Air and space innovation is focus of webinar series starting Jan. 27

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) is presenting a three-part international webinar series, for two hours each day on January 27, February 3 and February 10, focused on the latest innovative technologies in aviation and space for commercial and defense applications – many of which are being developed or advanced in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia.

Day 1 (January 27) of the “Air & Space Innovation Series” will spotlight Air Innovation: Flying Cars, Drones and Unmanned Air Systems.” Day 2 (February 3) will focus on “Space Innovation, Novel Communications and Expeditions.” Day 3 (February 10) will spotlight “Defense Innovation in Air and Space.”

See below Q & A with Amanda Simpson, vice president for research and technology at Herndon-headquartered Airbus Americas, who provides a “sneak peek” into what to expect at the conference, including what viewers may glean from watching her keynote presentation on Day 1 of the event.

Click here for registration details. The virtual series will be broadcast using the Whova platform, which allows for additional networking opportunities beyond the program and presentations. Instructions for event access on Whova will be provided upon registration.

“The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority thanks the notable experts who will be discussing the latest technologies in aviation and space for commercial and defense applications during the international webinar series,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the FCEDA. “Many of the companies that will be represented are located within or conduct substantial business operations in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia – exemplifying the region as a major global aerospace technology hub.”

Jan. 27: Air innovation: flying cars, drones and unmanned air systems

With the focus on “Air Innovation,” the keynote address, titled: “New technologies and challenges in aviation” will be delivered by Amanda Simpson, vice president for research and technology at Herndon-based Airbus Americas.

An “Aviation technology showcase” will be moderated by: Graham Warwick, executive editor, technology, Aviation Week; and will feature: Amit Ganjoo, CEO of ANRA Technologies, based in Tysons; Don Thoma, CEO of Aireon, based in Tysons; David Merrill, CEO and co-founder of Elroy Air; and Mark Blanks, director of Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership.

The closing remarks, titled “Virginia: Leading Unmanned Aerial Systems,” will be delivered by Tracy Tynan, director of unmanned systems at the Herndon-headquartered Center for Innovative Technology.

Feb. 3: Space innovation: novel communications and expeditions

With the focus on “Space Innovation,” opening remarks will feature Daniel Dumbacher, executive director at American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, based in Reston.

A panel discussion titled “New technologies for space applications,” will be moderated by Dr. Eliad Peretz, lead researcher, new space missions at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Panelists will be Dylan Browne, vice president, government sales at OneWeb, based in North America in Tysons; Eric Ingram, founder and CEO at Scout; Brad Grane, strategic development manager, defense and intelligence systems at Ball Aerospace, based in Chantilly; Gil Shacham, vice president of marketing and products at SatixFy; and Dr. Jon Arenberg, chief engineer for space science missions at Northrop Grumman, headquartered in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County.

The closing keynote, titled “The future of space exploration,” will be delivered by Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA HEO Missions Directorate.

Feb. 10: Defense innovation in air and space

With the focus on “Defense Innovation,” Col. Nathan Diller, USAF, director of AFWERX will deliver the keynote presentation, titled: “AFWERX: The US Air Force program for service innovation.”

A defense technology solutions showcase, titled: “Technology solutions for defense aerospace,” will be moderated by Daniel Wasserbly, editor at Janes International Defence Review; and feature Ted Bowlds, CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries North America, based in Herndon; Joshua Niedzwiecki, vice president, strategy and planning at BAE Systems, headquartered in the U.S. in the Falls Church area; Scott Herman, chief solutions architect, BlackSky, based in Herndon; and Matt McCrann, vice president of sales, DroneShield.

The closing keynote presentation will be delivered by Nathan Merritt, International Business Development at Reconnaissance Mission Systems Sector, Integrated Mission Systems, L3Harris Technologies. The topic for the discussion will be “Integrated Mission Solutions for the Next Fight.”

Click here to register for the Air & Space innovation conference.

Q&A with Amanda Simpson, VP for research and technology at Airbus Americas

Based in Herndon, Airbus Americas is the U.S.-based subsidiary of Airbus, the global aeronautics, space and related services corporation headquartered in Leiden, Netherlands. Amanda Simpson, vice president, research and technology, Airbus Americas, is responsible for all research, innovation and technology for Airbus in the western hemisphere.

Simpson has more than 40 years of aerospace industry experience, including positions at Douglas Aircraft Company, Hughes Aircraft Company, Hughes Helicopters, and at Raytheon. She joined Airbus after serving as deputy assistant secretary of defense for operational energy. In this role, she was the senior advisor to the defense secretary for all matters pertaining to energy in the U.S. military. She is a certified airline transport pilot and a certified flight instructor.

As the keynote presenter at the Fairfax County EDA’s Air & Space webinar series event on Jan. 27, which focuses on Air Innovation, Simpson will discuss “New Technologies and Challenges in Innovation.”

Simpson talked to FCEDA to provide a peek into what to expect at the conference, including what viewers may glean from watching her keynote presentation on Day 1 of the event. She also talks about why Fairfax County is a great location for Airbus Americas.

FCEDA: What about this conference seems most interesting to you, and why?

Simpson: This conference is going to be very interesting because innovation is in the corporate DNA at Airbus. Whether it’s the first fly-by wire aircraft systems, to the future approaches to air travel, such as the CityAirbus or the Vahana automated flying taxis that you’ve read about, we are constantly pressing the boundaries of what is possible in air travel and the conference will focus on that very aspect—innovation. It promises to bring some exciting insights and some lively discussion.

FCEDA: Can you provide us a “sneak peek” brief overview of some of the topics that you plan to cover during your keynote address on “Air Innovation”?

Simpson: Well, one of them is hydrogen-based propulsion, part of our ZEROe [zero emission] project. I’ll talk a little bit about sustainability in the decarbonization roadmap that Airbus is showing.

Also, I will probably will talk about the pandemic and how it has really had an unprecedented challenge in the aerospace industry, particularly around the perceived risk of spreading COVID on commercial aircraft. I’ll provide some insights on the steps that Airbus has taken to validate the safety of air travel in the time of the COVID and reassure the flying public that the air travel is safe from covert transmission in the aircraft cabin.

FCEDA: Why are Herndon and Fairfax County a great location for the U.S. headquarters of the company?

Simpson: Fairfax County is a great location for our headquarters because it is close to the federal government but also has access to a highly educated, skilled workforce. And right out our back door is Dulles Airport, and not only is that important for our business travel, which is not just domestic and international, but also for our vast parts distribution network, which is critical to keep our aircraft and operation all across the United States. Plus, in the Dulles corridor there are many aerospace companies that we collaborate with and they’re really right down the street.

FCEDA: Can you tell us a little about what led you to the career you’ve chosen?

Simpson: When I was little I was fascinated by the Gemini and Apollo space programs, and I wanted to be an astronaut. And, as I was about go to college, I found out that one of the graduates from that college was an astronaut, and was going to be launched into space on space shuttle program when it became operational, and I realized that I then had a path toward space.

Space didn’t really work out for me, but I what I found out was that the school had an aviation program and I learned how to fly. I learned all about aerospace and all the technology that was necessary, not just the aerodynamics and propulsion, but how that complex system operates. And I was hooked.

Here at Airbus we work with commercial aircraft, military aircraft, space systems, and helicopters. All those things are what Airbus does and I get to lead, orchestrate, all the different technology development and research and innovation activities that are going on in the Americas. Pretty darn exciting.

January 21, 2021