Aviation answers can be found in nature: Mayrhuber

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Aviation industry stakeholders should look to nature to find solutions for driving better utilization of today's next generation aircraft, suggests former Lufthansa chief executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber.

"We must make use of these airplanes and they must fly like birds. We don't fly the great circle. We don't fly with the relevant speeds. Birds, if they have resistance because there is headwind, they work hard. And as soon as they have tail wind, they slow down. We set the same mark number and fly across the Atlantic. We burn fuel there," said Mayrhuber at the recent Aviation Week MRO Americas conference in Miami.

He added: "I'm sure there is a lot more to be done if you look into nature, and I think the United States has the muscle to really focus on the opportunities for the future in both directions - ecology wise and also from an economical point of view. We lived in the past very often from solutions that were produced for the military and then utilized in the civil area. As military is flying in different modes now, and has other means, etc, we must make sure that the civil arm is not losing momentum."

Mayrhuber also recommends that, when defects are discovered with modern aircraft, that they be "rectified fast and I think we can do this if we take the collective intelligence of the globe rather than waiting for the single knowledge in [the affected firm's] headquarters or wherever".

Christoph Franz recently succeeded Mayrhuber as Lufthansa's chief executive. However, during his tenure, Mayrhuber saw the re-launch of FlyNet in-flight high-speed Internet on overseas flights. The carrier, which intends to offer the service across its entire long-haul fleet, is also using the Ku-band satellite connectivity pipe to provide real-time electronic flight bag (EFB) applications to pilots.

Asked by ATI and Flightglobal if Mayrhuber believes other airlines should embrace broadband connectivity in their cockpits to improve communications and safety, he said: "It's ridiculous that if you go into a cockpit to see maybe 50 kilograms of paperwork in there. You can have that online. And I also believe for safety reasons, what we have done with trend monitoring and maintenance control systems in the past should be done for the total envelope of the flight. And, eventually, I'm absolutely sure, we will have a ground-air communication with all the airplanes around and we will have airplane-to-airplane communication in order to take the efficiency, opportunities that we have in navigating the airplanes better through the skies.

"At the moment, they [aircraft] all rely on ground communication with controllers, and I think the controllers would also like to see something where they have a back-up, and some[thing] reliable. And NextGen [in the United States] and Sesar [in Europe] and others are providing technology in this direction, and it's all embedded in the interest of the controllers, the pilots, and of course those who own the businesses."