Getting to Know Airbus UTM’s Head of Simulation, Max Egorov Nova

What do you do for Airbus UTM?

I am the Head of Simulation at Airbus Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM), responsible for our digital twin efforts, essentially a set of software tools and services that mimic a UTM-powered airspace. Our digital twin allows us to model, simulate and scale a wide range of situations for critical stakeholders including drone and aircraft pilots, operators, regulators and the UTM service providers themselves. In this role, I focus primarily on the technical side, developing software components and leading the team, transforming our R&D tools into a product that stakeholders can use internally at Airbus and externally.

Why did you join Airbus UTM?

I joined the Airbus UTM team at Acubed in Silicon Valley almost five years ago after one of my advisors at Stanford, Mykel Kochenderfer, recommended I talk to the head of the project. At the time, I was working on applied AI within the Aerospace and Astronautical Department at Stanford. The idea of working with Airbus UTM blew me away. The program was new and offered an incredible opportunity to work on a wide array of technical challenges that could make a real impact on the global state of aviation and what it will mean in the future. Over the years, it’s been exciting to watch the industry change and to be a part of that evolution.

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the digital twin concept come to life. From my first days at Acubed, I was working on what I thought of as a simple research tool for simulation. I was writing research papers, and then my colleagues started asking if they could use the tool. Over time, the research grew, and we identified significant gaps and needs within the industry that created this snowball effect of growth. Now, we’re supporting six projects, and this “simple” tool will be an invaluable asset for the future of our skies.

What does your day-to-day look like?

As of late, there are three elements in my daily work.

  • Development: I write software to assist in developing the digital twin, which can be anything from modeling to physics-based simulations to data science toolsets.
  • Management: I help lead and organize the technical efforts behind the digital twin. There are also several folks in the US and EU who I’m helping learn the software skillset needed to use the digital twin.
  • Regulations and Standards: I’m the technical point of contact for other stakeholders, and I work with regulatory bodies to gain consensus around different concepts. Together, we’re ensuring the airspace is safe in the future and that UTM meets Airbus’ gold standard of safety in aviation. In doing so, I contribute for Airbus UTM to the ASTM-UTM standard, which is an industry consensus document outlining what UTM implementation may look like.

What is the biggest challenge you face professionally?

The biggest challenge is ensuring that the software models and tools we’re building are robust, reliable and trustworthy. We’re building a system that regulators and critical decision-makers can trust and will deliver results they can rely on to make or change regulations.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the aerospace tech industry?

The excitement and the amount of impact I can have on problems that I find important is tremendously rewarding and one of the biggest drivers for me. As an engineer, I respect that I can work autonomously in such a complex and high-impact space, and I’m empowered by the flexibility to solve these problems.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love surfing in the ocean and hiking, really anything outdoors. Being outside is a great equalizer to working at home and inside, especially during COVID.

If you’re interested in joining our team and building the future of flight, do reach out via our open roles here.