• Top 6 Challenges Facing the Aerospace Industry

The Aerospace industry is huge and continues to develop and grow. This industry enables safe and efficient air travel, contributes to increased consumerism and globalization of supply chains, and plays a critical role in national defense. Lengthy sales processes and intensive delivery cycles coupled with constantly changing compliance regulations present this industry with many tough challenges. The size of the industry and its potential for growth is even more daunting when you consider the number of aerospace industry regulations that companies must adhere to.  

In this article, we will take a look at 6 of the biggest challenges that are expected to play a significant role in shaping the future of the Aerospace Industry, including the most significant aerospace regulations that require compliance. Then we will explore the advantages of an automated competency management system that works efficiently to help organizations overcome these obstacles and achieve and maintain compliance.  

What are 6 of the biggest challenges facing the Aerospace Industry?

  1. Talent management, which includes managing and retaining a diverse workforce is one of the most robust assets in the industry. Products and services in the aerospace and defense industry are unlike other industries, so it is crucial to grow its diverse labor base in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Today, the industry faces a great shortage of trained technical staff, while skill requirements become increasingly advanced. The challenge is to prepare a steady talent stream of younger workers with the right skills, aptitude, experience, and interest to step into the jobs vacated by senior-level engineers and skilled technicians. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Aerospace engineers are needed for designing, constructing, and testing aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. Engineers may also conduct basic and applied research to evaluate the adaptability of materials and equipment to aircraft design and manufacture. They also recommend improvements in testing equipment and techniques. Manufacturers need to assess competencies and build effective learning plans in order to maintain a competitive advantage with a well-educated workforce that is able to cope with the rapid technological developments and stay on top of the ever-changing digital innovations. Competency management, which includes hard and soft skill training, should be an integral part of any Aerospace organization’s talent management.   
  2. Cybersecurity is a serious threat to the Aerospace industry.  Cybercriminals recognize the asset-rich potential of these organizations. This makes them attractive targets for criminals searching for vulnerabilities in every level of the manufacturing supply chain. Cybercriminals threaten the privacy and monetary aspects of the industry. Time, money, and resources must be devoted to the very latest cybersecurity technology to ensure the safety and protection of all sectors across the industry.
  3. Sustainability and climate change present short-term and long-term challenges for the Aerospace industry. Manufacturers are tasked with the need to come up with innovative solutions to keep air travel sustainable for future generations. Sustainability focuses on reducing the negative impacts of travel and maximizing the positive benefits for communities and the planet. It takes into account the immediate impact that can be felt today, as well as the long-term impacts that future generations will experience. More and more people around the globe are recognizing the need to protect the Earth’s resources and reduce our carbon footprint. Eco-travel, combining sustainability and travel, must become a priority for the aerospace industry.
  4. Manufacturing Digitalization has changed the face of the Aerospace industry. The digital transformation has forced Aerospace manufacturers to innovate and modernize in order to keep up with current trends. 3D printing, modular design, and cloud-enabled automated production are just a few of the innovative trends that are changing the industry. Business strategies should be adjusted and secured in order to invest money and training to meet these fast-paced changes that organizations will continue to face in the near future.
  5. Data requirements have grown astronomically to meet the needs of the explosion of supply and demand, as well as innovative technology. Organizations must use reliable and secure technologies to support scalability and performance in this data-intensive industry.
  6. Maintaining Compliance is one of the greatest challenges that the Aerospace industry faces. This ever-evolving field provides us with powerful and efficient ways to explore the skies and outer space. Companies must conform to the depth and complexity of safety and quality standards of excellence. This is crucial in order to reduce user or system error, maintain business agility, and drive the new product development process.

Unlike most types of manufacturing, Aerospace compliance is dictated and governed by its own industry-specific regulations. It is crucial to have a strong team of competent and qualified staff that will improve the compliance credentials of the organization. When everyone in the business has a comprehensive understanding of the industry regulations, compliance can be achieved.

What are the most common safety and quality standards required in the Aerospace industry?

NAS9933 was published by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), made up of representatives across the industry, including those who work specifically on aircraft, spacecraft, and general defense. It was designed to provide risk assessment and solutions to cybersecurity threats. Alignment with NAS9933 standards is voluntary, however, organizations in the industry find that clients and business partners require alignment with this standard before entering into a business relationship.

NIST’s SP 800-171 is another cybersecurity standard, and although not solely created for the Aerospace industry, this standard is more comprehensive than NAS9933. It is applied to aerospace and defense companies, and it provides guidelines for identifying cybersecurity risks, protecting systems, responding to breaches, and recovering data during a cybersecurity breach. It includes 110 security controls that allow organizations to keep their files and data safe and secure. 

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) is designed to keep defense-related items and technology protected from adversarial nations, terrorists, and criminals. It works in conjunction with the United States Munitions List (USML), which determines the items and technologies that are governed by ITAR. ITAR regulates the physical access to and trade of everything on the USML, as well as the technical data. The USML includes a huge range of defense-related categories such as nuclear weapons and biological agents, as well as aviation and spacecraft-related items. In order to manufacture anything that is on the USML, you must ensure that you are ITAR compliant.   

Export Administration Regulations (EAR) specifically limit the export of “controlled” items managed by the Commerce Department. EAR uses the Commerce Control List (CCL) as a guide for what is regulated. Under EAR companies can export EAR-controlled technologies and products to foreign countries as long as the information related to, or the technology itself, meets certain encryption standards, and the company meets other requirements of the regulation.    

AS9100 standards present the specific quality management requirements for providing or manufacturing aerospace machines and parts. These standards will ensure that organizations provide the highest quality service to customers and clients, and should be adopted by all departments and teams in an organization. The practices help increase cost-effectiveness, work speed, and performance for organizations all over the globe.   

Compliance with these Aerospace related standards provides many benefits to organizations. It can open up new opportunities within the supply chain and within international markets, creating a competitive advantage. Compliance will also help avoid penalties. Willful violation of ITAR or EAR can lead to fines of up to $1 million for a violation, as well as possible imprisonment. Most importantly, these standards are designed to support the safety and security of the US and its citizens. 

Why is Competency Management so important in the Aerospace Industry?

Compliance and quality management processes have the best chance of succeeding in an organization when there is a configurable platform that allows you to model your organizational hierarchy to assign, prioritize, track, audit, and report activities by role, team, or organization.

Technology is an integral aspect of our business lives and spans every industry, with aerospace being no exception. Automated software solutions are available now that are designed to streamline your internal operations, which increases both efficiency and compliance. Used properly, the right software can play an important role in keeping your aviation manufacturing business compliant.

An automated competency management system, like CABEM’s Competency Manager, works efficiently to help organizations overcome the obstacles the Aerospace industry is facing and achieve and maintain compliance. 

CABEM’s Competency Manager makes learning accessible to the entire workforce through its many options for implementing blended learning. With SCORM compatibility and a built-in LMS, the Competency Manager provides a central framework for all your content, no matter the source. Centralized learning materials allow your organization to stay organized and provide consistency, two essential elements of increasing learner engagement. Easily import existing training programs, build your own tests and assessments, track attendance, and administer guided learning. Create a learning ecosystem by integrating with your existing LMS or pull-in content from third-party content providers.

If training and quality assurance are top priorities for your organization, but your competency management system doesn’t feel credible, isn’t repeatable, or leaves your team uneasy as they prepare for audits, CABEM can help.