The 5 Cs of change underpinning aerospace transformation

The aerospace industry is at a crossroads.

Following a period of global disruption, it can now look forward to shaping what its future will look like. That, however, will not be without its difficulties. In particular, it will need to balance the need to meet ambitious sustainability targets with the ongoing drive for productivity and performance in today’s landscape.

These challenges are common across the commercial and defence spaces. A new vision is required that embraces dynamic change: one that will support an ecosystem capable of transitioning to net zero whilst ensuring a viable long-term future.

A long-term future cannot be guaranteed without taking action today. Action that advocates innovation and significantly reduces design lifecycles and cost to reshape aerospace as we know it, sustainably. 

To guide this vision, the industry should transform itself following a set of guiding principles that will help ensure that transformation is wide-reaching and lasting:

Culture – As aerospace faces its greatest period of change to date, its way of thinking change must change too. Leadership which embraces innovation over tradition will be critical, providing the direction and environment to achieve our goals. Openness is equally important. This means re-evaluating the prime-/sub- relationship to share risk and accelerate innovation, and adopting open ways of working that are more collegiate, value idea exchange and are responsive to change. These values might seem uncomfortable to an industry where security and intellectual property are paramount but will provide the platform to enable the level of transformation required.

Collaboration – Improving collaboration goes hand-in-hand with cultural change. While collaboration exists with success today, that must be taken further. With pressures on design timescales and cost control growing, collaborating earlier will help manage this. Working with stakeholders of different expertise will add value and help shape programmes with these aims in mind, and potentially foresee future challenges. On a larger scale, we should strive to leverage sector-wide synergies wherever possible. Sustainability, electrification and future fuels are just a few common challenges across commercial and defence. Knowledge sharing across the two will realise benefits for all.

Cross-fertilisation – Just like the commercial and defence sectors can learn from one another, aerospace’s best partners may be outside the industry. Sustainability, for example, is a priority of virtually every industry and work done elsewhere is readily transferable. Technologies such as AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are great enablers of change and will be a great source of value as we work towards our common goals.

Connectivity – In today’s model, the various stages of production remain siloed. This impacts time-to-market and cost. A joined-up approach to the design and manufacturing phases that creates a “digital thread” is needed. Open systems based and interoperability will see data written only once and then re-used throughout a project, delivering efficiencies in the industrial process that addresses these problems while being more sustainable.

Competence – The adoption of all these values, and the long-term future of aerospace, hinges on having the necessary skills and pool of talent available. There is a chronic shortage at all levels today which is holding back the pace of transformation and this needs to be addressed. Technology and AI will have an increasingly important role to play, managing statistical analysis and automating repetitive tasks for greater efficiency. An emphasis on training will provide the specialist technical expertise required. Retaining and attracting new talent can be achieved via repositioning aerospace, putting a focus on the exciting work already happening.

The future of aerospace is dependent on us pulling together as an industry. The opportunity to set the direction we take is there and will allow us to shape a sustainable, economically viable future. By uniting today, around the common values of “The Five Cs”, we can set ourselves on a course for success by 2025 that will ensure long-term success and growth.

Expleo will be exhibiting at FIA 2022 and can be found at Stand 1151, Hall 1, where it will launch its latest report into the challenges and opportunities facing the industry today: “The future of aerospace, now.”

For more information on Expleo at FIA 2022 or to book a meeting with Expleo, please visit our dedicated microsite.


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