5 questions to Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market at the European Commission.

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

1    What are your personal expectations for #ILA22 – what are you most looking forward to?

ILA is a major gathering for the global aerospace community. It is the ideal platform for international stakeholders to exchange ideas, define future joint projects and discuss burning topics. I am looking forward to witnessing the buzz of an increasingly dynamic industry reinventing itself in light of future challenges, ranging from environmental and climate protection to smart mobility and space resilience and security.

2    What key trends do you currently see in the aerospace industry?

The aerospace ecosystem is undergoing massive transformations, which brings a lot of new challenges and opportunities. Greening, digitalisation, and resilience are the pillars of these transformations in Europe, and enable extensive market opportunities. The Russian military aggression in Ukraine has put a new pressure on Europe to address its dependencies. The EU strategic autonomy, especially in the aerospace ecosystem, will only be reached if we ensure the resilience of the aerospace value-chains, in terms of critical raw and advanced materials, key technologies as well as autonomous access to space.

3    What can policymakers do to advance towards the goal of climate neutrality in aerospace?

As policymakers, it is our role to help the aerospace industry seize the green transition, just like any other sector. Today, policymakers can build on industry initiatives and add value to them:

  • by federating them in a comprehensive strategy of change. 
  • by developing an appropriate methodology to assess the environmental impact of aerospace and support a regulatory framework promoting the implementation of sustainable practices for the aerospace value chains. 
  • by supporting research and innovation for climate neutral technologies, reusability and circular economy, but also by investing in skills to ensure that workforces are at the forefront of the transition.
  • by using Copernicus data and supporting land, marine and atmospheric monitoring services benefitting the green transition, including for environmental policy making and enforcement. 

4    If you could meet one famous aerospace personality – from today or from the past: Who would it be and why?

Jean Mermoz, who left his mark on the aviation world of the beginning of the 20th century by becoming a pioneer in this domain, and who was viewed as a hero by likeminded icons like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (best remembered for his novella “The Little Prince”). After starting his career in the French Air Force, where he built himself a reputation as one of the most successful pilots, Mermoz became an airmail pilot. Due to his audacity and thrive to achieve the extraordinary, the Frenchman almost failed the entry exam as he performed dangerous stunts to impress.Among his several exploits such as the first night flights between Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires or the crossing of the perilous Andes Mountain range, “the archangel”, as he was nicknamed, completed the very first commercial air crossing from Senegal to South America in 1930.

5    In your view, what is the aerospace industries most important addition to economy and society as a whole?

Aerospace industries fuel the dynamism of the economy as they are at the forefront of technological advance which then flows down on the entire economy, benefitting society as a whole. Not only does the aerospace sector create jobs, allow for technological innovation and scientific discoveries, but it also drives people’s imaginary, thus enlarging our horizons. The space sector is growing, accelerating and blossoming; these outputs have applications in a very wide range of sectors, among which agriculture, environment monitoring, smart mobility and even crisis management – through earth observation, navigation and more.