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VFS Leads the Future of Air Mobility at Airtec
  • 06 Jan 2024 06:40 AM
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VFS Leads the Future of Air Mobility at Airtec

By Mike Hirschberg, VFS Director of Strategy
Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2024

Held in the high-tech city of Augsburg, Germany, Oct. 25– 27, 2023, Airtec is an annual European meeting place for suppliers and aircraft manufacturers to find each other and to establish new business relationships. More than 4,100 visitors from 31 countries were counted — including exhibitors, B2B meeting participants and conference attendees — more than double the number at Airtec 2022. Nearly 500 students attended Airtec 2023 during the three exhibition days, as workforce continues to be a very important topic in aerospace.

Airtec 2023 — led by Diana Schnabel and Volker Schulze — opened with welcomes by Augsburg Mayor Eva Weber, Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy Dr. Anna Christmann, and Bavarian State Minister Dr. Florian Herrmann, Head of the Bavarian State Chancellery. Other speakers from Airbus, Premium AEROTEC, Mabanaft GmbH, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) provided insights on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), hydrogen power for aviation, and other timely topics.

In 2022, VFS organized nearly 20 speakers (see “VFS Made an Impact at Airtec,” Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2023), and this time featured close to 30 executive speakers on advanced air mobility (AAM) approaches.

VFS Director of Strategy Mike Hirschberg organized six sessions over the three days in the “Future Air Mobility” track. In addition to Hirschberg, sessions were chaired by Prof. Florian Holzapfel, Chair of the Technical University Munich (TUM) Institute of Flight System Dynamics; Prof. Ilkay Yavrucuk, Chair of the TUM Institute of Rotorcraft and Vertical Flight; and Pamir Sevincel, Managing Partner of Blackbird Associates.

Airtec Session 1 Speakers

EHang EH216 at Airtec

Hirschberg at the Goldener Saal

The first session focused on electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, featuring executives from Airbus Urban Mobility, AutoFlight Europe, Dufour Aerospace, EHang, Lilium and Odys Aviation. The first day concluded with a session on AAM Perspectives, with insights from leaders at Orbit Management Services, Flying Pages, Lilium and Blackbird Associates.

The third session focused on AAM Technical Research, with overviews of ongoing research activities by Professors Yavrucuk and Holzapfel of TUM, as well as by Henri Meess, Group Leader for Highly Automated Flying at Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, and Federico Lo Cicero, Simulation Engineer at Dipolo GmbH. The day concluded with a session on Regional Air Mobility, with talks by executives from Hydroplane, MT Aerospace, Odonata and Piasecki Aircraft; each explained how hydrogen was a key enabler for AAM.

The third day focused on suppliers, infrastructure and the overall AAM ecosystem. Richard Charlton, CEO and co-founder of Electro.aero talked about developments in mobile aircraft chargers and connector standards (see “Electro.Aero Seeks to Power Electric Aviation,” Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2024). Derek Jordanou-Bailey, Chief Engineer–Aerospace of Helix; Lawrence Blakeley, COO of H55; and Olaf Otto, President of Rolls-Royce Electrical; each talked about the challenges of electric motors and high-voltage systems.

Dan Sloat, CEO of Volatus Infrastructure & Energy Solutions (VIES), talked about the company’s successes and future plans for implementing AAM infrastructure in the US and around the world. Dr. Stefan Perras, Head of Pre-Development and Innovation for eMobility Charging at Siemens; Oliver Grunewald, Senior Design Consultant at UAM Vertiports; Günter Nelböck, VP Engines & Nacelles for FACC Operations; and Martin Miehling, Business Manager European AAM at Honeywell Aerospace; each gave important perspectives on the building blocks for AAM.

Nearly 150 exhibitors from 11 nations — Australia, Austria, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and the US — displayed their innovative technologies and capabilities. In addition to an actual EHang 216 eVTOL aircraft, large models of eVTOL aircraft were on display from AutoFlight, Fraunhofer, Odonato and other innovative organizations.

VFS, with the support of TUM, also organized an exhibit booth, showcasing the two institutes at TUM and their research activities, as well as the benefits and opportunities of joining VFS and taking advantage of the Society’s resources.

The program also included a reception in the Goldener Saale (“Golden Hall”) of the Augsburg Town Hall, famous for its golden ceiling and wall decorations; it was finished in 1643 and is an important cultural monument of the late Renaissance. The deputy mayor of Augsburg and others gave talks on the history and future of the city and its prominence in aerospace.

This coming year’s Airtec will be held again at the Messe Augsburg exhibit hall, Oct. 8–10, 2024. Go to www.vtol.org/airtec to learn more, and to see photos from past Airtec events.

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