Fox files: ‘The future of aerospace’

Aerospace today is pretty mind-blowing when you actually stop to think about it.

I was reminded of that recently by an article in the Wall Street Journal about the retirement of the 747. The 747’s quad-jets and size made international air travel accessible to the masses and connected people all over the world. When you saw a 747, it looked like a giant beluga whale, and yet it somehow quite literally defied gravity and hauled people to far-flung places. That plane rolled out nearly 40 years ago and is just retiring today. It’s a reminder to me that major advances in aerospace have a transformative effect on society and that great innovations stick. As amazing as aerospace is today, I’m also thinking about tomorrow. Because tomorrow… now that’s going to be really cool.

Sky-ports, autonomous all-electric airplanes, urban air mobility. There are some significant disruptions and innovations on the horizon that have me absolutely giddy about what’s next for the industry, for the passenger experience, for how we move goods and people, and for how that allows us to connect around the globe.

We had a great discussion this week with Jim Ockerman (Boeing), Janene Muller (Albany), and Jared Esselman (UDOT Aeronautics) on some of the coming changes to aerospace and how the state of Utah can prepare to capitalize on the massive next generation of disruptions and investment.

Unsurprisingly, as much as aerospace is a capital intensive and supply chain deep business, at its core, it’s still a people business. If there was one takeaway I had from our great conversation, it’s that Utah needs problem solvers, team workers, and lifelong learners in our community to be a part of the future of aerospace. We also need to be thinking about infrastructure: all-electric aircraft changes the infrastructure game entirely, as does autonomy and sky-ports. How will these machines communicate with each other? Massive investments in fiber and telecommunications will be required to support the communications network.

I feel like a broken record sometimes, but in order to future-proof the state, it all comes back to people and infrastructure. Thankfully, we’re investing in both and have good corporate partners communicating regularly about what they see in the not-too-distant future.