The 5th British-Irish Airports EXPO took place at ExCeL London on 22-23 June 2022, featuring almost 90 exhibitors and five conferences.
Aviation Minister Robert Courts MP visited the EXPO, touring the exhibition for an hour and visiting most of the near-90 exhibitors before appearing on stage to address the entire EXPO alongside senior stakeholders of the Regional And Business Airports Group (42 UK and Dependency regional airports), Heathrow, and the British Aviation Group.
The event was co-hosted by Heathrow, Manchester Airports Group and Gatwick Airport, and supported by Strategic Partners the British Aviation Group, Regional And Business Airports Group (RABA), and the World Birdstrike Association. Special thanks also to our sponsors:
Platinum sponsor: Simplytrak AIM
Gold sponsors: OCS and Terberg Special Vehicles
Official security provider: Wilson James
An outstanding exhibition of 90 suppliers and service providers
The 5th British-Irish Airports EXPO featured almost 90 exhibitors, from major household names to vitally-important SMEs, all showcasing the latest innovations, solutions and concepts for across the airport campus, including a major vehicle display area.
Innovate to Accelerate Recovery Conference, sponsored by Department for Transport’s Future Aviation Security Solutions and Connected Places Catapult
Professor Sarah Sharples, Chief Scientific Adviser, Department for Transport, gave a keynote address in the ‘Innovate to Accelerate Recovery’ Conference, which was sponsored by the Department for Transport’s Future Aviation Security Solutions and Connected Places Catapult.
Professor Sharples explained that good innovation involves “science and engineering expertise, reflection and listening, inspiration from the real world, commercialisation, and persistence”.
Commenting on Net Zero 2050, Professor Sharples said: “UK aviation is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, through an international approach, working with governments around the world and through the UN. New interim targets to cut net emissions give us the focus to ensure we remain on track. Early investment and collaboration now will ensure a net zero outcome that also maximises opportunities for individuals, families and business to fly, to level up our regions, and connect Britain to the world.”
The keynote session, exploring why innovation and collaboration are the only way to recovery, also featured Rachel Gardner-Poole, Chief Operating Officer, Connected Places Catapult; Jason Fowler, Chair, British Aviation Group and aviation sector Partner, Gardiner & Theobald; and Andrew Chadwick, Aviation Technology Innovation Lead, Connected Places Catapult.
Matt Gilkeson, Director, Transportation Security Administration’s Innovation Task Force 101. Speaking at the Innovate to Accelerate Recovery Conference, Gilkeson gave an “international perspective” in which he explained his task force’s role is to “collaborate with industry, airlines, airports and equipment manufacturers to find and deploy the very best technology for increasing security and improving the passenger experience” – in this regard he praised the Future Aviation Security Solutions, or FASS programme.
FASS is designed to encourage, fund, and support the development of innovative solutions to deliver a step change in aviation security, which over the past six years has funded 146 projects and four of these successful suppliers were able to pitch their solutions directly to the security leads from the UK and regional airports – and the TSA.
3rd British-Irish Accessible Airport Conference, supported by the UK Civil Aviation Authority
The Rt Hon. the Lord David Blunkett, Chair of both the Heathrow Recovery Forum and the easyJet Special Assistance Advisory Group, delivered a keynote address in the 3rd British-Irish Accessible Airport Conference, supported by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.
Lord Blunkett gave three pieces of advice to airports struggling with service provision at this time:
- Take criticism as a positive and learn from it.
- Realise that helping your customers will be taken as a plus, even if you have to take ad-hoc, non-corporate measures.
- Employ people with disabilities to fill your vacancies – “clearly a person using a wheelchair cannot be a baggage handler, but obviously it’s pure common sense that there are roles for everybody with physical and hidden disabilities.”
The opening session of the 3rd British-Irish Accessible Airport Conference focused on ‘Rebuilding airport accessibility’ and featured Ann Frye, Government disability and access ambassador and Chair, Independent Gatwick Accessibility Group; Gareth Daniel, Operations Manager – Aviation, OCS Group Ireland; Elizabeth Hegarty, Managing Director, Aviation and Transport Services, Wilson James; and Joshua Wintersgill, Director, ableMove UK.
Ann Frye delivered an opening presentation on ‘Consulting disabled passengers – are airports getting it right?’ Commenting on CAP 1228, in which the CAA sets out how airports should establish Accessibility Forums, Frye gave four recommendations:
• “CAA should require that airports appoint an independent chair.”
• “Terms of reference should be agreed between the airport and the chair and approved by the CAA – perhaps against a template.”
• “CAA guidance should explain in more detail why engaging with disabled people is not just nice to do – it is a legal requirement and the basis of sound decision-making.”
• “Both chairs and members should be paid – and the CAA should set an example by paying its own disability advisers.
Gareth Daniel outlined some of the innovations and solutions being implemented by OCS. “OCS is adopting a new form of technology which accepts bookings directly into our network. This is done through a fully accessible mobile application called PRM Assist. The benefit is we are now receiving bookings from passengers months in advance, with more detailed descriptions of their needs. Passengers are now able to engage with our airport partners more easily and receive information on the type of environment they will encounter on the day of travel. Communication is key!”
Regional And Business Airports Group (RABA): Advanced Air Mobility Airports Conference
Darrell Swanson, Director, Swanson Aviation Consultancy and Board Member, British Aviation Group, was Conference Chair for the Regional And Business Airports Group (RABA Group) Advanced Air Mobility Airports Conference.
Darrell Swanson and Jarek Zych, Co-Founders and Partners, EAMaven, delivered a fantastic presentation on where Regional Air Mobility could begin in the UK, with a focus on the RABA airports. Darrell Swanson also revealed the draft ‘Advanced Air Mobility Infrastructure Reference Manual’.
The Regional And Business Airports Group (RABA Group) Advanced Air Mobility Airports Conference featured a fascinating session on ‘The new airport operators and new infrastructure needs’.
Chaired by Darrell Swanson, Director, Swanson Aviation Consultancy and Board Member, British Aviation Group, the session featured Brad Miller, Managing Director, UK & EMEA, Ferrovial Vertiports; Duncan Walker, CEO Skyports; and Nick Boud, Principal Consultant, Think Research.
Brad Miller said: “Urban Air Mobility (UAM) presents the opportunity of a new type of transport mode, providing connectivity not yet experienced. Four key elements must be present to unlock this new way of connecting with each other: consumer demand (desirability and acceptability), eVTOL availability, airspace capacity, and sustainable ground infrastructure.”
Commenting on regulatory challenges, Duncan Walker said: “Regulations and standards for vertiport design and operations, and associated facilities like charging infrastructure, need to be in place as soon as possible to enable the infrastructure to be delivered and, in turn, enable commercial passenger air taxi operations.”
Nick Boud spoke about UAM and The ICAO Balanced Approach to Noise Management. He explained that noise certification standards for UAM vehicles are needed, alongside acoustic modelling tools, designation of responsibility for noise regulation of vertiport and UAM noise, and a unified noise monitoring and complaint system.
World Birdstrike Association Europe Conference
The WorldBirdstrike Association held its first-ever Europe-designated conference at the British-Irish Airports EXPO.
The well-attended conference was a true multi-disciplinary international collaboration of all stakeholders for the reduction of the birdstrike and wildlife risk to aviation. It featured a series of fantastic presentations, with a high level of audience interaction.
The speakers included:
- Gary Cooke, President, World Birdstrike Association
- Lalita Vaswani, Vice-President, World Birdstrike Association
- Martin Georgiev, Chief Ecologist, Volacom
- Dionysios Ntampakis, Wildlife Hazard Manager, Fraport Greece
- Marta Giordano, Ornithologist, French Civil Aviation (DGAC)
- Ronald Tukker, Business Development Manager, Advanced Protection Systems
- Albert de Hoon, Senior WHM Ecologist, The Netherlands
- Ferran Navàs, Project Manager Wildlife and Airports, Minuartia
- Lucy Budd, Professor of Air Transport Management, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK
- Dawid Gradolewski, CTO Bioseco
- Amy Anderson, National Wildlife Biologist, Federal Aviation Administration
- Peter Jarman, WHM NATO Airports, Kabul, Afghanistan
- Michal Skakuj PhD, World Birdstrike Association
British Aviation Group Sessions
British Aviation Group, once again, staged a series of panel sessions at the EXPO, focused on Sustainability Capability, International Opportunities, Procurement, and Next Generation Group/Skills Development.
The “top table” of airport buyers and suppliers in the British Aviation Group Strategic Partners Procurement Panel included Tim Walder, Deputy Chair, British Aviation Group and Partner, Arcadis; Paula Pontes, Deputy Chair, BAG Next Gen Group and Senior Airport Planner, Mott MacDonald; Paul Willis, Chief Development Officer, Manchester Airports Group; Paul Doherty, Procurement Director, Heathrow; and Cédric Laurier, Chief Technical Officer, Gatwick Airport.
The British Aviation Group Next Gen Panel Session at the 5th British-Irish Airports EXPO focused on ‘How technology can support shifting passenger experiences, drive operational improvement, and give rise to commercial opportunities – a Next Generation perspective’.
The fascinating discussion featured:
- Paula Pontes, Deputy Chair, BAG Next Gen Group and Senior Airport Planner, Mott MacDonald
- Sarah Zhang, Principal Technical Lead, Costain
- Jennifer Wong, Senior Architect, Pascall+Watson
Sustainable Aviation Fuels: The major airline, the hub airport, and the specialist
Alastair Blanshard, Sustainable Aviation Lead, ICF; Jonathon Counsell, Group Head of Sustainability, International Airlines Group; and Matt Prescott, Head of Carbon Strategy (Net Zero), Heathrow, participated in a panel on Sustainable Aviation Fuels at the British-Irish Airports EXPO.
Highlighting the full value stack, Alastair Blanshard explained that SAF provides a range of stakeholder and operational benefits, as well as value to airlines. “The regulatory landscape is complex, but in some areas can allow SAF to be purchased with an affordable premium.”
Speaking from a Sustainable Aviation perspective, Jonathon Counsell said there are around five billion litres of SAF production under construction. “The aviation energy transition creates a huge number of opportunities, including building of 5,000 plants, investment of $1-1.45 trillion, and creation of up to 14 million jobs.”
Matt Prescott explained that Heathrow’s goal is to cut carbon by up to 15% in the air by 2030. One of the ways in which this will be achieved is by a “switch to low carbon SAF pumped into today’s planes, contributing up to 7% of the 2030 goal, accelerated by our SAF landing charges incentive.”
‘A new Low Noise Arrivals Metric’
Katie Baker, Senior Consultant, Egis, delivered a special presentation on ‘A new Low Noise Arrivals Metric’.
The team behind the new metric includes Egis, Gatwick Airport, UK Civil Aviation Authority, NATS, and Sustainable Aviation.
Baker explained that the national cross-industry project in the UK to develop a new Low Noise Arrivals Metric is designed to complement the current Continuous Descent Operations (CDO) definition and further incentivise quieter arrivals.
Commenting on the next steps, Baker said:
- “Sustainable Aviation has established a sub-group to consider the necessary steps for deployment and operational use.”
- “Monitoring in accordance with the new metric will begin later this year.”
- “It is anticipated that the metric will be adopted on a national and European scale.”
At the end of a busy first day, the Networking Reception took place in the vehicle display area on the EXPO floor. It was the perfect opportunity for attendees to network and unwind with industry peers.