16 May 2023

EXECUTIVE INTERVIEW: Kuljit Ghata-Aura, President, Boeing Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META)

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Now that Boeing has crossed centuries, can you tell us about what the journey looks like from here?

There’s more innovation underway today at Boeing than at any time in our 106-year history. Globally, our teams continue to transform how we design and build our products, the systems that enable us to work more efficiently, and the work we do to improve the environmental performance of our products.
Advances in autonomy, artificial intelligence, data analytics, hybrid and fully electric propulsion, and additive manufacturing are unlocking new possibilities that will help us reimagine travel and transport. In 2022, we invested around USD 4 billion in research to develop and unite tech capabilities that offer new solutions to better connect the world on a local, regional and global scale. We are closely working with airlines, governments, and other stakeholders to address the challenges facing the industry and to create new opportunities for growth and innovation, including here in the Middle East.

What role do compliance and ethics play in getting you there?

Our mission—to protect, connect and explore our world and beyond—is supported by our unwavering commitment to safety, quality, integrity and sustainability. Compliance and ethics are tightly woven into the fabric of our values and our culture. Each year, we have our employees sign a Code of Conduct and participate in Boeing’s Ethics Recommitment. We believe that how we do our work is just as important as the work we do.

Boeing has a blended wing body model and the Transonic Truss- Braced Wing, which are getting a lot of traction with the sustainability crowd and the research community. Do you feel like you’ve got a horse in the race there?

We see tremendous opportunity in the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) design concept. Creating a full-sized demonstrator in partnership with NASA will allow us to test and validate technologies that will inform future design for airplanes that will better respect the environment as we connect people, places and ideas. When combining the TTBW’s airframe aerodynamic benefits with projected benefits of advanced propulsion systems, operational efficiency strategies, and advanced high-rate composite technologies, we expect up to 30% gains in fuel efficiency and emissions reductions, relative to a current best-in-class single-aisle airplane. At Boeing, we have been advancing a multi-pronged sustainability strategy, including fleet renewal, operational efficiency, renewable energy and advanced technologies to support the industry objective of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Sustainable Flight Demonstrator builds on more than a decade of NASA, Boeing, and our industry partners’ investments to help achieve these objectives.

Can you discuss how Boeing’s history and longevity assist create a competitive advantage when it comes to developing the correct culture of integrity in the face of severe competition from both new and nimble upstarts (SpaceX, Blue Origin, etc.) and established competitors in your industry? For instance, as a more established business, you’ve probably had many experiences over the years, both positive and negative, that startups are unlikely to have had.

For over a century, Boeing’s mission is to connect, protect and explore the world through aerospace innovation. We have a worldwide view of our business. And for us to accomplish this mission, we collaborate with colleagues and partners from every corner of the world. Boeing competes for high-quality talent globally, with teammates and operations in more than 65 countries. We’re investing in our people and will continue hiring in key areas as the commercial market recovers, production rates expand and we invest in innovation, engineering, manufacturing, quality and stability. We are strong advocates of startups. We are partnering with startups and other companies to bring new technologies and ideas to market more quickly and efficiently.

An example of that is our Aerospace Xelerated program. It’s a funded three-month accelerator program that aims to solve key challenges for the aerospace sector. We aim to empower start-ups that have the potential to make a truly global impact. We are currently running the fourth cohort in partnership with Tawazun Council, the defense and security acquisitions authority of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This partnership is a testament to the growing aerospace ecosystem in the region, especially here in the UAE.

What are the latest development currently Boeing is looking at?

One of our focus areas is unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and the safe introduction of these vehicles into the airspace. Boeing has invested $450 million in Wisk, an autonomous, passenger-carrying electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi. The aircraft is being designed with the highest safety standards and will become an accessible and sustainable transportation option for millions of people around the world. Currently in its sixth generation, the aircraft has room for four passengers, carry-on luggage and personal items, can fly 145 kilometers and recharges in 15 minutes. Boeing has spent decades developing autonomous aerospace capabilities that are now emerging: examples other than Wisk are Starliner, MQ-25, MQ-28, XLUUV and X-37B.

What objectives is Boeing considering for the upcoming Dubai Air Show?

We are looking forward to Dubai Airshow. It will be the biggest aerospace event this year and in an important and growing region. Dubai Airshow is the perfect opportunity to further collaborations in areas of mutual importance such as sustainable travel. We look forward to connecting with our customers and industry partners from the region and beyond. As you know Boeing is a large company with a diverse portfolio of products and services. Dubai Airshow will allow us to showcase that unique capability and demonstrate how we leverage that strength across the company – and in our supply chain – to address our industry’s most complex problems. We will continue our laser focused efforts on advancing sustainable aviation and this will be showcased throughout Dubai Airshow and COP28 taking place soon after, also in the UAE.

What are the sustainable initiatives Boeing has taken up for the next new set of aircrafts?

We are united with our customers and governments around the globe in committing to bold climate change ambitions, and support civil aviation’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Boeing is acting on its commitment to deliver 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)-capable airplanes in 2030 and catalyzing the scaling of sustainable aviation fuel. I’m sure you are aware of the recent milestone demonstrating this, when Emirates Airlines operated a demonstration flight on a Boeing 777-300ER, powering one of its engines with 100% SAF. But let’s talk about our overall strategy when it comes to advancing sustainable aviation. We believe the future of flight will require us to simultaneously pursue multiple pathways to achieve net zero carbon emissions. Boeing’s four strategic pathways to reduce emissions are fleet renewal, operational efficiency, renewable energy and advanced technologies.

  • Fleet renewal: New airplanes provide significant efficiency gains — each generation reduces fuel use and emissions 15-25%. Fully deploying the latest generation airplanes is the most significant contribution to CO2 emissions reduction available over the next decade. Many customers have accelerated retiring older airplanes during the pandemic to optimize their fleets with the latest, most-efficient models.
  • Operational Efficiency: The aviation industry continues to collaborate on how to fly more efficiently, which collectively can reduce emissions by about 10%. These include procedures such as continuous descent approaches, equipment upgrades such as GPS-based navigation for more direct routings. We develop services to leverage data for fuel efficiency, help customers optimize flight planning, and provide pilots with real-time weather and traffic information.
  • Renewable Energy: We believe a “SAF and”, not a “SAF or” solution will be required. However, under any scenario for the introduction of future advanced aircraft products with new energy carriers, we will need massive amounts of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) if we are to meet the civil aviation’s commitment to net zero by 2050. SAF is widely accepted today as a drop-in replacement for conventional jet fuel that works with existing airplanes and offers the largest potential to reduce carbon emissions over the next 20-30 years in all aviation segments. When produced sustainably, scientific studies show that SAF can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% compared to petroleum fuel over its life cycle and have the potential to reach 100% in the future.
  • Advanced Technology: We believe the future of flight will incorporate the latest digital design, test, and production tools, airframe, propulsion and systems technology, and different power and energy solutions will apply to different market segments and aircraft sizes. As part of the ‘SAF and’ approach, Boeing continues to advance the safety and viability of other renewable energy sources and their use on aircraft. Boeing has maintained workplace net-zero carbon emissions, specifically at manufacturing sites and other facilities and in its business travel since 2020. We are continuously increasing renewable energy use, conserving resources, and using carefully selected offsets to sustain this achievement. Our approach to creating a sustainable future is grounded in data, scientific research, collaboration and extensive testing.

What is the most demanded commercial aircraft from Boeing and what could be the aspects of its strong demands globally?

Boeing Commercial Airplanes is committed to being the leader in commercial aviation by offering airplanes and services that deliver superior design, efficiency and value to our customers and a superior flying experience to their customers. Today, there are more than 10,000 Boeing commercial jetliners in service; airplanes that fly farther on less fuel, airplanes that reduce airport noise and emissions, airplanes that provide passenger-preferred comfort while delivering superior bottom-line performance to operators. Leadership for today and tomorrow. That’s a better way to fly.

Source: Aviation360

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