Getting to Know Rob Eagles, Responsible for System Development and Deployment Strategy at Airbus
What were you working on before you joined Airbus UTM?
I’ve been in the aviation industry for more than 30 years, starting my career in the UK Royal Air Force. After that, I continued to have a focus on aviation, in particular airspace management. I invented a new concept of operations for London Heathrow, I implemented new traffic management technology across the globe and I facilitated operations to support internet access through a new layer of connectivity in the stratosphere.
Why did you join Airbus UTM?
I was impressed by Acubed’s ability to appropriately balance innovation and safety. It is not every day that an established organization such as Airbus takes the innovative step to create an organization like Acubed. Acubed is designed to lead without boundaries, encourage exploration and discovery and facilitate collaboration between traditional aviation teams and techniques with experts from other emerging and established industries. And, our location in Silicon Valley places the office among some of today’s leading tech talent.
Bringing together these unconventional approaches provides a unique opportunity for Airbus Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) to develop solutions, enabling new aircraft to safely enter our skies.
It’s also been an incredible experience of using my technical and operational experience to now be developing new foundations for aerospace - the infrastructure if you will - that will shape the future of flight.
What does your day-to-day work look like?
I help facilitate the new generation of aircraft safety and efficiency by analyzing and developing new technical standards, rules and regulations that will ultimately ensure the success of Airbus UTM.
Strategy: I work with Airbus UTM stakeholders to ensure all parties are in agreement on what the team wants to accomplish and then build a strategy that incorporates all necessary safety and analysis procedures to make sure Airbus UTM is in accordance with new and emerging rules and regulations.
Regulations: I work with standards-making organizations and civil aviation authorities around the world, including NASA and the FAA, to define technical standards, policy and regulations required for Airbus UTM solutions to become a reality.
Rules: I use flight simulation analysis that Airbus UTM has completed, combined with aerospace engineering knowledge and computer system analysis, to assist in establishing the corresponding rules to create safe skies that Airbus UTM will ultimately have to follow.
What is the biggest professional challenge you’ve encountered so far?
The aerospace industry is moving incredibly quickly with innovations in aircraft types, sizes and flight capabilities. One of the key considerations associated with this is to analyze the capability and suitability of existing and new traffic management technologies, rules and procedures to determine if they are fit for purpose in new operating environments (low-altitude and urban areas, for example). If current air traffic management technologies are not suitable, or not cost-effective, then the industry will come up with new or alternative technologies and procedures that will need to be analyzed and regulated. Considering the planned pace of the introduction of new aircraft operations and the ambition for shared airspace operations at scale, there are some interesting challenges ahead.
What advice do you have for someone who’s interested in joining Acubed?
What we're doing is unique. Acubed is one of the very few organizations that is working on the entire thread of aviation through our collaboration and alignment with Airbus. As a broader organization, we’re building the aircraft, the systems on the aircraft, the traffic management systems and collaborating on industry standards. When Airbus talks, people listen. No other company has the same holistic view and the same captivated audience.
I've been around this industry for decades and the progress to evolve air traffic management has tended to be slow in that time. But now, things are changing. More people are paying attention to what’s happening in new areas of aviation, there is new investment and new innovative, bright-minded people entering the space. There is an immense opportunity to address problems that we've had for many years, and make a real, lasting impact on the future of flight.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Working in Silicon Valley is great because of the weather and proximity to the ocean. So outside of work, most of my time is spent with my wife and kids enjoying the coast and paddleboarding. I have eight-year-old twin boys, so downtime is never boring and usually full of fun stuff that I enjoyed in my youth such as mountain biking and martial arts. This is great as it keeps me younger (at least at heart) and on my toes!
If you’re interested in joining our team and building the future of flight, apply here.