It all fell into place… project meetings in Madrid tied in perfectly with the 2019 World ATM Congress. With more customer meetings due to take place on the Egis and Helios stand, I got to visit the leading air traffic management event within my first six months in the industry (something that generated a degree of envy among my colleagues!).
I wasn't sure what to expect, but the vast presence of technological advancements that can help improve air traffic service provision was impressive. Seeing technologies ranging from advanced controller headsets and microphones through to Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to automate ground control systems at airports really brought to life the exciting changes that are to come within the industry. This is particularly interesting for me, coming from an engineering background.
The industry is rightly focussed on safety, and that can introduce (necessary) barriers, so the challenge for the industry is how to demonstrate that the solutions are safe and comply with relevant regulations. The energy to achieve this was particularly evident among the younger people I chatted to. They were optimistic that the industry will overcome the regulatory and safety challenges and they have strong hope that these technologies can be realised sooner rather than later. Is this simply the optimism of youth? Could these ground-breaking technologies dismantle our approach to system validation and implementation? Given recent events involving the new B737 max aircraft and the Gatwick drone incident it seems unlikely that this will happen in the near future. In the past, accidents or incidents such as these have triggered the development of new safety nets (TCAS, STCA) and perhaps that is the direction where AI and other advancements might find an easier path to implementation.
I missed the chance to attend some of the seminar presentations being delivered by colleagues as well as the panel sessions being moderated on other stands. But I very much enjoyed meeting more customers and industry influencers at the drinks reception we held, where we celebrated Egis' 50 years of dedication to aviation. It was talking with those guests that brought home to me how far the company has travelled, and the impressive range of people we have worked with along the way. It was a privilege to be there, and I'm looking forward to attending again in future years.