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20 Jul 2023

Aviation team attend IAWA European Leadership Forum

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Rupali Sharma and Lucy Moseley of the aviation litigation and regulation team attended the IAWA European Leadership Forum in Amsterdam on 22 to 23 June. The two-day event was a brilliant opportunity to network with fascinating women across the aviation industry, who are predominantly based in the UK or in Europe. Attendees came from airlines, manufacturers, insurers, law firms, airports, aviation service providers, and many other sectors within the industry. The forum focused on diversity and the future of aviation, from a European perspective. The forum hosts were LVNL, an agency that manages air traffic control in the Netherlands, and they kicked off the event by giving the attendees a private tour of their facilities, providing insight into the operations room, training for air traffic controllers and the airspace modernisation projects they are leading on. The two days were a perfect balance of networking with peers and listening to insightful panel discussions.

It was clear from the calibre of panellists, moderators, and key note speakers, that the aviation industry is taking positive strides in becoming more diverse, however, there is still work to be done in order to ensure an equal playing field for women in the industry. Kerissa Khan MRAeS, the President of the Royal Aeronautical Society gave an incredibly motivational speech on the challenges she has overcome in her career to and her journey to becoming the second female president for the society since it was created in 1866. This theme continued in the first panel discussion of the forum which looked at 'Female Leadership – Challenges in Our Industry," and was run by executive female leaders either in the position of COO, Managing Director or President. The number of females in executive roles within organisations like airlines, air navigation service providers, manufacturers and insurers, has grown significantly and this was clearly evident throughout the forum.

In addition to focusing on diversity and how to encourage more females into aviation and leadership roles, the forum also looked at current challenges that the aviation industry is facing. Whilst travel has resumed since the COVID-19 pandemic and many commercial airlines seem to be recovering quicker than expected, the effects of such an unprecedented event are still being felt, especially in terms of labour shortages and regional connectivity. The industry is concerned about the threat of the next recession as it still strives to recover economically from the grounding effects of the pandemic. The Russia and Ukraine war is impacting the entire aviation chain and there is significant pressure on the industry to become more sustainable in order to reach the net zero carbon emissions target by 2050. The forum looked ahead at the future of aviation and the influence of automation in the aerospace industry, from robotics for manufacturing and operations, to the use of artificial intelligence in airport management and air traffic control and the ethical considerations to keep in mind.

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