Industryweek 3918 Eads Bridget

EADS' CEO Calls for Innovation Collaboration

March 4, 2013
"We need to increase the speed of innovation, without compromising safety,” EADS CEO Tom Enders said.

EADS’ (IW 1000/59) CEO Tom Enders thinks the aerospace industry needs to stop playing catch up with IT. Or at least he wants to gain some ground on the fast-paced sector.

Product cycles in the aerospace industry can be up to 90 years, meaning technology used in aerospace often is not only outdated before its life cycle is complete but also often before it even goes into use.

Enders, in an opening speech Monday at CeBIT, a digital IT and telecommunications trade fair in Hannover, Germany, used Bridget, the Mars Rover on which EADS’ subsidiary Astrium is working with the European Space Agency, to illustrate.

Despite Bridget’s abilities to climb boulders and drill holes into Mars, her core processors were made in the 1990s, he said.

“When Bridget sets off for Mars in 2018, computer performance will have tripled in comparison to today,” Enders said. “By that point, her computer will be 30 years old.”

That’s because once an aircraft is certified by supervisory authorities, the level of technology in its software components is frozen. As much is done in the name of safety, as aircraft can have as many as three million parts that need to work together correctly to ensure safe passage of travelers.

“We need to increase the speed of innovation, without compromising safety,” Enders said.

He suggested cross-industry collaboration as the solution, with aerospace and IT professionals sitting around a table working to close the gap.

EADS, which operates in the aerospace and defense industries, is the parent company of Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter.

Click here to read the EADS press release. 

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