Innovation, Challenges Fluctuate as COVID-19 Uncertainty Continues

As the U.S., U.K., and nations throughout Europe saw the number of COVID-19 cases start to increase again in the third and fourth quarter of 2020, the commercial segment of the global air transportation industry effectively remains in a state of ongoing uncertainty in all areas under travel restrictions and cross-border transmission concerns. Airlines are hopeful that the late December rollout of vaccines could help restore some sense of normalcy by the second half of 2021, but timelines these days are always fluctuating.

Under these new working conditions, requiring masks as well as remote and virtual working where possible, different segments of aerospace have continued to deploy new advancements and achieve new wins. Days before this edition of Avionics published, for example, Delta Air Lines, whose financial challenges were highly publicized throughout 2020, opted to upgrade 300 of their in-service and on-order aircraft with high-speed in-flight Internet supplied by Viasat.

Our cover story for this issue focuses on a topic that we have not covered in-depth as a whole program, the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management modernization project, in several years. The start of 2021 is an ideal time to provide a fresh look at the SESAR Joint Undertaking's efforts to introduce new navigation and air traffic technologies at airports and among air-ways of Europe.

The organization is starting to transition the region's air traffic infrastructure to a digital services-driven "Virtual Centers" concept that SESAR believes could help address the region's decades-long problems with airspace sovereignty and system fragmentation. Some of the achievements and advancements of SESAR that might have gone unnoticed last year, because of COVID-19's impact on everything, are also highlighted.

Kelsey Reichmann provides an outlook on some trending topics for the embedded systems segment of avionics with a multi-executive question and answer session. Executives from AdaCore, Pentek, and CoreAVI discuss how COVID-19 impacted their operations and how they're adjusting to the ongoing pandemic in 2021.

Paul Leighton, Appraiser and Editor of Aircraft Value News, a sister publication to Avionics, analyzes changes in commercial aircraft values and where demand for new models is shifting in 2021 and beyond. Our regular contributor Frank Wolfe is back with some interviews providing perspectives from technicians at several avionics maintenance, repair, and overhaul facilities to understand how COVID-19 is impacting their day-to-day aircraft modifications and repairs work.

Have suggestions for topics we should be covering in upcoming digital editions of Avionics? Send me an email at wbellamy@accessintel.com.

Thanks for reading.

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