A Year of Pioneering: Looking Back At 2021’s Technological Breakthroughs and Innovations in Aviation

Aircraft and Innovation
Ahmed El Dahan
min read
December 15, 2021

2021 has been a fruitful year in terms of aviation-related research and development, for both the commercial and more high tech domains. Here is Eways Aviation’s celebration of the highlights in advancements made over the past year. 

Drones and eVTOLs Coming to Kenya

Drone usage is rapidly expanding beyond surveillance, photography and leisure pursuits. In this past year a Kenya Airways subsidiary - Fahari Aviation - teamed up with UK-based Advanced Air mobility (AAM) company Skyports to pioneer the use of drone-assisted services in Kenya. Drones will be applied to various fields in the country, most notably cargo transportation but are soon expected to be seen in such endeavours as high-tech surveillance and aerial mapping, industrial inspections, emergency and rescue services and other domains.

In addition, Electric Vertical Take-Off (eVTOLs) are also being planned for urban integration in Kenya by another subsidiary of the country’s flag carrier - Eve Urban Air Mobility (Eve for short). Teaming up with Embraer to test air taxi technology in the Kenyan airspace, the main goal is to provide cleaner city transport in Nairobi whilst also eliminating the congestion experienced by passengers arriving at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. 

Catch the full articles on Fahari Aviation and Eve

Intelsat - Satellite Provided In-flight Connectivity

In one of the greatest milestones relating to on-board connectivity and WiFi services, Intelsat and Airbus joined forces in early 2021 to bring advanced satellite technology to commercial aviation. Furthermore Intelsat is also working to bring full 5G services to airline passengers mid-flight.

Amongst its achievements over the year, Intelsat has received various awards such as the Best In-Flight Wi-Fi Service by Global Traveler Magazine along with being coined Best Satellite Operator in the Telecom Review Excellence Awards.

Equipped with the new Airbus satellites the firm will be able to improve the quality of its existing connectivity strength available to passengers whilst efficiently distributing internet capacity between aircraft.

Get the full story here

The Spirit of Innovation - High Speed Electric Aircraft

This year Rolls Royce’s sportive all electric turboprop plane broke the world record for fastest electric airplane, overtaking the Siemens eAircraft powered Extra 330 LE Aerobatic model that had held the title since 2017. The vintage-inspired design has been reported to achieve speeds of 623km/h during test runs. Moreover the aircraft’s fully electric capability is bringing the aviation industry a step closer to zero emission status.

Read the full story

Interspace - Comfort in Economy

In the world of commercial aviation, economy passengers will be particularly pleased with the advances made in improving comfort in the coach cabin. Noting its first release, the UK firm Universal Movement (UM) has combined its efforts with Safran to release their revolutionary seat design aptly titled the Interspace. 

Providing passengers a headrest for comfortable sleep along with added seclusion from neighbors, the seat design is set to feature in premium economy cabins around the globe. In addition, the firm is also procuring the Interspace Lite version of the seat that will be enjoyed by standard economy travelers - who will enjoy the heightened privacy provided by the new design over traditional economy seats.  

More information can be found in the full article

Sustainable Jet Fuel - Flying Clean

The French conglomerate Total Energies took particular interest in materializing green fuel for the aviation industry in 2021. Produced from waste cooking oil and animal fats (with no impact on agricultural food production), the firm has been supplying several French airports with its alternative fuels as of 2021.

Total Energies has also been a key player in the Vol Avec Carburants Alternatifs Nouveaux (VOLCAN) Project. Collaborating with aviation giants that include Airbus, Safran and Dassault, the project is set to test the use of 100% sustainable jet fuel in an A320neo with the intention to soon supply it for mainstream commercial aviation use. The teams have also been working with German non-profit organization ADAC Luftrettung to utilize sustainable fuel in helicopters. 

Read the full story here

A Fresh Start

Such developments are a positive round off to a year that still challenged the aviation industry with the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. These advancements guarantee that when the world is back on its feet, passengers can fly far more comfortably whilst leaving a significantly lowered carbon footprint.

Ahmed El Dahan
Aviation Journalist
A seasoned writer, Ahmed El Dahan was trained in Journalism and Mass Communication in the American University in Cairo. He then moved on to refine his writing skills working in various publications covering such topics as tourism, art exhibitions, music along with being a food critic. Relocating to Paris in 2015, he has an ever growing curiosity for the aviation industry. Away from the page, Dahan is an active professional saxophonist.

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