Susan Ying, VP of Technology Strategy at Ampaire, joins Travel Tech Con 2018

We are happy and excited to welcome Susan to Travel Tech Con 2018 — looking forward to learning big time from Susan’s experience as the President of International Council of Aeronautical Science and VP of Technology Strategy at Ampaire — the future of commercial flights.

We had a chance to ask Susan a couple of questions on her vision of innovation in travel space.

Susan, what in your opinion drives innovation and leaps forward in travel industry today and how is it different from say 10 years ago?

I think 3 key drivers are making it possible for innovation in travel industry today:
The IoT (Internet of Things) and data analytics — where we are all connected at anytime and anywhere (mostly), and have access to travel critical information so that the traveling public and the industry (airlines, trains, taxi/Uber, car shares, etc) can leverage the IoT and “participate” to enable new business models to leap forward in efficiency and convenience. Moreover, with access to the IoT and everything having digital footprint, the travelers and industry will have lots and lots of data generated. These data can enable better understanding of the needs and ways to improve the industry.
Sensor fusion and artificial intelligence development — these can help with the next generation of autonomous vehicles (on the road and in the sky), which will really be game-changing in much of the traveling, especially in urban mobility.
Responsibility for environment — This is another area of revolutionary change to the travel industry. We all know that the air pollution due to burning fossil fuel (such as in automobiles and aircraft travel) can lead to terrible quality of life (if you lived in Beijing China, you’ll definitely know this). The innovation in electrifying cars and airplanes will make a huge difference here. Of course, other sources of energy such as solar or fuel cell can also be innovation drivers. But I believe the electric vehicles will get there first, and automotive industry is leading the way there. It not only makes environmental sense, but also makes huge economic difference.

What do startups building next generation travel tech products need to understand about air transportation industry evolution and future opportunities?

I think the startups for travel tech products differ from the other startups (e.g. IT techs) is that the traveling industry involves “people”. When cars/ airplanes carry people, then the “safety” is the most important driver in the products design. Because of this, there are very stringent laws defined to govern the design requirements. These laws are still evolving as well, since many of the techs enabling these new products did not exist when the laws were written. So many of the startups (especially those who already have strong funding stream) are lobbying in DC and helping to define the regulations. I believe this is the biggest area of challenge that the startups need to understand — of course, this is also biggest area for opportunities too!

What are some of your favorite travel tech products, projects or innovation initiatives that the industry should be paying attention to?

I am biased here — I think the electric aircraft is the innovation initiative that the industry should pay attention to now. Take for example, Ampaire, our product will save the airlines current fuel cost (which is their biggest expense, up to 35% of total cost in some aircraft models) and the operating cost reduction for maintenance and support will also follow. Unlike the autonomous vehicles products, the demonstration path for safety would not be nearly as “long”. Also, the communities that live around the airport would really love the “quiet” takeoff and landings of these electric airplanes, in addition to the clean air to breath!

Warm welcome to Ampaire, see Susan’s keynote at Travel Tech Con 2018!