Airbus’ Digital Transformation Officer Marc Fontaine will take over as Acting Chief Technology Officer in the wake of the departure of Paul Eremenko at the end of 2017.
Fontaine, who already reports to Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders, became DTO in May 2016, responsible for all aspects of digital technology across the Group’s Divisions, as well as Airbus Group Corporate IT and the Cyber Security Programme.
The move reflects the fact that both the DTO and CTO organisations have been gearing up in parallel over the past two years and collaborate closely. A permanent solution is expected to be announced in the near future.
Fontaine began his career at Airbus Group in 1993, working in various roles in mergers and acquisitions, strategy and business development. In 2002, he became CEO of Istar, a digital technology company, before joining Eurocopter, the helicopter manufacturer, two years later as the CEO’s Chief of Staff. At the end of 2007, Fontaine was appointed as Company Secretary of Airbus, Airbus Group’s commercial aircraft division. He then became Chief of Staff to its CEO Fabrice Brégier, and member of Airbus’ Executive Committee. He was also the Chief of Staff to CEO Tom Enders between 2007 and 2012. He graduated with a degree in business from the EDHEC School of Management in Lille, France and holds an MBA from Aston Business School in the UK. He has set up a few small ventures in publishing and apps development.
On Eremenko’s departure, Enders said, “I am grateful to Paul for his service to Airbus. He initiated a challenging transformation of our approach to research, technology and innovation with, for instance, more open innovation and partnerships, the introduction of new methodologies, demonstrators and innovation centres. Airbus will continue to pursue the directions Paul pioneered to generate greater value in our processes, products and services, and ultimately for our customers. We wish Paul every success in his future endeavours.”
Fontaine’s appointment comes at an exciting time for Airbus, which recently announced a joint partnership with Rolls-Royce and Siemens to develop a near-term flight demonstrator — dubbed the E-Fan X — that will significantly advance the use of hybrid-electric propulsion in commercial aircraft.
The E-Fan X demonstrator will explore the challenges of high-power propulsion systems, such as thermal effects, electric thrust management, altitude and dynamic effects on electric systems and electromagnetic compatibility issues. The objective is to push and mature the technology, performance, safety and reliability enabling quick progress on the hybrid electric technology. The programme also aims at establishing the requirements for future certification of electrically powered aircraft while training a new generation of designers and engineers to bring hybrid-electric commercial aircraft one step closer to reality. Following a comprehensive ground test campaign, the E-Fan X hybrid-electric technology demonstrator is anticipated to fly in 2020.
E-Fan X is one of the exciting programmes among many other projects which are part of the Airbus’ blueprint for the future, with electrification, urban air mobility, autonomous design and digital manufacturing, connectivity and data analytics, as well as new business models.