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The commercial aviation industry is on the cusp of unprecedented change spurred by growth in Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). Predictions of a CAGR of 35.2% will take AAM market size to upwards of $68 Billion by 2032. Cutting-edge air vehicles and innovative propulsion systems, such as all-electric engines, are already rapidly gaining ground, and promising to reshape the landscape of passenger travel and cargo transportation.

Add to this an emerging wave of pioneering startups that will introduce green field concepts, and it’s clear that next-generation aviation technology will push the boundaries of what’s possible even further.

While traditional jet engines still dominate the established commercial domestic travel market, electrification is a prevailing development, evident in proof-of-concept projects and trials for regional travel distances. Unmanned and crewed aircraft with novel propulsion methods, such as multi-copters, vectored thrust, lift + cruise, and hybrid systems, are on the horizon. Technology tools and enterprise software platforms must keep up to meet the business needs of these Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) companies as they take to the skies of the future.

AAM startups require sophisticated enterprise software to manage their aircraft and the vast amounts of data they generate. Flexible manufacturing systems are crucial to transition to large-scale production. Modern back-office systems are also vital for ensuring best practices to accelerate the growth and transformation of these AAM vendors into major aircraft manufacturers of the future as the AAM movement continues its upward trajectory.

Navigating challenges in scaling up AAV manufacturing

While the AAM industry remains in startup mode for now, there’s potential for substantial progress in aviation authority certification and infrastructure development. Projections from the Advanced Air Mobility Index suggest that between 2023 and 2025, 32% of the top AAM startups are poised to move from prototype and testing to entry into service (EIS), marking a promising future for AAM operations.

As these new entrants in the Advanced Air Vehicle (AAV) domain embark on this journey, they must prepare for a steep learning curve.

Startups and smaller manufacturers venturing into the prototyping and production of AAVs face a multitude of challenges from the initial design and construction of proof-of-concept AAVs to the eventual large-scale production required for global commercial markets. The transition will not only demand innovation but also test their Manufacturing Readiness Levels (MRLs) as they navigate the rapidly evolving market dynamics.

MRO challenges take on a long running role

The challenges faced by AAV startups don’t finish at the completion of their new AAV designs, testing, and production process. In fact, they have only just started.

Unlike traditional aircraft manufacturers, which primarily sell their products to operators, many AAV manufacturers also take on the role of operating the aircraft they produce. This means they must also effectively oversee the ongoing airworthiness of their aircraft and the evolving maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) requirements for their AAVs, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles once they are in active service.

In various cases, AAV companies are looking to offer MRO services through provision of parts, repairs, and supplies, even if they are not directly involved in operating the vehicles themselves.  Some may even be involved in deploying infrastructure such as charging facilities and vertiports, meaning they require a software system to allow them to manage these services in the most streamlined, cost-effective way possible.

These are substantial and critical MRO responsibilities and demand the highest level of software infrastructure support. The implementation of a sophisticated, industry-specific, adaptable, and user-friendly enterprise software system tailored for the aviation sector is essential. Such a software system is particularly crucial for AAV startups, which may lack extensive organizational experience in this field and require a robust and proven aviation maintenance solution to rely on.

It’s complicated! Enterprise Software Solutions must be tailored for AAV operational success

In the complex AAM industry, conventional enterprise software systems designed for general business applications lack the specialized features necessary for the continuous development, manufacturing, and servicing of AAVs and other cutting-edge aircraft. Within this unique market, it is imperative to confront the intricate technological challenges in the AAM landscape through the implementation of aviation-centric enterprise software explicitly engineered to address these challenges.

The essential requirement is for software systems to be able to effectively ingest the vast volume of data generated by these aircraft, spanning from the design and construction phases to the rigorous flight testing. These systems must also support ongoing design improvements based on the telemetry and performance data continually generated.

The ideal enterprise software system must be able to seamlessly handle the complex developmental and operational processes not just of today but also be able to cope with future AAV designs, exhibiting the flexibility to accommodate manufacturing, ongoing maintenance, and support functions that can be integrated as the requirements of manufacturers and their vehicles evolve.

It’s also very different – that’s why IFS is the Ideal Software Partner for AAV Startups and AAM Enterprises

AVV startups differ from traditional aviation companies in that they lack well-established, technology-intensive infrastructures tailored to their specific needs. In light of this, one of the most valuable assets for them is a single integrated aviation-centric software that provides AAV startups with solutions for all different business offerings as they grow from prototyping to commercialization and operations. Not only will this streamline costs, but also minimize time spent on selecting new software for each task, and numerous lengthy implementation processes—not forgetting the risk of not being able to consolidate insights across multiple systems!

For AAV startups that may lack a deep history of experience in the multifaceted and specialized aviation sector, partnering with a seasoned, technology-driven partner can prove invaluable in overcoming technological business challenges.

IFS solutions are tailored for the Aerospace and Defense sector. It’s the reason for our long history of success working with Aerospace and Defense manufacturers, MRO providers, defense forces and other airline operators. We recognize the new and pressing demands of AAV manufacturing, and are perfectly positioned to cater for these developing needs with our enterprise software systems, and that’s why IFS is ideal software choice for any AAV startup looking to make its growth plans a reality.

Read more on how IFS is strategically placed to support the growth of Advanced Air Mobility in this report from The Futurum Group: Using Technology to Stay Ahead of Advanced Air Mobility Developments

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