Aviation and aerospace industry experts, academia and critical role players from various government departments and state-owned entities, multinational companies and global research institutions, met for a day of in-depth discussions on innovation, research and development, during the 2nd Annual ATNS AVI AFRIQUE Aviation Innovation Summit, held at the Innovation Hub in Pretoria, South Africa, on 31 October 2013.
Guest Speakers and Panelists discussions and debates focused on the qualitative analysis of various environmental factors such as, but not limited to technological, legislative, political and socio-economic, affecting the African continent’s aviation industry.
Innovation challenges, characteristics and gaps in the aerospace and aviation also came under scrutiny.
ATNS Chief Executive Officer, Thabani Mthiyane observed that ATNS’ efforts has led to the congregation of impressive thinkers under one roof, who have made it their priority to innovate for the benefit of the aerospace and aviation industries. “We are proud of the work that has gone into spearheading the participation of some of world’s greatest minds in a collaborative approach towards establishing solutions for the industry” said Thabani.
Professor Sunil Maharaj, the University of Pretoria’s Broad Wireless Multimedia (BWM) Chairman, shared some useful statistics with the Summit’s delegates, which revealed that South Africa is only producing twentyeight Research and Development Doctors of Philosophy (PhDs) per one million of the South African population. According to the National Development Plan’s 2030 targets, the country needs a hundred (100) PhD graduates per million people – to achieve the required R&D in the country.
“International research has shown that there is a strong correlation between knowledge based economies and the country’s GDP. As such, we need PhD graduates to produce ideas and research that can take us to a knowledge-based economy, in order to achieve higher levels of GDP and global competiveness,” remarked Maharaj.
For its part, ATNS has partnered with the University of Pretoria with the aim to develop skills to innovate the industry.
Mapping the way forward, it is clear that collaboration and co-operation between the aviation industry, research institutions and organs of government is a priority in order to advance the innovation of safer skies.
Tshepo Peege, the Department of Transport’s Acting Deputy Director General for Civil Aviation explained that “Collaboration with Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and ATNS enhances efficiencies and further ensures ICAO standards and recommended practices are adhered to. The SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) as the regulator will ensure that safety is maintained through adherence to ICAO standards and regulations.”
In his address, Tshepo also highlighted safety concerns accompanied with the increasing demand of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) in civil roles. Increasingly, other users of UAV’s include mining, border control and security for anti-rhino poaching.
One of the event’s highlights included a discussion on wind farm technology.
Michele Moruzzis, Senior expert for Thales Air Systems in France, mentioned that “The way forward is collaboration between wind farm developers and radar operators. Wind farms will also be contributors to the global energy mix. While both wind farms energy and aviation safeties are national priorities, they are also competing priorities. We therefore need to get the right social innovation for progress and co-operate with each other to find a solution.”
Other topics discussed were “collaboration between research institutions and industry” and “how an independent air transport research capability contributes to innovation: benefits to aviation and society.”
In her closing remarks Poppy Khoza, representing the SACAA, echoed these remarks, saying, “We all need one another if we are to improve our air safety. The Summit made it clear that as Aviators, we can find our own solutions.”
Notable speakers on the day included the Netherland’s National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR) representative, Louis Aartman; Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Meraka Institute’s Senior Researcher, Chris R Burger and Aarti Panday, Senior Investment Case Specialist at the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA).
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