Game-changing technology sought

Experts in space and aerospace science meet to discuss ways of staying ahead of increasing number of security challenges.

ABU DHABI // A new generation of military threats, improved aviation safety and drones to aid disaster relief efforts are on the agenda at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

Experts at Monday’s Global Aerospace Summit 2016 will discuss how technology can be used to more efficiently tackle the increasing number of security challenges facing the region.

“It’s no secret that we, as a global community, face security challenges of unprecedented complexity and scope,” said Matthew Cochran, chairman of Defence Services Marketing Council in Abu Dhabi. The aerospace industry is a world leader in meeting these threats.”

The UAE is a hub for space and aerospace technology, with major players such as Yahsat providing the government, military, civil and commercial sectors.

“Meeting the challenges of today will lay the groundwork for a magnificent tomorrow,” Mr Cochran said. “This is exactly what the world needs right now. Building game-changing technologies requires the concerted effort of teams of exceptional individuals, each instilled with specialised knowledge and a unique curiosity. Fundamentally, that is the most valuable component of the summit.”

Last year, the UAE Space Agency announced it had invested more than Dh18 billion in its programmes, which the Government identified as a sector for development. “In a short period of time, the UAE has built a space sector which is providing huge opportunities for economic development and diversification and this has only been achieved through collaboration and knowledge transfer,” said Dr Mohammed Al Ahbabi, the agency’s director general.

“The outcomes we can expect [from the summit] include building new business relationships and strengthening existing ones while exploring the possibilities of cooperation in the fascinating field of space science.”

He said the summit would be an opportunity to look ahead.

“It gives us the chance to propose solutions to common challenges and only by getting together and discussing these issues can they be solved,” he said.

“The summit is a chance to forge partnerships, learn lessons and raise the profile of Abu Dhabi and the UAE as a destination and as a vibrant centre for business growth and development.”

Aviation will hold a vital place at the conference as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which are commonly known as drones, are increasingly being used commercially in environmental and fishery operations, disaster response and firefighting.

“They have a huge recreational use,” said Hussein Dabbas, regional vice president Africa and the Middle East at the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

“The UAV industry is expanding at a fast rate but it will take time before we have unmanned commercial aircraft.

“In the meantime, a lot of standards governing the introduction of such technology is being worked on within the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which remains the umbrella for global standards.”

IATA is launching an awareness campaign to educate regulators and the public about the safety risks associated with the operation of recreational drones and the irresponsible use of UAVs. “The summit provides the opportunity to discuss the integration of developing technologies such as UAVs in the wider aviation landscape,” he said.

“As the region’s aviation powerhouse, the UAE provides the perfect platform for discussions on topics that are both relevant to the industry today and will be relevant into the future.”