Inmarsat’s FlightPlan Plots A Post-COVID Course For Aviation

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Updated: 05/12/20 – Share your predictions on the future of the aviation industry

At FlightPlan, hosted in partnership with APEX earlier this month, Inmarsat Aviation launched an interactive poll to gather views and predictions from across the industry on possible paths to recovery from COVID-19. Hundreds of responses have already been shared, but it’s not too late to have your say. To share your thoughts on where the future of aviation is headed, visit the live survey here.

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Inmarsat Aviation, a leading provider of inflight connectivity satellite communications, has teamed up with the Association of Airline Passenger Experience (APEX) to provide an answer to the lack of industry events this year. With no expos, no airshows, and no conferences, FlightPlan looks set to be a much-needed forum for dialogue and information sharing.

FlightPlan Inmarsat APEX
FlightPlan from Inmarsat and APEX will bring together the industry in a one-day remote event. Photo: Inmarsat

Simple Flying caught up with Dominic Walters, Vice President at Inmarsat Aviation, to find out more about the event and what the partners are hoping to achieve.

How FlightPlan will chart a course for the future

Normally, stakeholders in the aviation industry would meet several times a year at a range of seminars, conferences, exhibitions and other events. Now, with most of the world in lockdown and travel widely discouraged, everyone’s staring at a blank calendar for the rest of the year.

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But, with all the challenges aviation is facing right now, we need to make time to have those conversations. Information needs to be shared, inspiration gathered, so that the industry can come back from this crisis in a robust and forward-looking position. FlightPlan from Inmarsat and APEX promises to do just that, bringing together key voices in the industry for a day of free insight and expertise.

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We asked Dominic Walters, Vice President at Inmarsat Aviation, what the event is all about, and why people should make time to attend. He told us,

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“FlightPlan: Charting a course into the future is a one-day online broadcast event, hosted by Inmarsat Aviation in collaboration with APEX. While we’re used to connecting people in the skies, given the scale of this crisis, we developed FlightPlan to bring the industry’s greatest thinkers together in a safe yet collaborative way from their homes.

“The event will bring together aviation experts, analysts and leaders to discuss and share information on the immediate challenge of the COVID-19 crisis, with learnings from previous pandemics such as SARs and MERs. At the same time, it’s important to continue driving debate on wider industry issues, from next-generation passenger trends and the future of air travel technology to short and long-term solutions for tackling aviation sustainability. These topics will make up a substantial part of our agenda for the day.

Dominic Walters
Vice President at Inmarsat Aviation, Dominic Walters, told us about the event. Photo: Inmarsat

“And I must say, it’s been fantastic to see industry leaders rally around this event with such enthusiasm. We will have contributions from airline executives such as the CEOs of Avianca and Delta Air Lines, in addition to trade bodies such as IATA, the European Space Agency and ATAG, and aviation ecosystem partners ranging from Airbus and Rolls Royce to Collins Aerospace, Deutsche Telekom, Honeywell and Panasonic Avionics.

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“We’ve had an amazing response – almost everyone we invited to speak at the event said yes immediately. You couldn’t ask for a better line-up of aviation thought leaders from all over the world. Although everyone is extremely busy, they understand the importance of sharing information and supporting each other right now.”

Tackling the grounding

FlightPlan is shaping up to be an exciting event, and Inmarsat believes there has never been a better time to do this. While airlines around the world are figuring out how to store grounded planes, these industry experts are facing a grounding of their own, locked down and told to stay home. Walters explained,

“The general consensus, even amongst those who have worked in aviation for decades, is that we have never faced a bigger crisis. There has therefore never been a more important time for the industry to come together – and yet, ironically, this is the only year that we won’t be meeting at events like World ATM and AIX. We believe there is a lot to learn from sharing experiences and expertise. We just needed the platform to do so.

“We hope that FlightPlan will provide participants with some insightful learnings – but more than anything – we hope it will offer much-needed relief and confidence that the aviation industry will come out of this, as it has done in other times of crisis.”

Air France grounded planes
Tough times right now, but the industry will be back. Photo: Getty Images

Of course, other organizations are attempting to bring the industry together remotely; the proliferation of webinars has been insane. We asked Dominic what made FlightPlan different. He told us,

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“This event is unique, firstly in the way it has been developed. The day has been divided into short segments, most of which have been filmed completely remotely from the homes of contributors, but we’ve also included a number of live discussions and interactive Q&As in the agenda, so viewers can easily interact with us and other participants on the day. As far as we’re aware, nobody else in the industry has attempted something on this scale yet – think less “webinar,” more “all-day broadcast event.”

“The list of contributors sets FlightPlan apart. Participants will hear from a wide range of industry stakeholders, including airlines, trade bodies, analysts and journalists, as well as thought leaders outside of the industry such as behavioural science expert Rory Sutherland.”

Want to attend FlightPlan?

FlightPlan will be held on April 29th from 9 AM to 4 PM British Summer Time (10 AM -5 PM UTC). Full information and registration is at https://flightplan.wavecast.io/.

Inmarsat and APEX have been keen to stress the inclusivity of the FlightPlan event. Although the agenda is a full day, attendees are invited to drop in and out for the sessions they find most interesting. There’s also no prerequisite to be employed in aviation. Dominic told us that the response has been great.

“FlightPlan is open to anyone who works in the aviation industry or who has an interest in aviation. We’re expecting an impressive turnout. Registrations are now open and already in the high hundreds, with attendee numbers continuing to grow every day.”

It’s a new and very exciting means of facilitating the collaboration this industry is going to need to pull itself out of the current crisis. While at the moment it’s being planned as a one-off, the organizers haven’t entirely ruled out the possibility of something similar in the future. Dominic said,

“As you can imagine, organising an all-day broadcast virtually has presented challenges, but thanks to the help of our contributors and our production team, we are confident we will deliver a brilliant day for all involved. It’s just two months since we first had the idea and now we’re about to go live with a high-quality six to seven-hour online broadcast for the global aviation industry! When you’re in a crisis situation, you have to get things done fast.

“Whether we’ll host another event like this again? We’ll have to see the outcome of this one first!”

Will you be registering for FlightPlan? Are you encouraged by the dedication of Inmarsat and its partners? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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