The two engineers selected for the 100 Flights program to celebrate GE Aviation's 100th anniversary and welcomed as guests at the Paris Air Show, tell the story and feelings of their dreamy days.
Time to go back home, pick-up the reins of daily work and collect thoughts after a unique yet quite challenging experience at the Paris Air Show.
That’s exactly what happened to Andrea Piazza and Stefano Mirone, two engineers dedicated to the design and development of transmissions in Avio Aero. Indeed, they were among the 100 lucky GE Aviation employees from all over the world selected to celebrate the parent company's 100-year anniversary with a very special experience.
Exciting busy days, full of meetings and events. Le Bourget International Show is the main event of the year (in odd years) for the world aeronautics industry. During this week, the world's leading companies showcase new military and civil aeronautical products, along with the latest technologies and also announce important contracts. "It’s been my very first visit to an Air Show and the organization was perfect. I couldn't have ever imagined the extent and way GE Aviation participated, and now I clearly see how important the show is: not only for exhibiting new products and technologies, but also as a meeting point for all the companies in the industry in one place for one week," says Andrea.
For both the engineers, having the chance to attend the Paris Air Show was extremely enriching. Stefano describes his experience with three simple adjectives: strategic, decisive and memorable. On the one hand, it was an opportunity for him to enjoy, as a spectator, what he designs. On the other hand, it meant escaping from the normal working day routine and feeling part of something bigger. "We understand how the fruit of our daily work represents the product that our managers ultimately sell to the customer as the most innovative asset on the market," says the young engineer. "That's why innovation is the mission you strive hard for every day."
For Andrea too, during the show, it was important to appreciate the company as a whole: its ability to build the product with high quality at competitive costs, to defend its intellectual property, to promote its development, to sell it and to maintain it in the proper manner. "Even the best engineering system, however deserving, could not succeed without perfect adherence to these goals," says Andrea.
The key moments of the experience offered by GE Aviation included opportunities for comparison with the latest innovations and major players in the sector. "The high level of innovation in the products at the air show made me understand how technology is proceeding at a very high rate in this industry, much faster than I thought," adds Stefano. "During the events, I have reflected on the unbridled competition within our industry: innovation is shared between the various leaders, who proceed at very high speeds, even though they still can compare with each other. To maintain these rhythms and establish itself on the market as a leader, as I understood, it is necessary to keep up with the development of new technology and tight interaction between the business functions. Continuous alignment with the objectives inside the company is an invaluable element."
The engineers’ schedule ranged from the most important aircraft and helicopter manufacturers, to meetings with professionals: for example, the one with the pilots in the Leonardo exhibition area (in this case from the Fire Department) who shared their incredible maneuvering techniques with the two guests. But there was also time to get a closer look at the latest technologies, like the ones from Textron, and to have the exciting experience of virtual reality when flying aircraft such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Airbus A400M and the RACER.
Among all the exciting new products they cherished, the unveiling of the GE9X engine was undoubtedly the most emotional moment. "Although I didn't work on the program, obviously I'd heard about it from the very outset. Seeing such a large number of spectators wait with enthusiasm for it to be shown publicly for the first time made me realize how the hard work of engineers has really paid off," says Stefano.
"The high level of innovation in the products at the air show made me understand how technology is proceeding at a very high rate in this industry, much faster than I've ever thought!"
Running an international public event of such importance, the two guests were able to appreciate the modern, open and proactive corporate culture that distinguishes GE Aviation and Avio Aero. Indeed, Andrea commented the words of President and CEO David Joyce, in this way: "during the GE9X presentation, while not hiding the great pride in the results achieved, he spoke in an extremely transparent manner of the complications encountered, and of useful tools employed to overcome the many challenges."
Working in aviation, and specifically for innovation, also means being able to look to the future. That is why it is often desirable to use a little imagination and to consider, for example, what tomorrow's engineers will be like and what they'll see at the 2119 Air Show.
According to Stefano, the engineer who will celebrate our 200 year anniversary will certainly see a fully transformed industry: "even today, global players are struggling to introduce new technologies such as hybrid electric, drones or virtual reality. It is very likely that not only will the show be completely turned upside-down by new technologies, but also the work of the engineer may undergo profound changes as the components involved in the design will be potentially very different. I really hope that, once again, another young engineer will have such a unique chance to embrace the career with the right excitement and passion."
"Now I clearly see how important the show is: not only for exhibiting new products and technologies, but also as a meeting point for all the companies in the industry in one place for one week"
Andrea, on the other hand, thinks about the conversations with the big players of the aeronautics industry, and how he was particularly impressed by a speech by a senior Textron executive regarding the needs of the aircraft operator. "New products are welcome but only make sense if they really offer much more than those already on the market," says Andrea, speaking from the customer's perspective.
"It sounds trivial, but the frankness with which we talked has been exemplary for understanding that each new product must be something really much more interesting and pioneering than the previous ones in terms of power, cost, TBO (Time between overhauls) and much more.”
Having reached over one hundred years of business, our history and legacy is what probably most represents our strength and is our defining heritage. “The difference between GE Aviation and other 100-years-old companies lies in the fact that a company, first of all, must remain at the top of the industry to be able to celebrate this kind of anniversary without the need to look over their shoulder and seek greatness in its past", quoted our two engineers.