The aircraft eases away from the gate onto the tarmac, and you wait for the familiar, "Flight attendants, prepare for departure." You move from zero to what seems like warp speed down the runway, until you feel the plane tilt and lift. The sound of the landing gear tucking tells you you're in the air. The airport, the city, the ground itself give way to a tuft of clouds. You're at cruising altitude, above it all for a while.
Whether you love to fly or keep your eyes shut tight from takeoff to landing, chances are, you miss it right now. If not for the experience itself, for the way flying connects you to the people and places you love. On the business front, for the way it connects you to customers, colleagues and contacts across the industry.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything in an instant – impacting our health, livelihoods, ability to travel and, of course, our global economy. One of the main drivers of that economy is our own commercial aviation industry, which has seen a 90 percent reduction in demand.
A return to the skies
Here's some good news. While the brightest minds in the medical and public health communities focus on a vaccine and treatment that will stop the spread of this devastating virus, the best minds in science, engineering and technology – many of them right here at Collins – are also hard at work reimagining and redefining commercial aviation in a post-pandemic world.
Here's a look at what we've done and are doing to help.
Redefining is our specialty
Collins Aerospace has formed an internal “Redefining Air Travel Task Force” that is moving fast on many fronts. The group's mission is straightforward but complex: to restore confidence in air travel – not just for passengers, but for airline and airport employees, and every other stakeholder along the way.
Task force members spent their first few weeks in the idea phase, identifying the top 20 (out of 200) ready-now or ready-soon technologies that could quickly provide the most benefit to the industry. New ideas were fast-tracked, too.
Customer support and actionable solutions
The task force is now in the engagement and implementation phase, talking to our customers and helping them turn products and technologies into feasible solutions – whether they have a Collins name on them or not.
In addition to airline and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers, some task force members and their subcommittees have been meeting regularly with airport operators, supply chain customers, industry associations and regulatory bodies, public health experts in and out of academia, and government officials at the highest levels in the U.S. and abroad. It's important work, to ensure that we not only have a seat at the table in shaping policy and safety guidance, but also have a chance to influence economic decision-making.
Adapt and advance
We've always found innovative ways to support our customers and advance our industry. That was true before COVID-19, it's true now, and it will remain a constant. As we all work hard to bring the commercial aviation industry back, strong and more resilient, we can feel good knowing that our company's engineering and manufacturing talent, industry relationships and advanced technologies are helping us find the right solutions for the right stakeholders at a time when they're needed most.
Because we all have places we want – and need – to go. Collins is redefining how we'll get there.