A wag once said that prophecy involves observing the past and guessing it will happen again. Perhaps. Aviation is known to be a cyclical industry.
But in addition to its economic ups and downs, the aviation industry currently is witnessing fundamental change. For example, 100 years after the Wright Brothers showed that man can fly, the trend in the military is increasingly to use unmanned aircraft. We’ve seen technology advancements such as synthetic vision and broadband connectivity. Commercial off-the-shelf has changed long-standing acquisition policies, and customer preference in the air transport market has altered the traditional airline business model to include low-cost carriers and more point-to-point air travel. Most important, geopolitically, terrorist activities have created a volatile environment and the predominance of homeland security. In short, as we state in our Outlook 2004 story, the avionics field serves–and in many ways has done much to create–a much different aviation industry from what existed, say, five years ago.
With this in mind, Frost & Sullivan, in addition to providing much of the statistical data for our Outlook 2004 story, also has listed some suggestions for avionics companies to follow in these still unsteady times. They are:
Contain costs and recognize that customers probably are going to remain quite price conscious, even when times get better;
Maintain a strong research and development pipeline;
Conserve key personnel (at the recent Aerospace Industries Association’s 39th annual Year-End Review and Forecast, President and CEO John Douglass reported that aerospace employment in the United States today has plummeted to about half that in 1990, when the U.S. industry employed more than 1.1 million people);
Develop solutions to meet growing airframe and manufacturer requirements, such as lean manufacturing practices, and assume a greater role in the design and integration of aircraft avionics systems;
Continue to work with airlines to further define next-generation systems;
Resolve maintenance and parts issues, as well as man-machine interfacing; and
Assume a greater role in the design and integration of aircraft avionics systems.
To second-tier suppliers, F&S suggests "focusing on partnerships and integration of core technical capabilities or systems to develop aircraft- or segment-specific avionics solutions." And for companies targeting growth in business and general aviation, the firm proclaims that "developing integrated avionics solutions is essential." Also, subsystem suppliers should partner with a first-tier player to gain indirect access to this market.
In our Outlook 2004 story, we indicate strong, steady growth for the avionics industry. F&S’ recommendations should help companies be a part of that growth.
Avionics Expo 2004
On a different and somewhat mercenary note, companies and individuals may be interested in adding Avionics Expo 2004 to their future plans. Avionics Expo 2003, held in November in Wiesbaden, Germany, was deemed a success, encouraging its UK-based organizers, Simply Events, to schedule the event again this year. Indeed, many of the about 125 paid conference attendees at the 2003 event voiced positive feedback, and nearly 70 percent of the exhibitors signed up to return this year. Avionics Expo 2004 will be held Nov. 4-5, again, at the Wiesbaden conference center.
Avionics Magazine was pleased to be a part of Avionics Expo 2003 and looks forward to working with Simply Events on the 2004 event. We plan to help coordinate a conference that, again, spotlights future technologies and tomorrow’s air operations environment.
We will keep you posted on developments involving Avionics Expo 2004 and hope to see you at Wiesbaden.