The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Mission Aviation Fellowship Conference Makes the Case for Electric Aviation

The Ecological and Electric Aviation Conference on March 10 provides more evidence of how interest in new types of aircraft is blossoming as more and more prospective stakeholders engage with so-called advanced air mobility (AAM). The online event is being organized by the Finnish branch of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), a worldwide Christian charity that operates around 130 aircraft to support aid programs in numerous developing countries.

The group wants to explore the potential for electric aircraft and other AAM technologies to make its work more adaptable and sustainable. MAF Finland CEO Janne Ropponen told FutureFlight that he also sees the event as a chance for his fellow Finns, and others, to learn more about efforts to reduce aviation’s environmental footprint and deliver air transportation in a more inclusive and sustainable way.

“Traditional aircraft will change and so we are closely looking at the new technology and how disruptive it could be, plus we want to take a stand in the fight against climate change,” said Ropponen. “In Finland, not too many people know about what is happening and they may want to be part of it and invest.”

The conference will include speakers from electric propulsion pioneers like MagniX and Rolls-Royce, as well as presentations by Airbus (on hydrogen propulsion), independent expert Darrell Swanson, eVTOL aircraft developer Lilium, airport group Finavia, and energy provider Neste. The event, which is jointly organized by the Helsinki Electric Aviation Association, will also involve politicians from several leading political parties in Finland.

“Although smaller aircraft generally don’t have such an environmental impact [compared with larger, long-haul airliners], it is smaller aircraft that are likely to change first,” said Ropponen, explaining MAF’s potential interest as an early adopter of electric aircraft. “As we say in Finland, the person who skies first leaves a track in the snow for others to follow.”

MAF, which started in the U.S. in 1945, has set up a working group to look at the potential for introducing electric aircraft to its fleet. “The need for the type of help we provide has not reduced and, in some cases, this new technology could improve operations in the countries where it is needed,” said Ropponen, who is also an Airbus A330 pilot with Finnair.

Registration for the Ecological and Electric Aviation Conference closes on March 5.