RITIKA SHARMA / EMIRATES BUSINESS
The two-day Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi brought together experts from the aviation field on a common platform, which hosted discussions on the future of the industry.
During the event â€” held as part of Abu Dhabi Aviation Week 2016 â€” panel discussions and strategy sessions were organsied in line with the theme of the week â€” Building the Future of Aerospace through Innovation. The sessions called for a better understanding and analysis of contemporary defence challenges and the urgency for an affordable industry response.
A new generation of military threats, improved aviation safety and drones for disaster relief were on the agenda during the event. Experts discussed how technology can be used to handle the increasing number of security challenges that the regionâ€™s aerospace industry is facing.
HE Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi Director General, UAE Space Agency said, â€œThe Global Aerospace Summit gives us the perfect opportunity to focus on what has been achieved in our industries so far and look ahead at where we want to go and what we want to accomplish. The summit is important as itâ€™s a chance to forge partnerships, learn lessons and further raise the profile of Abu Dhabi and the UAE as a destination and as a vibrant centre for business growth and development.â€
â€œWe (the UAE) have become a hotbed for innovation and development within the aviation, aerospace and space sectors and we are well suited to welcome the top players within these fields to deliberate and analyse these industries,â€ he said.
Presently, the UAE operates more than seven satellites for commercial, defence and government use. It is worth a mention here that DubaiSat 2 which was launched into orbit in 2013, was 70 percent designed by Emiratis. KhalifaSat will be 100 percent developed by Emirati engineers in South Korea, and all further development, manufacture, and testing will be moved to EIAST headquarters in Dubai.
TECH-ASPECT OF AVIATION
Cyber security in aero-space industry remained another important topic discussed during the event. During one of panel discussions titled â€“ â€˜Cyber security: is technology exposing your enterprise and critical assets to a greater risk?â€™ experts evaluated the role of ethical hackers and UAVs in making systems fool proof.
Eric Eifert, Senior Vice President, Managed Security Services, DarkMatter said, â€œThere is a lot of intellectual property in the aerospace industry that could be an advantage to competitors â€“ and militaries â€“ who are interested in obtaining that information. We have also seen a large shift to insider threats, both intentional and unintentional insiders that already have access to your critical information for unintended or unauthorized purposes, to either obtain that information or accidently release that to your competitors or foreign governments who are interested in obtaining that information.â€
Calling for an integrated approach towards the problem, Hoda A. Alkhzaimi, Head of Cyber Security and Cryptography Department, Emirates Technology Innovation Center (ETIC) said, â€œThere should be a proper framework that addresses the real threats, where the definition of this framework should be different by bringing in people in the field of establishing this framework who also work in the aerospace and cyber-security industries, where the concept of security by design will be raised, meaning the DNA of these systems would be secure, in contrast to having security on top of the model later on.â€
THE GROWING TRAFFIC IN AVIATION:
However the concerns remained centre of discussion thought the event, experts also expressed their optimism about growth of the industry. Alex Thursby, Group CEO, National Bank of Abu Dhabi â€“ NBAD during one of sessions said, â€œOn a broader platform, running an airline â€“ we have a specialty in aviation. We all know itâ€™s one of the toughest industries. On the optimistic side, we see continuation of huge growth, providing all the facilitators around airport administration, airport building traffic, global traffic systems, etc.
â€œWe see that possibly by 2035, there could be up to 7 billion annual passenger flights. From that perspective, itâ€™s very good. I think there is a huge complex set of factors that have to be managed by an airline. The competitiveness of airlines now is looking like those who hedged and those who did not. In addition, airlines have to consider the revaluation of their hedges,â€ he said.
â€œ15-20 years ago, you were seeing airlines, mainly in the Far East, hedging 3 to 5 years of fuel. When the market went down, their capital was affected, their earnings were affected, and competitive position was affected. Unfortunately, price elasticity is very fragmented.â€ he explained further.