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Excite and Innovate to Add Value, Summit Participants Told

1,500 Global Aerospace Summit delegates share experience to help new and established industries grow


Aerospace and associated industries need to excite and innovate if they are to succeed over the long term, delegates at the second Global Aerospace Summit heard yesterday.  

The sectors need to excite interest among young people at ever-earlier ages if they are to be sure of attracting the ‘best and brightest’ into their workforces, panel participants said.  Innovative new technologies provide a clear route to create this excitement.

The point was shown clearly on Tuesday morning as legend Buzz Aldrin – Astronaut, Apollo 11, gave the first keynote speech, to sustained applause from the audience. Throughout the Summit, business leaders from aerospace, aviation, defense and space industries told how Mr Aldrin’s steps on the moon 45 years ago had inspired them into the industry.

Summit participants took part in a wide range of panel discussions, aimed at addressing key issues facing the industries.  Two clear themes that came up repeatedly were the difficulties in attracting, training and retaining the best graduates, and the opportunities to be utilized from successful industrialization.

Jean-Bernard Levy – Chairman and CEO, Thales, said the world was seeing a huge shift in the focus of industrialization.

“We are not going to get a lot of growth from the western economies but, we will get a lot from the east. When a company like ours still has more than 90 percent of its workforce in western countries, obviously this is something we need to re-organize and it is one of the key challenges.  We need to re-assemble industrial presence where we will get our growth from.”

A number of speakers from international markets supported the point. Ivor Ichikowitz, Group Executive Chairman of Africa’s largest privately owned defense and aerospace business Paramount Group, said:  “Sitting on southern tip of Africa, we have some of the most remarkable aerospace and defence capabilities in the world. Emerging economies can contribute.  There is myth that if you are not from Europe or the USA then you are not able to be a player in that game. We prove that wrong.”

Muharrem Dortkasli, President and CEO of Turkish Aerospace Industries, said these industries could act as a catalyst for GDP growth.

“The average per kg value of our defense and aerospace exports is 16 times higher than the Turkish average.  This industry uses the dynamics of all the partners of society – education, SMEs, etc - and it gives value to the GDP of your country.”

Dato’ Wan Hashim, the Executive Director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority, said having a skilled workforce was critical:

“The aerospace industry has been identified as a strategic industry that will take Malaysia’s industrialization to the future.  Investment in aerospace is an important catalyst for growth in Malaysia.

“The no 1 strength for Malaysian industry is our trainable and educated human resource force.  We have no doubt that Malaysia will be the next aerospace hub in the Asia Pacific region.”

Badr Al Olama, CEO, Strata, commented that these industries offered opportunities for all.  “We started with a vision, a strategy under Abu Dhabi 2030.  It is hot, humid and dusty here – manufacturing in aerospace was unheard of. Now, 40 percent of our workforce is made up of UAE nationals and 80 per cent of those are women. The women are the ones making the product – they are the success story.”

Dr. Karima Matar Al Mazroui, Curriculum Division Manager Abu Dhabi Education Council, said the UAE had a program to reach young people:

“The Little Engineers Program is a great opportunity for our young students. It will encourage them to enjoy education and to have a better understanding of the UAE’s needs of future workforce as well as the opportunities they will have.

“We have seen that when the students go upstream and engage with the current workforce, it helps develops their interest in the industries and careers whey will pursue.

“Today was really successful, when we were first got approached by Mubadala for this program we aimed to have 50 students of the age 10-12, but we ended up with 150 students,” she added. 

Speakers identified many opportunities to excite interest in the industry.

William F. Lyon, Director, Global R&D Strategy, Boeing Research and Technology (BR&T), said:  “Aerospace really connects to that higher purpose that people want to connect to others, to explore the world with others.  I see access to space, relentless exploration of not just of our world but potentially the solar system.”

Buzz Aldrin agreed, saying partnership would be critical. “I believe in global cooperation,” he said.  “Now is the time to get the world together working in space.  I see only advantages for the US and rest of the world and now is the time to do something about it.

“I also believe commercial development plays a major role in future of space.”

Sujeet Samaddar, Director and CEO of ShinMaywa Industries India Private Limited, saw opportunities closer to earth. “In 1903 we saw 20 seconds and 130 foot of flight; now we fly 8,000 miles.  Where do we think the next big milestone will be? Time is the essence, so hypersonic flight is possibly the future in aviation.

“Safety will be important. To ensure these flights are safe it will require much more than human skills.”

Fittingly for an event staged in a Formula 1 host city, Nick Sale, Chief Operating Office of Tata Technologies, said innovators could learn from the sport. “We can learn from Formula 1. F1 teams have product development being released in a couple of days due to the competitive element.”

Keynote speaker Buzz Aldrin has lost none of his ability to excite and inspire. As he closed his remarks, a member of the audience stood up in front of the packed hall and expressed interest in investing personal capital into the former astronaut’s vision for humans to reach Mars.  Michael R. Bright, Vice President of Aerojet Rocketdyne, is to meet with Mr Aldrin to discuss the venture further.

Held under the Patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the second Global Aerospace Summit attracted well over 1,500 delegates from 425 companies in 56 countries.