5 questions to Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo S.p.a. and President of the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD).

Portraits - Pioneers of the aerospace industry and political decision-makers provide personal insights and their assessment of current industry trends.

1    What are you most looking forward for the next ILA Berlin Airshow?

After four years, we are all delighted to come back to ILA Berlin. This exhibition will be the right stage to meet, again in person, with the most important actors playing a crucial role in supporting European strategies of sustainable growth and sovereignty in Aerospace and Defence Industry within this challenging geopolitical scenario.

2    What are the biggest changes or challenges for the aerospace industry today?

I believe that the biggest challenge for the aerospace industry nowadays is enabling and accelerating the digital and green transitions. Companies such as Leonardo can provide key technologies to support the twin transitions:  we are modernising our production processes to become more digital and greener and developing new solutions to help the society as a whole, for instance by supporting precision agriculture. Fostering decarbonisation and reaching net-zero CO2 emissions in aviation – thanks to breakthrough technologies such as (hybrid) electric aircraft & rotorcraft as well as hydrogen aircraft - is an important goal. Equally important is tapping the full potential of dual-use technologies – think of Earth Observation or unmanned systems – which will have a growing relevance in our daily lives. Whichever way you look at it, Aerospace is at the forefront of human development.

3    How does Leonardo contribute to sustainability / innovation / new technologies in a concrete way?

When talking about Leonardo, specifically, it is important to highlight a key concept: we provide governments and institutions with the technologies needed to guarantee essential security for their people and nations; this means preserving peace and stability, safety and democracy, without which social and economic prosperity does not exist. To fulfil its purpose, Leonardo is accelerating innovation and developing new skills - from our network of corporate research laboratories, the Leonardo Labs, to the new Academy for Cyber Security; technology is the driving force of our approach to sustainability, with projects aimed at testing the use of new materials with low environmental impact and develop new solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of our product and services. For instance, since 2019, we avoided about 117,200 tons of CO2 thanks to the use of virtual training systems.

4    Please elaborate on the best decision you made in your professional career? What advice would you give the younger generation about choosing a career in aerospace?

The best decision I made, back in 2017, was accepting to lead Leonardo, when the company was searching for a new long-term strategic vision to spearhead the evolution of the aerospace industry. At the time, I came from an entirely different professional background but, exactly because of that, I was eager to learn and open to the trends that were already reshaping our industry: digital transformation and the new challenges of sustainability. My advice to the younger generation would thus be: build your technical expertise, but keep an open mind, because the future of Aerospace will depend on the cross-contamination of different skills and ideas.

5    If you could meet one famous aerospace personality – living or from history: Who would it be and why?

The history of flight is a succession of pioneering breakthroughs but the role of women in it is often a neglected one; bearing this in mind, the extraordinary character I would like to meet – and I hope to do that soon - is Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Marwan Al Maktoum, the world first woman to pilot, last May, Leonardo’s AW609 tiltrotor, an innovative solution which is set to shape future air mobility. By setting new and important milestones in civil aviation, she represents a role model and an inspiration for those women wanting to build a career path in aerospace and those young girls literally aiming for the sky.

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