When one of your colleagues drops you a line to ask you to help at an event, you have to wonder who they called first, how far down the list you were…and why everyone else was ‘busy’. I was pleasantly surprised when the ask was to go to Farnborough International Air Show (FIA). Little did my colleague know at the time that I am a closet plane spotter – having grown up living on RAF bases all over the place.
So, on the hottest day on record, it was time to dust down and don my suit (less the jacket and tie) as I was off to the #FIA to support our friends at Embraer (who quickly made us feel part of the family). For those that do not know, Embraer is a Brazilian multinational aerospace manufacturer that produces commercial, military, executive and agricultural aircraft, as well as aeronautical services.
I was taken aback by the sheer scale of the event. It certainly dwarfed all the motor and tech shows I’ve ever been to. The array of displays was terrific – there was something for everyone. Be it a private jet, a passenger plane, a drone, some missiles, a stealth fighter… they had it covered. What was unsurprising, yet a juxtaposition (when thinking about thirsty planes) nonetheless, was that everyone was talking about ESG.
There were plenty of press conferences and releases around future fuels and decarbonising aviation (which is responsible for about 3% of global emissions) as well as sustainable design. On the Embraer stand, they made several announcements about their progress around developing green initiatives to make their aircraft cleaner and quieter with the goal of achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Throughout my time at the show there were some incredible displays from a ‘stealth’ F35-B which showed its hover capabilities, the massive Airbus A350 whose ballsy pilot was obviously keen to show off its manoeuvrability and the beast that is the multi-mission aircraft, KC-390. It is incredible what those aircraft seem to be able to do – some look as if it should be impossible for them to get off the ground.
Naturally, there were some more ‘unusual’ looking aircraft at the show – mainly in the form of eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing) at the show. This future transport mode seems to be picking up momentum – especially due to its versatility and extensive use cases such as urban air mobility (taxis, deliveries, medical assistance), search and rescue, and military. EVE also unveiled an eVTOL cabin as part of their safe, accessible, and green air mobility ecosystem. Another eVTOL player, Lilium, displayed at the show and announced several partnerships. And it seems it is not just aircraft manufacturers and start-ups who are getting into this space – it is the auto industry too. Hyundai Motor Group showcased the cabin of their Supernal and talked about how it will integrate its automotive capabilities to help develop the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) market.
It is obvious (even as an industry ‘outsider’) that there are lots of challenges facing the aviation industry, but there are exciting times ahead – especially around zero and alternative fuel aircraft. In the meantime, here’s a wrap video from our friends at Embraer.