Cooperation between airlines and manufacturers in developing planes and engines has been a persistent but changing feature of the industry. Leasing of materiel and subcontracting of maintenance have changed the value chain and the relation between airlines and the technical functions. The technical value chain of airlines has thus been subject to both differentiation and vertical integration in different directions. Handling of the technical value chain is in turn related to airline traditions, strategies, interorganizational relations and the cultural and institutional setting of airlines, manufacturers or service providers. Existing technologies are challenged and further developed by new high technology improvements (computerized controls, new materials, new engine configurations and components…). There are experiments with new fuels such as hydrogen which are not conclusive yet. Environmental policies have greatly influenced the development and use of aeroplanes over time: Development of fuel-saving and noise-abated engines, new materials to reduce weight and fuel consumption, improvement of air traffic control to increase the efficiency of flight operations, have marked airline policies over the years. This has not prevented significant increases of transport volume. The question now is how environmental policies will affect future technical change, business volume and strategies.
Prof. Arndt Sorge, Univ. of Groningen and Univ. of Potsdam