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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    Brazilian, Chinese experts discuss aviation trends

    by Ben Iannotta, Aerospace America Editor-in-Chief, posted 17 June 2014, 2:10 p.m.

    Brazil-China_panel_17Jun14Brazil and China plan to grow their aerospace industries by supporting their industries and academia, and some of those plans were discussed during the session, “Perspectives from Brazil and China.” One panelist ventured a bold prediction about the possible use of unmanned aircraft in civil aviation.

    Brazil’s Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica, ITA, plans to double its size “to offer very good engineering for the launching and space industry in the country,” said Carlos Americo Pacheco, the school’s rector. “It’s a big challenge to do this and maintain the quality of the school,” he said, “But this is a very good challenge for us.”

    Pacheco also said that within weeks ITA will announce a new research and learning partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    As an example of research in China, Tiger Wang, president of China’s Aeronautical Radio and Electronics Research Institute in Shanghai, gave a detailed presentation describing a layered software structure for the avionics aboard aircraft.

    Luis Carlos Affonso, chief operating officer of Brazil-based Embraer Commercial Aviation, discussed the state of the aviation industry in Latin America. He said Latin America has a generally positive economic environment, but that civil aviation is marked by “very poor inter-regional connectivity,” with services primarily among big cities.

    He lauded the airline Azul, founded by JetBlue co-founder David Neeleman, for its innovative growth strategy. “He started to serve small and medium cities with the right size plane,” Affonso said.

    During the question and answer session, Affonso was asked about the future of unmanned, autonomous aircraft in civil aviation. His assessment of their prospects was upbeat.

    “I believe today there is a big resistance of the passengers to fly in an airplane without the pilot,” Affonso said. “But on the other hand, we are seeing airlines landing on carriers, right?” Eventually, he predicted, “ the statistics will demonstrate that [unmanned planes] are very safe – maybe even safer than a piloted vehicle. And then I believe we will start to change the public’s opinion, and this will open the way for more UASs and, following that, autonomous systems.” He said this is “still a few years away, or some years away.”

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