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Yannick Assouad (EVP Thales): How do airlines adapt in a changing world?

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Τhe next edition of the Annual Airline Conference "World Connect" organized by APG will take place in MALTA from 26th to 28th October 2022. The topic this year is: " How do airlines adapt in a changing world".

  • Can you introduce yourself and your company?

Yannick Assouad, EVP Thales in charge of Avionics. I have a twofold engineering background, French and American. I discovered my passion for aeronautics during my studies, a passion which even led me to become a pilot myself in my spare time. Throughout my career, I have managed worldwide entities within Thales, then Honeywell Aerospace, Zodiac and Latecoere, before returning to Thales two years ago. Apart from the engines, it seems I have been involved in all parts of the aircraft, from nose to tail! Thales’s avionics activities cover the avionics equipment, systems and associated services to pilot and control the aircraft, aircraft electrical power generation and conversion systems as well as motors, passenger in-flight multimedia systems, and simulation and training systems and services. The secure, natively connected systems that Thales designs allow aircraft, helicopters and drones to fly under all conditions and to interface with all parts of the aeronautical ecosystem, on the ground or in flight. Thales Avionics is part of Thales Group, a global leader in advanced technologies, investing in digital and “deep tech” innovations – connectivity, big data, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and quantum technologies – to build a trustful future that is crucial for the development of our societies. Thales has 81,000 employees in 68 countries. In 2021, the Group generated sales of 16.2 billion euros.

  • How do you see the development of the global airline industry in the years to come after it has suffered potentially the worst crisis in its history?

Once the pandemic is behind us, I am deeply convinced that air traffic growth will eventually return to pre-crisis levels. I my view, the future does not lie in flying less, but in flying better, more efficiently and more eco-responsibly, as quickly as possible. We have a fantastic challenge ahead of us: to imagine the new era of aviation. The aim is to achieve a massive reduction in CO2 and non-CO2 emissions and as to create a new age of passenger flight. More digital and secure, more environmentally friendly, more connected and optimized aircraft: today's innovations will form the basis for a sustainable aerospace future. We have not seen so many technical upheavals since the advent of the Jet era!

  • The theme this year is: "How do airlines adapt in a changing world" What is your point of view on this subject?

New challenges are always on the horizon, which is what makes our industry so fascinating. As for airlines, the pandemic has created new expectations and accelerated the drivers of change that will have major impacts on the flights themselves, but also on the passenger experience with more customer services and personal interactions. In the cockpit, the technology breakthroughs in data, analytics and AI will ease the pilots’ missions, towards more autonomy. The planes themselves will shift to alternative fuels and energy sources. With the environmental objective of reducing the CO2 and non-CO2 footprint of flights, airlines will increasingly collaborate with ATC to co-design flight and space plans that will allow both passengers to reduce their footprint and ATC to reduce its overall space footprint. Besides, the airlines’ current business models may also be disrupted by the emergence of new technologies that will facilitate point-to-point travels, such as air taxis. Tomorrow's aviation will be significantly different from the one we have known for the last 40 years. A real revolution is underway, and airlines are at the forefront of these changes!

  • What do you believe is/are the main reason(s) that draw people to the event?

What comes to mind first is sharing with industry peers, expanding our knowledge, learning beyond fields, and discovering new trends. However, attending World Connect Conference goes even a step further: it is about putting ourselves outside our comfort zone by challenging ourselves on what we foresee as disruptive trends in the industry with the world’s leading experts. This is the essence and the strength of World Connect.

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