Revolution.Aero 2019

The 2019 San Francisco event showed how different technologies are travelling through the famous Gartner Hype Cycle. Words: Hannah Burton and Alasdair Whyte

KIRSTEN BARTOK-TOUW founder of AirFinance, opened Revolution.Aero 2019 reminding attendees of the Gartner Hype Cycle. The consultancy’s simple chart shows how new industries go from the Innovation Trigger to the peak of Inflated Expectations (reaching peak hype); and then quickly slip into the Trough of Disillusionment, before regaining the Slope of Enlightenment and then finally reaching the Plateau of Productivity.

Revolution.Aero covers all parts of the business, general and commercial aviation industries together with different sectors and technologies at very different stages. The opening panel, featuring Andrew Collins CEO of Sentient Jet, Greg Johnson, chief technical officer of One Sky Flight, Per Marthinsson, co-founder of Avinode Group, and Dan Crowe, chief information officer of Wheels Up, was very upbeat about business aviation systems and software. “I think we’re coming out the Trough of Disillusionment into the Era of Enlightenment,” said Crowe.

Kirsten Bartok-Touw, managing partner of AirFinance, invited delegates to survey the Plateau of Productivity.

The conference focused attention on the opportunities and challenges ahead in business aviation.

Crowe’s enthusiasm was not surprising, as he followed Kenny Dichter, founder and CEO of Wheels Up, who announced at the conference that the company was buying Avianis – a successful flight management company. Wheels Up wants to use Avianis to allow it to sell charter with other operators to its members.

The Urban Air Mobility market has not yet slipped into the Trough of Disillusionment. But it was noticeable that this year there was a lot more talk about tough times coming. No one attending the conference thinks all of the more than 250 new aircraft designs will be successful. “Start-ups are experiments in the market,” said Jim Adler, founding managing director of Toyota AI Ventures and an investor in Joby Aviation – one of the sector’s pioneers.