According to Stanley Bugeja, Managing Director of DC Aviation and a respected figure in Malta and Europe's aviation industry, when it comes to technology in the aviation industry, “the sky’s the limit, literally”.
Speaking as part of this week’s episode of The Boardroom aired live on WhosWho.mt’s Facebook page, hosted by business writer and presenter Jo Caruana, Mr Bugeja provided his outlook on how his industry might embrace technology, and what changes the COVID-19 pandemic might have brought vis-à-vis connectivity.
Asked first how digitisation is important to the operation's of his company, Mr Bugeja explained that “it is purely the management side that resides in Malta”, while the rest of the company’s assets and staff are spread throughout the world, meaning “connectivity is key”.
If the infrastructure with which DC Aviation uses to stay connected didn’t work “really well”, he said, the company would have to rethink its Malta base.
Discussing the wider industry, Mr Bugeja explained that digitalisation in the aviation industry has been key to its success.
By the nature of the aviation business, he mused, mechanical, physical connectivity is vital, as operators work on transporting clients “from A to B”.
Business aviation, however, is more complicated than normal commercial aviation, because flights are often scheduled much later on. Wherever they are in the world, an operator needs to know where their aircraft is located, and where their clients are, meaning increased connectivity is demanded to answer these basic yet key questions.
On a more technical basis, “digitalisation has been part of the way we do our business for a long time”, Mr Bugeja commented.
“Aviation is a fast-moving business”, and the technology supporting it is moving fast too.
“We already have engines talking to us on a regular basis, telling engineers everything from temperature to revs”, he explained.
Cockpits are not only connected, but the cabins are too. From streaming Netflix to holding conference calls in the air, passengers are expecting more and more from their in-flight experience, according to Mr Bugeja.
Discussing the impact of the pandemic DC Aviation's operations, especially concerning remote work, he stated that in much the same way as employees in the hotel industry cannot work from home, those in aviation cannot either. While “the technology is probably there for pilots themselves to work from home”, DC Aviation’s VIP meeters and greeters cannot welcome clients from home, Mr Bugeja expressed.
Looking to the future as a self-professed “eternal optimist”, Mr Bugeja predicted that technologisation would bring broad benefits to the aviation industry and the world more generally.
“Going forward, the aviation industry will continue to excel… allowing us to do things better, flying greener and more efficiently, and making it more cost-effective and also better for the environment to fly”.
Technological advancements made during the pandemic, including digital green passes, could, in the future make it easier to do business.
Furthermore, as the technology gets better, and “as we become better at convincing the older generation that technology is safe”, Mr Bugeja said he expects more and more people to book business flights via their mobile phones.
Technology and connectivity are going to get even better, he added, thanks to organisations like Epic, whose CEO Tamás Bányai was also in attendance in The Boardroom.
Asked for some tips to help watchers leverage digitisation, he posited that this can be “difficult and easy at the same time”.
“We need to think out of the box to take advantage… and we have to have the guts to ask the younger generation for their input, listen to their thinking to learn how we can improve our industry”.