The 2nd ZAL Innovation Days in Hamburg on 27 and 28 February are all about robotics and automation: how advanced technologies are revolutionizing work processes.

Hamburg, Germany | February 28, 2019– What does a factory of the future look like? What role will people play and what will be done by machines? The ZAL Innovation Days will address such questions on February 27th and 28th in Hamburg. Following the successful premiere in 2017, this high-level international innovation conference will take place for the second time in Hamburg’s ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research. The patron for this event is the German Aerospace Coordinator Thomas Jarzombek. In addition to a series of high-profile lectures on the topic from the perspective of science and industry, the practical application of new technologies will be dealt with in workshops and in the exhibition space. Among other things, a table-top football robot, a new inkjet-based aircraft coating system and a robot butler for the manufacturing hangar will be on display.

One thing is for sure: nobody needs to fear a horror scenario in which robots cause unemployment in the long term. On the contrary, the ever stronger link between work performed by people, and that done by machines is creating true teamwork in production. Concrete examples can also be observed at our venue, the ZAL TechCenter, in which more than 30 partners from industry and science conduct research together.

A case in point, Airbus and Helmut Schmidt University are testing the use of so-called exoskeletons in aircraft production; assistance systems that aid production workers in the lifting of heavy loads, for example in cabin upgrades. The start-up Synergeticon has programmed a collaborative robot in the ZAL TechCentre that relieves workers of physically demanding work on the factory floor, such as the riveting of the roof fuselage segments. Thanks to finely calibrated sensors, the robots cannot get in anyone’s way.

Presenters at the ZAL Innovation Days 2019 include Peter Haas of the Brown University Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative, Prof. Dr. med. Wolfgang Wahlster from the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and representatives of leading companies such as Bosch, NVIDIA and KUKA. A dozen professional workshops, several practical demonstrations in the exhibition area and an exclusive evening event on the Elbe will round off the event.

In his political keynote, the Federal Government’s aerospace coordinator, Thomas Jarzombek, emphasized the importance of digital innovation for aviation:

“New digital technologies open up completely new possibilities for optimizing production processes, thus increasing efficiency. Keywords such as intelligent and automated production, robotics and artificial intelligence are becoming tangible and understandable for the aviation industry – particularly here in the ZAL.”Jarzombek also reported on the latest independent evaluation of the BMWi aviation research program LuFo: “With LuFo, we created approx. 23,500 additional jobs with compulsory social insurance contributions between 2012 and 2017. A € 100 research grant led directly to additional production of € 200.”

The smart integration of robotics and automation into production process is one of the central issues in the aviation industry worldwide and is also one of the core topics of our research activities here in the ZAL. That’s why we deliberately chose this theme for the ZAL Innovation Days 2019 here in Hamburg – to discuss nation and industry-wide strategies,” says Roland Gerhards, CEO ZAL Center for Applied Aerospace Research.

As you probably know, the Paris Air Show begins next week and there will be a few IFEC folks in the crowd. We have heard from Latitude Aero, Astronics, Thales, and Panasonic just to name a few. We shall see what IFEC news comes about but we thought that there are a number of other issues that deserve watching, and because it is an air show, we will start with a few notes on what to watch from Boeing and Airbus:

  • We anticipate Boeing will launch the Boeing 737-10 MAX at the show. While not the anticipated MoM plane, it carries up to 232 passengers and has a max range of 3,800 nautical miles (N M). We also expect to see the Boeing 737-9 (now under flight tests) there for viewing.
  • The big question is: Will Boeing Launch the New Middle Airplane, the Boeing 797 – and we think the answer is yes. Between the Boeing 737 MAX and the Boeing 787, the range and passenger requirements for the new middle aircraft market is coming alive in the near future and this plane will carry some 220 to 270 passengers and cover 4,800 – 5,000 nautical miles.
  • You should expect to see the Boeing 787-10 at this year’s show as it was introduced in the 2013 Paris Air Show. With 330 passengers in a two-class configuration, the aircraft will fly some 6,300 N M. And, yes, it is a twin-aisle aircraft.
  • While not announced as a product yet, expect to see more on the Airbus 350-2000. This aircraft is a potential competitor to the Boeing 777-9X. While Airbus has questioned the market for a bigger (400+ seat market), IFExpress doesn’t expect to see much more than a stretch with range reduction of the -1000.
  • The Airbus A330neo will probably not be at the Paris Airshow as the first flight has been moved to late summer.
  • The Airbus A320neo should be there and while it has been in service for some 18 months now, it does have some Pratt & Whitney engine issues. This airplane has 3,616 orders so we expect it to be front-and-center.
  • The A380 should make a showing, and while orders have slowed, the production line is only some 12 planes per year with a backlog of 107 aircraft.
  • While not expected in “person”, we anticipate plenty of information on the Chinese COMAC C919, which just had a first flight last month. It serves 158 passengers 4075 km in standard configuration and 5,555 in the extended version.
  • The Russian MC-21, which had its first flight this past month, probably will not be at Paris because of the huge testing requirements ahead, but you never know! (Editor’s Note: This would be a good place to note that COMAC (China) and UAC (Russia) have formed a joint venture to develop a new MoM aircraft (Shanghai assembly) for delivery in 2027 – 280 seats / 7,500 nm).

The aviation industry has other new developments that you may see at the show as well. New products/services based on market evolution and technological changes may bring some surprising technology to Paris. While aircraft order levels are down; production levels are up (1490 per year – 2017 est.), as order backlog hits some 14,000+ planes. But today’s flat market order changes will have some unknown impact. Further, with the “book-to-build-ratio” now below 1.0 (problem) and airlines are flying over 80% full (beneficial), who knows what will happen.

The aircraft market is expected to double in 15 years so manufacturing impact will be the other thing to watch at the air show – especially robotic production. Further, a lot of data (or Big Data) and related data changes will affect the airplane markets thus suppliers of data solutions, data services, data related hardware and big data experts will be there.

As digital transformations affect airlines and plane makers alike, a need to innovate for new aircraft and to improve performance may be a big deal – as we said, data applications will start to grow and thus data players are bound to be in Paris as well. For example, applications of “the cloud” and the challenge of securing them will no doubt bring a whole new set of aviation specialists, which will undoubtedly include Cybersecurity specialists as well. We expect to also see 3D printing and robotic manufacturing folks as the technology begins to invade the airplane (and airline) markets. With “big data” changes coming and with improved connectivity available, airplane maintenance and flight performance analysis will be a focal point, no doubt, and the solutions for using it will be there as well. Finally, Boeing, and possibly Airbus, (and independents) will be there for service analysis  (with aftermarket revenues) and especially since parts and humans increase costs. It ought to be a good and technology diversified show!

(Editor’s Note:”In fact, following the seven big mega trends will probably give you as good idea of what will be new at the show –  Remember CAMBRIC, which stands for Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Mobility, Big Data, Robotics, Internet of Things, Cybersecurity.” )


More News:

For a few years now, Boeing and Airbus like to duke it out over “rulings” and “subsidies”, as well as, some recent WTO announcements led to their two PR releases:

First from Airbus:
“ WTO condemns Boeing’s non-compliance and new subsidies
• WTO: U.S. failed to comply with rulings on massive illegal subsidies provided to Boeing
• Today’s WTO compliance panel report finds Boeing subsidies causing Airbus to lose hundreds of aircraft sales with an estimated value of US$ 15-20 billion
• Illegal subsidies to Boeing have, over time, resulted in over US$100 billion in total lost sales for Airbus
• Harm to Airbus will only increase if dispute is pushed out further, in case of likely U.S. appeal”

Next, from Boeing:
“Today, the EU and Airbus suffered yet another resounding defeat in this decade-long dispute. It is finally time for them to comply with their global trade obligations and eliminate and remedy the $22 billion of launch aid and other illegal subsidies that are harming U.S. aerospace companies and American workers,” said Boeing General Counsel J. Michael Luttig.”

You be the judge.