The demand for change

ELE Advanced Technologies’ CEO, Manesh Pandya
ELE Advanced Technologies’ CEO, Manesh Pandya

It’s both a challenging and exciting time for the aerospace sector. With so many factors at play, the demand for change is strong. According to ELE Advanced Technologies’ CEO, Manesh Pandya the opportunity to grow the industry’s size and sustainability is clear, however a substantial shift in the culture may be needed to make these aspirations a reality.

Aerospace has already seen significant change over recent decades. My involvement in aircraft engine manufacture began over 30 years’ ago while working at a division of Linread. Since then we’ve seen the embedding of Lean manufacturing principles and, more recently, the advancement of digital technologies within the aerospace sector. However, I believe an even more seismic change lies ahead.

When considering what the future might look like, let’s give some thought to the challenges and opportunities we currently face. Short-term there’s the obvious challenge of inflation. At ELE Advanced Technologies our energy costs alone have increased by 200% and it doesn’t stop there. The impact ripples across the whole supply chain ramping up all production costs. It’s certainly a major hurdle we all face, now.

More longer-term, there’s the complexity of the supply chain to consider and the need to have the capability to manage it effectively. Doing so will enable the ability to manage working capital and increase profitability, to invest in developing capabilities to remain globally competitive.

For those firms that can be resilient and progressive, the prospects for the sector are bright. With increased demand for air travel across the globe due to better affordability, accessibility and awareness, the civil sector looks likely to be buoyant for the next 10-15 years. Developing economies are expanding their fleet numbers and developed economies are replacing aging aircraft – with Air India’s recent placing of the largest order on record being a perfect example. The defence aircraft sector too remains strong due to increasing threat levels seen worldwide.

But there’s one major factor I’ve not yet mentioned. Sustainability. The drive to improve efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions to meet Net Zero targets will need to sit alongside the desire to meet increased demand. And it will need to progress at the same speed.

Shifts in sustainability that will come from transitioning to different fuels and technologies will clearly take time. Given the safety critical nature of aerospace the certification of new technologies and capabilities is a robust and lengthy process. The challenges of electric propulsion in terms of the range and weight of batteries will need to be addressed and compensated through reduction in the size of aircraft or fewer passengers. However the speed at which EVs have developed (albeit slower than needed) demonstrates the speed at which technology can evolve.

In aerospace there has already been good progress towards reducing extensive lead-times for the manufacture, assembly and testing of aero engine manufacture. This charge has been led by major OEMs to meet demand. As demand for their products increases further, the lead-times will need to reduce even faster.

It's clear that the need to meet increased demand in the aerospace sector in an environmentally sustainable way will drive the change required for greener technologies. At ELE Advanced Technologies we have always found it comparatively easy to change our processes and culture to meet change in global demand over the past 20-plus years. With one example being development of our technologies and capabilities to deliver a unique turbine blade cooling solution that increases the performance and efficiency of aerospace engines.

The aerospace sector may now need to adapt more aggressively to embrace new technologies and meet increased demand. But for those that do jump on board, the sky’s literally the limit.

https://eleat.co.uk

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