The year 2021 was a time of innovation, overcoming challenges, and adapting to a new normal on the road to recovery for the aviation industry. Looking back on how the industry evolved and changed, there was a tremendous amount of effort from all sides of the aviation community to not just survive but to adapt, innovate, and thrive.
Connected Aviation Today has resurfaced several of our top-performing pieces of content from the site, as a part of our annual retrospective. Each article features insight from leaders, experts, and prominent voices in aviation discussing how their teams and organizations are each working to help build a better future. From connected aviation services to ongoing innovations to boost passenger confidence, to reimagining the future sustainable aircraft, these perspectives offer a snapshot of how the industry evolved over the last year, and how it will reflect on 2022.
Joel Otto: 2021 Brings a Year of Hope for the Commercial Aviation Industry
Where better to start a 2021 refection than one of the first pieces published in the year. Otto, Vice President of Business Development and Strategy at Collins Aerospace, joined Connected Aviation Today to predict where he saw the industry going in 2021. Otto was filled with hope in his prediction, despite the tumultuous year that the industry just faced.
“COVID created a complete disruption and reset of aviation, but also all of our lives,” Otto told us. Despite that disruptive influence, Otto predicted that 2021 would be a year of hope and that the industry would “reexamine and refocus on what matters most.” As 2021 comes to a close, Otto’s thoughts on the future bear revisiting as they showcase where the industry’s priorities were at beginning of the year and what the industry did to work towards them.
Captain Simran Singh Tiwana: Star Air CEO Shares His Outlook on the Future of Domestic Air Travel in India
With aviation “born into his blood”, Tiwana, CEO of Star Air, worked to take advantage of one of the most rapidly growing aviation markets in the world. As Indian aviation face the same difficulties stemming from COVID as the rest of the world, Tiwana joined Connected Aviation Today to share how his organization, Star Air, was taking advantage of the disruption.
“Traveling is an inevitable part of human life, while the current situation is a challenge for everyone, with robust safety and security measures in place we can boost confidence among passengers.” Mandatory web check-ins, thermal screening at the airport, sanitization of aircraft, and providing face shields were just a few of the initiatives that were instrumental in helping encourage passengers to return to travel, according to Tiwana. As the road to recovery continues, and international travel seems likely to resume, the Indian market’s adaptation provides a useful example for thoughtful steps forward.
Willie Walsh: IATA Director General Willie Walsh Seeks to Give Industry a Louder Voice
Many people stepped into new roles in 2021, but few had as many immediate responsibilities as Walsh, IATA Director-General. With 40 years of experience in aviation as a pilot and an executive, Walsh was able to quickly adapt to the role and help provide the guidance and insights necessary for the industry to weather the pandemic and implement many innovations designed to make the passenger journey safer and healthier.
Walsh has “never been shy about calling out problems, and there are a lot of them” from his viewpoint. Whereas many larger airlines may feel less inclined to criticize governments agencies that oversee the industry, Walsh made it a point that his role is to call out onerous regulation. With a stronger voice for the industry, Walsh hoped to express the need to update border closures and travel restrictions to the actual level of risk present, adding that “zero COVID is not an option, we are going to have to adapt and live with this virus.” His priorities offer the industry a view on how executives are working to counter fear with information and provide an excellent guideline on how others can follow suit.
Henry Brooks: Looking to the Future of Electric Aircraft and the People Who Innovate
As the President of Power & Controls at Collins Aerospace, Brooks often trains his gaze towards the future. With a key role in the ongoing redefinition of aviation, Brooks strives to make sustainability and energy efficiency a cornerstone of future aircraft.
“Three percent of the world’s human-generated carbon dioxide emissions and 12 percent of CO2 emissions come from all transportation sources,” Brooks noted. That impact weighs heavy on the future of the industry, but Brooks posited that electric aircraft would need to become more prominent as the industry continues to expand. With decreased emissions, lower engine noise, and more cost-effective operation and maintenance costs, Brooks’ insight into how aircraft design has evolved presents a valuable way for the industry to view its long-term plans.
Craig Foster: Airport Self-Service Technology Accelerated by Shifting Health and Safety Demands
Focusing on the health and safety of passengers was at the heart of almost all innovations in 2021, something which Foster noted when discussing self-service technology. As a senior consultant with Valour Consultancy, Foster was able to see exactly how the drive for a healthier air-travel experience propelled the industry to embrace innovative technologies like automation and self-service.
“More opportunities are being realized as a result of the pandemic… from remote ordering to mobile apps to near real-time services that are on-demand,” Foster shared. Airports, airplanes, even the process of booking flights, and getting boarding passes has become more focused on self-service which Foster points towards being the future of air travel, pandemic or not.