Balancing sustainability with economic viability: Mapping the future of aviation through a holistic approach.
-An Interview with Michel van Ierland

Can we transform aviation into a more sustainable industry without compromising efficiency and economic viability? This question lies at the heart of realising technological solutions for energy transition and sustainability in the aviation sector. From pioneering breakthroughs to infrastructure upgrades and fleet replacements, the industry must explore diverse approaches. Global decarbonisation in aviation necessitates international collaboration.

Dutch businesses have a prime opportunity to lead in sustainable aviation, fostering growth and innovation through partnerships and network leverage. Addressing all facets of the aviation value chain, from design to operations, is essential. As the world emphasises reducing the industry’s ecological footprint, significant hurdles prompt innovation towards greener technologies. Furthermore, this initiative presents a significant export potential for the Netherlands within the European Union, further amplifying the nation’s role in driving sustainable aviation globally. How do we tackle these challenges?

We spoke with Michel van Ierland, Managing Partner of Unified International, to gain insight into the company’s role in addressing these complex issues.

 

Can you tell me more about the role Unified plays in addressing these challenges?
We see these challenges as crucial focal points in our mission to create sustainable value for both our clients (and vice versa) and the planet. Through close involvement in technological advancements, logistics, infrastructure development, and regulations within the aviation sector, we aim to have a positive impact on the transition to sustainable aviation.

The main challenge is assembling the right people, blending technical expertise with economic insight. Unified’s success lies in our ability to accurately evaluate the feasibility and commercial viability of sustainable aviation technologies.

In collaboration with stakeholders including governments, OEMs, airports, and scale-ups, Unified International pursues a holistic approach to sustainability. Understanding chain dependencies, we develop solutions benefiting the entire industry, fostering resilience and sustainability in aviation.

 

You recently attended the sustainable aviation mission in the United States. What were the main insights gained, particularly concerning collaboration and innovation?

I have gathered invaluable insights through engaging with key players such as Airbus, Boeing, and NASA, deepening my understanding of the sustainability challenges faced within the United States aviation sector. Addressing these challenges demands determined collaboration and innovation on a global scale. Leveraging Dutch aviation legacy and proactive government and cross-sector collaboration uniquely positions Dutch businesses to lead global sustainable aviation efforts. By engaging in the triple helix approach, where government, industry, and academia collaborate synergistically, Dutch companies can pioneer transformative advancements, both domestically and globally, driving a more sustainable future for aviation.

Can you provide some examples of initiatives Unified International is involved in?

Certainly, Conscious Aerospace and the DutcH2 Aviation Hub are examples of some of our initiatives. Conscious Aerospace is at the forefront of developing hydrogen-electric systems for aviation, which have the potential to revolutionise the industry. Similarly, the DutcH2 Aviation Hub is dedicated to establishing a hydrogen-based aviation ecosystem, laying the foundation for a sustainable future. This initiative encompasses the entire hydrogen value chain at the airport, from production to operation. We collaborate with industry leaders including Shell, Transavia, TU Delft, Royal NLR, with Rotterdam The Hague Airport (RHIA), serving as the project initiators and executive board, leading this endeavour.

What factors do you consider when evaluating the viability and potential success of new initiatives?

Feasibility and commercial viability are paramount to our approach. We conduct thorough assessments of new technologies and initiatives to ensure they align with our sustainability goals while also making economic sense. Being realistic about what is achievable, we collaborate with industry partners and leverage our expertise to identify opportunities that offer both environmental benefits and long-term profitability.

 

Looking ahead, what is Unified International’s vision for the future of sustainable aviation?

Our vision is to pioneer a greener future for the aviation industry. We envision a world where flying is not only efficient and economically viable but also environmentally sustainable. Through continued collaboration, innovation, and dedication, we are confident that we can make this vision realistic.

 

Future Collaboration

Unified International fosters collaboration across public and private sectors, prioritising sustainability while remaining realistic about achievable goals and timelines. We form strategic partnerships, integrating various perspectives to drive sustainable initiatives forward. Leveraging our expertise, we spearhead the transition to sustainable aviation, guiding stakeholders in adopting new energy sources for greener air mobility.

Dutch Defence initiatives and Unified International’s supportive role to protect what is valuable to us.

The emerging global security situation impacts our North Sea Region. As a result, it is of increasing importance for the Netherlands to safeguard our strategic interests. Monitoring (potential) maritime threats to protect vital infrastructure in the North Sea against sabotage and espionage is an essential part of that. This includes undersea cables and pipelines used for various purposes such as data communication, electricity, hydrogen, or gas transmission.

Airborne surveillance plays a pivotal role in providing a recognised maritime picture at sea. In 2020 the Netherlands Coastguard awarded the contract for airborne surveillance to an international consortium of companies. Unified International supported the winning proposition by aligning their capabilities most effectively with the operational needs of the Coastguard.

 

 

Advancing Defence Tech: Strengthening European Self-Reliance

Besides safeguarding the North Sea Region, there is a pressing need to enhance defence capabilities overall by innovating and upgrading outdated technology. Concurrently, efforts are made to increase production to meet urgent requirements for Ukraine and replenish our reserves.

To achieve these goals, government and industries need to work together. Recently, a taskforce has been formed by the Netherlands Ministry of Defence to assess the future operational needs and to adjust the regulatory framework. Its goal is to speed up production and procurement processes. Primary focus herein is on Netherlands strategic interests like radar-, drone-, space-, and marine technology. Investments in new production capacity is necessary, therefore investors are encouraged to support the defence industry with additional funding.

 

 

Future Collaboration

Unified embraces the collaborative approach within the public and private defence sector. We establish strategic partnerships with industry stakeholders and bridge the gap between their governmental counterparts. Our strength lies in incorporating operational, technological, economic, operational, and legal perspectives together.

With this strategy, Unified International supports efficiency, and excellence in defence projects, thereby strengthening the Netherlands’ defence position eventually leading to operational effectiveness.

 

Contact Us
Interested in collaborating with us? Contact us!

 

Advancing Aviation with Artificial Intelligence: Insights from the first SIG Meeting

The Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting on ‘Artificial Intelligence (AI) in aviation’ held on February 15th showcased the evolving landscape of AI adoption within the aviation sector. Organised in partnership with the Netherlands Aerospace Group (NAG), the workshop aimed to spotlight practical AI applications within aviation, facilitating knowledge exchange and fostering collaboration among industry experts.

With an engaging introduction by Luca sparking discussions, the meeting featured presentations from Jan Verbeek, Partner of Knowledge Management, and Innovation at ADSE, and Bart Vredebregt, CEO and founder of Aiir Innovations. We aimed to explore practical AI applications in aviation, focusing on business implications. We discussed strategies for leveraging AI to enhance organisational capabilities, boost productivity, and stay competitive.

Unified’s AI focus
Unified International’s AI-focused approach revolves around transforming work dynamics and organisational structures, tailored to aviation needs, by offering strategic analysis, opportunity identification, and comprehensive support services. Additionally, we are looking into data strategy management, ethical AI consultation, and comprehensive business case development, fostering potential partnerships for enhanced capabilities, all aimed at boosting productivity, enhancing decision-making, and streamlining tasks within high-value, low-creativity areas.

Diverse approaches
During the meeting, it was observed that companies exhibit diverse approaches to AI adoption. While some sell specialised AI tools without fully utilising AI to enhance organisational capabilities, others, including mid-sized companies, are implementing AI initiatives, even if their core products aren’t AI-based. Large organizations, focusing on digital transformation, express interest in integrating AI but face uncertainty regarding implementation.

This collaboration with NAG offers Unified International a platform to engage with peers, share insights, and drive AI adoption in aviation effectively. NAG serves as a hub for Dutch aviation companies, facilitating alignment on standards, sharing experiences, articulating needs for new protocols, and interacting with AI tool providers compliant with aviation regulations.

Next meetings Excited to delve deeper into AI’s potential? Join the next SIG AI’s future meetings! The SIG will meet three times a year.

Contact Wilma Pronk at wilma.pronk@nag.aero for more information.

Aviation Innovation Strategy of I&W

The strategy describes the new aircraft and energy carriers such as Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), Hydrogen and Electricity that are necessary to achieve ambitious climate goals in 2030, 2050 and 2070.

happs

Hapss

Unified International has over the last two years created a vision and aligned 17 highly specialised companies including the Knowledge Institutes combining innovation from maritime, automotive and aviation to establish a totally Dutch solution in HAPSS.

The-commonalities-between-running-a-submarine-and-consulting

The commonalities between running a submarine and consulting

Used to take charge, discuss and negotiate in (inter)national fora, work with and motivate a team of professionals, prioritize workloads and deliver a high standard of work. All elements essential for planning and executing successfully deployments.

Data-to-empower-business-opportunities-into-more-Sustainable-projects-or-services

Data to Empower Business Opportunities into more Sustainable projects or services.

Business opportunities arise once in a while, it is better to be ready to take them when it’s the time. To have the right information before it becomes of public domain is often the key competitive advantage that makes you identify and/or close a deal before someone else does.

Business tips

Sharing 40 years in Aerospace, Stephen´s vision in bringing change to enable aviation to be Sustainable

Business opportunities arise once in a while, it is better to be ready to take them when it’s the time. To have the right information before it becomes of public domain is often the key competitive advantage that makes you identify and/or close a deal before someone else does.

business tips

The role of bid lead and how to meet customer needs while being competitive.

Kristian is programme and proposal manager at Unified International. He has over 10 years of experience as programme manager in aerospace and defence for the government, knowledge institutes and industry, and more than 5 years of experience in High Tech proposal management.