Bite-size Case Study

Collaboration and innovation: the E-Fan X

Published on February 28, 2022 Originally recorded 2022   3 min
Please wait while the transcript is being prepared...
The term collaborator is frequently used, and every time we refer to it, we imply we know what it means. With a term that has been used for centuries, there always seems to be a number of assumptions made, but we do need to go back and question them, in order to better understand how to get the most out of this powerful asset. The business press will frequently refer to collaboration. But within this talk, we do need to think about the nature, the form, and the ways in which we collaborate, in order to ensure that we are making the most of it. Some collaborations are highly successful, whilst others are not so much. Why do we collaborate?
What is that propelling moment that makes you want to collaborate? Where does that intent come from? If we use the Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens collaboration that began in 2017, where they started to talk about a hybrid plane called the E-Fan X. We saw there, that innovation and collaboration were closely codependent. Airbus was responsible for the overall integration and the control architecture, Rolls-Royce was responsible for the engine, and Siemens were responsible for the megawatt electric motors and the power distribution systems. Each of those collaborative partners had something to bring to the party. They were coming together because they each had their unique strengths, and alone they could never have pulled this off. Described as groundbreaking, the demonstrator was expected to fly in 2020, but it didn't. April 2020, saw the specific project decommissioned and a joint statement between the partners highlighted three major advancements that will enable future projects to succeed, but this wasn't the right project for them. Bringing partners together who each have their own unique area of expertise is clearly a huge advantage when developing innovative solutions. The CTO of Airbus said, "It's through cross-industry partnerships like these that the aviation industry will bring competitive zero-emissions solutions to the future of flight. Although E-Fan X will not take to the skies, I strongly believe that its spirit will live on as we continue on our journey towards climate-neutral flight. It's a journey that we're all on together, and only together we will succeed." Despite the fact that this didn't work as a project in its own right, the three major advancements, that will no doubt lead to future development, have been a major and compelling reason to celebrate this collaboration.