The FIA Connect event will run online from July 20 to 24 as Farnborough International organizers attempt to maintain at least a degree of the powerful connection the biennial airshow forges among thousands of companies across the aerospace, defense, and space industry. There will be no roar of flying display jets, but through an extensive program of webinars, participants will hear about how the industry is responding to the crisis that forced the cancellation of the 2020 air show back in March.
This will mark the first time outside influences—in this case Covid-19—have forced a major international airshow to completely reinvent itself as an online event. “We have sought to create something completely new and this is an opportunity for the industry to come out of its shell and talk about the future,” Farnborough International CEO Gareth Rogers told a July 13 press conference.
The cancellation of this year’s show posed a significant challenge to the viability of Farnborough International, which is a subsidiary of the UK industry association ADS. The company has had to move quickly to protect the long-term future of the 72-year-old air show and it insists that the event will return to its usual format in 2022.
Last week, organizers offered exhibitors a credit covering up to 60 percent of fees already paid for the 2020 show. This is to be used for their participation in the 2022 event. Rogers acknowledged that companies may have been hoping for direct refunds, but he explained that would not have been financially viable. “We had to achieve a balance between returning what [money] we can [to exhibitors] while ensuring the future of the air show. It’s been a tough process,” he commented.
As of July 13, before the full speaker lineup was announced, around 5,000 people had registered for FIA Connect, representing around 300 to 400 companies. Organizers said they expect between 20,000 and 30,000 people to participate in the online sessions during the course of the week.
In addition to the webinar program, FIA Connect will include an online version of its Meet the Buyer program to help companies engage with prospective clients across the supply chain. On July 24, it will hold the Farnborough Friday event, which gives young people the chance to learn more about career opportunities in the industry and the educational paths that support them.
The packed FIA Connect agenda consists of no fewer than 77 separate online sessions over the course of five days with 149 speakers and panelists. The environmental sustainability of aviation and the industry’s response to Covid recovery challenges serve as recurring themes through the program.
The webinars are free to attend but require pre-registration. Sessions are pre-recorded to allow flexibility in when viewers can tune in.
FIA Connect’s opening ceremony on July 20 will include top industry leaders. Confirmed speakers include Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury, BAE Systems CEO Charles Woodburn, Safran Seats CEO Victoria Foy, Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo, and Meggitt CEO and ADS President Tony Wood.
Also on July 20, there will be a session on aviation sustainability addressing policy changes need to ensure environmental improvements in the context of the impact of Covid-19. Speakers will include UK transport secretary Grant Shapps, Etihad Aviation Group CEO Tony Douglas, Air BP commercial development manager Tom Parsons, Boeing sustainability, strategy, and corporate development vice president Chris Raymond, and Rolls-Royce chief technology officer Paul Stein.
Other highlights include the following sessions:
- July 20: Commercial Aviation Relaunch & Recovery 2021 and Beyond—LeAnne Ridgeway (Collins Aerospace), David Stewart (Oliver Wyman), Mike Delaney (Boeing Commercial Airplanes), and Jack Goodwin (UK Department for Transport)
- July 20: Elevated Mobility: getting from demo to do—Dr. Will Roper (U.S. Air Force), Eric Allison (Uber), Ross Perot (The Perot Companies and Hillwood), Matt Metcalfe (Deloitte Consulting), and Dr. Michael Romanowski (FAA).
- July 21: Defence Resilience—Paul Everitt (ADS), Luc Bardin (Strategic Partnering), Kevin Craven (Serco UK and Europe).
- July 21: Future of the Aerospace Industry, Restart, Recovery and Resilience—Nadhim Zahawi (UK government business minister), Katie Roscoe (Airbus), Tom Williams (UK Aerospace Supply Chain Taskforce and Airbus), Mandy Ridyard (Produmax), and Giles Wilkes (Institute for Government).
- July 21: Team Tempest, Supply Chain Partnership for Future Air Combat Capability—Dave Holmes (BAE Systems), Matt Rea (Rolls-Royce), and Mark Miller (GKN Aerospace).
- July 21: Clean Flight, Path to Aero Emissions Aircraft—Sameer Savani (ADS), Dr. Simon Weeks (Aerospace Technology Institute), Riona Armesmith (Rolls-Royce), and Russ Dunn (GKN Aerospace).
- July 22: Future Combat Air Systems—Michael Christie (BAE Systems), Micael Johansson (Saab), Dr. Charles Woodburn (BAE Systems), and Peter Nilsson (Saab).
- July 22: Chief Technology Officer Summit 2020—Eric Ducharme (GE Aviation), Grazia Vittadini (Airbus), Stephane Cueille (Safran), Bruno Stoufflet (Dassault), Mark Russell (Raytheon), and Paul Stein (Rolls-Royce).
- July 23: Global Urban Air Summit 2.0—multiple sessions throughout the day, covering all aspects of new urban air mobility applications and new electric aircraft developments. It will include several eVTOL aircraft pioneers, as well as prospective air taxi service providers and regulators, addressing issues including autonomous flight.
- July 23: Women in Aviation & Aerospace—Martine Gagne (Meggitt), Jacqui Sutton (Rolls-Royce), Adefunke Adeyemi (IATA), Victoria Foy (Safran Seats), and Kelly Tolhurst (UK government aviation minister).
- July 24: Farnborough Friday—multiple sessions throughout the day focused on presenting opportunities and information for young people considering a career in the aerospace and defense industries.
AIN will be providing extensive coverage of the FIA Connect event as part of a special package of content focused on the current state of the aerospace, air transport, and defense sectors. You can follow the us at AINonline.com and also via our daily newsletters. Late on July 23, look out for our special Mid-Year Aerospace and Air Transport Report.