The next instalment of our Executive Profiles is now live! This time, we put the questions to Mark Robert Henning, Managing Director at AutoFlight Europe.
We started these interviews as an informal way to get to know the industry’s thought leaders, innovators and influencers. Everything from their favourite bit of advice, book and holiday destination, to their top three challenges for the market and the biggest development to happen this year.
If you’re working in the industry and would like to be featured in these interviews, we’d love to hear from you! Please email email@example.com and one of the team will get back in touch.
Favourite holiday destination?
The Alps (Austria and northern Italy) offer breathtaking scenery and endless opportunities for outdoor activities, from skiing and snowboarding to hiking and mountain biking. I love being surrounded by nature and the fresh mountain air.
Favourite book or film?
That is a tough one. For films, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy has always been a favorite of mine for its epic story, stunning visuals, and unforgettable characters. As for books, I have too many favourites to choose from, but Robert Harris’ Imperium stands out for its gripping plot and vivid depiction of ancient Rome.
Best bit of advice you’ve been given?
Sei gelassen und rücksichtsvoll, stark und entschlossen! (that was in German: be calm and considerate, strong and determined!) This advice has helped me navigate difficult situations with a clear mind and a firm sense of purpose.
If you could invite three guests to dinner, alive or dead, who would they be and why?
I would invite Henry Kissinger for his insights into international diplomacy and history, Christine Lagarde for her leadership and expertise in finance and economics, and Peter Sloterdijk for his philosophical perspective on the challenges facing society today.
As a classic car enthusiast, I have a soft spot for the Ford Mustang convertible, particularly the late 60s model. It’s a timeless symbol of American muscle and style.
Describe AutoFlight in five words?
Agile, innovation-driven, design-leading, determined, safe. These values underpin everything we do at AutoFlight and guide our pursuit of excellence in the eVTOL industry.
What is AutoFlight’s vision for the eVTOL and UAM market?
AutoFlight aims to be one of the top three eVTOL OEMs, revolutionising urban air mobility with safe, efficient, and sustainable solutions that transform the way people travel and live.
How are developments coming along?
Good! We are making progress on all fronts and are on track with our plan. The next exciting phase will be building and flying our conforming prototypes. I am confident that with our strong team and innovative concept, we will continue to excel in this exciting field.
Proudest moment at AutoFlight so far?
My proudest moment at AutoFlight was when I was invited to join the team. It’s an honour to work with such talented and dedicated individuals who are driving the future of urban air mobility. However, more recently, we achieved an incredible milestone that made me and the entire company incredibly proud. Our full-scale demonstrator aircraft set a new world record by flying 250.3 km on a single charge, which has never been achieved by any other eVTOL company.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My typical day starts early, with calls in the morning with colleagues in Shanghai to align our global team. Throughout the day, I check off tasks, collaborate with experts, and focus on key topics that require my attention. I make time for a team lunch and finish the day with calls to my US colleagues. After dinner with my family, I often head to the gym for a workout.
Most interesting story about the industry that you’ve read?
One of the most interesting stories I read recently was about the use of blockchain technology in the aviation industry to improve safety and efficiency in air traffic management. By creating a secure and decentralised system for storing and sharing data, blockchain has the potential to transform the way aircraft communicate with ground control and other stakeholders.
Top three challenges for the industry?
The top three challenges for the industry are setting up the ground infrastructure for advanced air mobility, scaling the ATM solution in urban areas, and enabling 24/7 operations in all weather conditions. These challenges require significant investment in technology, infrastructure, and training.
However, the potential benefits of eVTOLs are enormous, including reduced traffic congestion, improved air quality, and enhanced mobility for people and goods. At AutoFlight, we are committed to working with our partners and stakeholders to overcome these challenges and help realize the vision of a safe, sustainable, and efficient urban air mobility ecosystem.
Where do you think the industry will be in the next five years?
Over the next five years, we can expect significant growth and progress in the eVTOL industry. The first good eVTOL companies will achieve certification with relevant aviation authorities such as FAA and EASA. This will pave the way for the deployment of commercial operations, which will bring eVTOLs to life and transform the way people travel and live.
We will see the first operations in innovative cities and countries that have developed the ground infrastructure to support advanced air mobility. Additionally, eVTOL OEMs will start to consolidate, with only the strongest and most innovative players remaining commercially viable. By 2028, I expect to see ten or more eVTOL OEMs operating commercially with thousands of eVTOLs in service around the world. Overall, it’s an exciting time to be part of the eVTOL industry, and we look forward to driving progress and innovation in the years to come.
How can people get in contact with AutoFlight?
At AutoFlight, we welcome all inquiries and feedback. You can reach out to us through any media, whether it be email, phone, social media, or our website. However, we believe that the best way to connect with us is through a good old-fashioned phone call.
Biggest industry development you think will happen this year?
It’s hard to predict the biggest industry development of the year, but there are several exciting areas to watch. In renewable energy, we may see significant advances in storage systems that allow for more efficient and sustainable energy use.
In AI and robotics, there may be breakthroughs in autonomous navigation and safety systems that could benefit the eVTOL industry. And in medicine, we may see the industrialisation of gene editing technologies that have the potential to transform healthcare. Regardless of the specifics, we are excited to be part of an industry that is constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible.