Inflight editor Alexander Preston summarises the latest happenings across IFEC and cabin technology.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last few days as a guest of Airbus in Toulouse, one of a select band of 130 journalists from around 40 countries, attending this year’s Innovation Days event.

Against the backdrop of Boeing’s ongoing woes with the 737 MAX (Airbus executives were keen to bat away any discussion of their rival’s predicament), the two-day gathering gave glimpses into the future as perceived by the airframer.

While the mantra was safety, 37,000 planes are expected to be built in the next 30 years, and Airbus is readying itself to meet this increase in capacity by being adaptable. This means onboard innovation in terms of new cabin concepts and connected cabins that are linefit and retrofit respectively.

All this rests on the digital backbone that is Skywise. Skywise is an enterprise data platform enabling digital collaboration across the aviation ecosystem by capturing information from all upstream processes, including design, engineering, manufacturing and maintenance support.

Spring Airlines (China’s largest low-cost carrier), Sri Lankan Airlines, Bangkok Airways and ANA are among more than 60 airlines signed up to the service.

Skywise also supports the Airbus Connected Experience and Airspace Cabin Visions 2030, which were shown in April at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg.

At the same time, some 650 km to the northeast, the business aviation community were decamping in Geneva for this year’s EBACE. The event was overshadowed by the passing of three-time Formula 1 champion and long-time Bombardier customer and pilot, Niki Lauda.

As an entrepreneur Lauda had formed two airlines, Lauda Air and Niki, which he subsequently sold.

At the end of March, Bombardier delivered its first European-based Global 7500 aircraft to Lauda, who has also operated a Global 6000, Global 5000 and Challenger 300 jet as his private aircraft.

“I have enjoyed watching the evolution and growth of the Global Aircraft programme. I have always been impressed with the expertise, craftsmanship and innovation that go into building every Global business jet,” he said accepting the aircraft.

At a joint press conference with F/LIST at EBACE, Bombardier said: “As an operator, owner and valued friend, Lauda embodied everything we strive for in the development of our products and services – an uncompromising commitment to excellence driven by immense passion and vision.

“We were infinitely proud and privileged to have Niki as a friend of the F/LIST and Bombardier families for so many years.”

RIP Niki Lauda.

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