Parameswaran heads the aerospace and defense business unit at Cyient. In this role, he is responsible for driving superior outcomes for clients by leveraging Cyient’s capability across product design, manufacturing and aftermarket solutions. In his previous role he was the global head of human resources and business excellence.
Before Cyient, Parameswaran worked in various information technology (IT) industry leadership roles in North America, Europe, and Asia, including positions at Wipro and Cognizant, two leading global IT consulting firms. Parameswaran received a degree from Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, India.