Monday, February 20, 2023

Engineer Week - 2023

I was asked to speak to a group of engineers today. Here were the questions I was asked and my talking points. What did I miss?

In your 40+ year illustrious career that you have had, what are the inflection points you have seen in Technology that have influenced and defined Aerospace of today?

  • Digital Processors
  • Glass Cockpit – moving map, information, crew alerting
  • IRS - GPS  
  • ETOPS 180 twins - turbofan – higher and higher thrust, reliability, efficiency
  • Composite aircraft structure
  • Lie-flat bed
  • Automation – Autopilot/Autothrottle/Flight Management
  • Augmentation - Flight Envelope Protection
  • Children of the Magenta Line

How have the macro-trends and Industry changed and where do you see Aerospace heading in the next 5-10 years?

  • Low-cost carrier 
  • Rise of the twinjets  – 787 & A350 & 777X long range
  • Hub to  Point-to-Point
  • Aircraft Leasing – majority of world-wide fleet

What excites you the most?

  • Satellite Communications 
  • Electronic Flight Bag – EFB - Pandora’s Box
  • Sustainable Aviation – Hydrogen (fuel cell) – Electric Thrust
  • Urban Air Mobility – Air Taxi

What could be the top 3-4 areas which would see the most amount of innovation in Aerospace in the next decade? 

  • What is a pilot – sunny day  - loss of flying skills – managing non-normal
  • Virtualization - Software Defined Functionality
  • Walmart model – how to address smaller airport community– small pax aircraft, pilot shortage, feeder airports constrained 50 seat vs larger airplanes

What kind of differentiation would these new innovation areas mean for companies?

  • Deep pool of engineering talent, Diverse product portfolio, global footprint

How do you think the Aerospace industry responding to a range of shifts – COVID, Hybrid work, ESG etc.? 

  • From a passenger perspective
    • Air quality
    • Hygiene 
  • From an operator perspective
    • Low Load factors but kept the slots
    • Government aid– airline just not flexible enough – leasing Vs owning fleet
    • Easy to shut down, hard to grow back
  • From a supplier perspective
    • Staffing – work from home
    • Supply chain

What new business opportunities do you see as a result of changing technology landscape in Aerospace? 

  • Pilot robot for legacy aircraft
    • Where do we get the captain of the future
  • Machine Learning – modeling expected behaviors – EGPWS data base
  • ATC improvements
    • HF Voice to Sat voice to the HF radio operator - Routine
    • Fix the ground side
  • Taxi fuel savings

How should the technology leaders of today adapt their leadership style as compared to before?

  • Management by Edict – Fear (don’t listen when they are yelling)
  • Management by Committee – Consensus & Coaching (can be hard to make decisions)
  • Management by Cost/Profit and Schedule (don’t care what they are hearing)
  • Voice of the customer: one airline and 737
  • Voice of the customer: 757/767 – 747-400 – 777 working together
  • 787 risk sharing – loss of ownership – integration –  Open communication
  • Recognize and value the internal customers

What should they unlearn and what should they adopt? 

  • Diversity, Inclusion
  • Technical team – engineers are mobile and in-demand – need to retain them – not a commodity
  • Global diversified supply chain/ Outsourcing Vs vertically integrated (SpaceX)
  • Staff appropriately – don’t build in too many layers between experts
  • System Integration Organization – no one understands everything

We see business models evolving and changing around us – we are seeing aggregation -- with the competition coming to serve demands together, consortiums and partnerships around data and market place, subscription based business, no fee business, freemium, ecosystem model, hypermarket , constant-innovation business, data driven business etc.

  • Is Motivation in the right direction for everyone
  • Service provider upgrades equipment as needed, job starts with installation
  • Equipment supplier sells equipment and moves on after installation

What is your opinion around the way Aerospace business will evolve?

  • Preserving capital – aircraft leasing – 55% leased – flexibility – risk for loss at resale
  • Borrowing – Stock Buybacks – Loss in R&D spending R&D not ROI
  • Commonality – captive customer taking advantage – keep them on-edge
  • Success is lowest fare and tradeoff experience
    • passengers will pay for better experience 
    • divided up cabins – saver – economy premium – business class
    • ancillary revenue
  • Consolidation

Stay tuned!

Peter Lemme

peter @
Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved

Peter Lemme has been a leader in avionics engineering for 42 years. He offers independent consulting services largely focused on avionics and L, Ku, and Ka band satellite communications to aircraft. Peter chaired the SAE-ITC AEEC Ku/Ka-band satcom subcommittee for more than ten years, developing ARINC 791 and 792 characteristics, and continues as a member. He also contributes to the Network Infrastructure and Interfaces (NIS) subcommittee.

Peter was Boeing avionics supervisor for 767 and 747-400 data link recording, data link reporting, and satellite communications. He was an FAA designated engineering representative (DER) for ACARS, satellite communications, DFDAU, DFDR, ACMS and printers. Peter was lead engineer for Thrust Management System (757, 767, 747-400), also supervisor for satellite communications for 777, and was manager of terminal-area projects (GLS, MLS, enhanced vision).

An instrument-rated private pilot, single engine land and sea, Peter has enjoyed perspectives from both operating and designing airplanes. Hundreds of hours of flight test analysis and thousands of hours in simulators have given him an appreciation for the many aspects that drive aviation; whether tandem complexity, policy, human, or technical; and the difficulties and challenges to achieving success. 

No comments:

Post a Comment