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The Fly Your Ideas alumnus shaping Airbus’ digital future

Mar 22, 2019

From Fly Your Ideas to a high-flying career! Chamendra Amarasinghe took part in Airbus Fly Your Ideas in 2015 and made it to Round 2 with Team Ivy from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia. He now works as a Business Developer at Skywise, Airbus’ cutting-edge open data platform. We caught up with Chamendra to find out more.

During the Fly Your Ideas competition, Chamendra’s team developed innovative hybrid joints for titanium-carbon fibre interfaces using additive manufacturing (metal 3D printing). He explains: ‘While the aviation industry is transitioning to composite material, drilling techniques from metal aircraft production are still used, which could potentially damage the composite materials. This new method could potentially reduce this risk, leading to a stronger and longer-lasting joint.’

Following the competition, Chamendra pursued his interest in digital solutions at Airbus’ Saint-Nazaire plant in France, working on Digital Transformation for Quality in the A320 aircraft family. This involved carefully observing the current way of work and finding ways to implement digital tools and processes to ease the workload.

In 2018, Chamendra joined Skywise – a project described by Marc Fontaine, Airbus Digital Transformation Officer and Patron of the Fly Your Ideas competition, as ‘the beating heart of aviation.’ With Skywise, Airbus and big data pioneer Palantir Technologies bring together aviation data from multiple sources across the industry into one secure cloud-based platform. Skywise aims to reduce flight disruptions; decrease maintenance costs; transform flight, cabin and ground operations; and encourage faster decision-making.

Skywise also aims to support the aerospace industry’s digital transformation. Chamendra explains, ‘The industry has always been conservative yet bold when it comes to new technologies. Most new technologies arrive late, after maturing and being refined in other industries. Nevertheless, when it does appear, it makes a strong entrance causing big changes. It’s the same with Skywise and the move to digital aircraft and aviation big data. The aviation ecosystem is just making this transition now, and as it does, it’s requiring more and more digital skillsets.’

How does Chamendra’s work at Skywise compare to the Fly Your Ideas competition? ‘In some ways, it’s like Fly Your Ideas, in that most of the work that is done is in anticipation of future technology.’

He adds, ‘the competition has an element of marketing, where we had to keep the public informed of the project status. Whether it’s a future strategic project or an internal Airbus one, there’s always an element of keeping the right stakeholder informed and excited about the progress being made, and those are definitely skills that started outside of the technical university classroom and in public competitions like Fly Your Ideas.’

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