The year 2020 will be remembered – not in the last place by the aviation community – as a year in which much of public life came to a standstill. Also PUCA has gone through rough times, catalyzed by the sudden illness of its chairman and driving force Hans Heerkens.
Hans’ and my paths crossed when I returned from TU Munich to the Netherlands this summer to start an assistant professorship at the University of Twente. I learned about PUCA, its network and objectives, and was caught by Hans’ inexhaustible enthusiasm about unmanned aviation. My academic background is in logistics and management science, whereas my link with aviation stems from a large private interest in flying (I have a private pilot’s license) and the aviation industry. PUCA is the hotspot where these two converge, and I am grateful for getting the opportunity to contribute to PUCA as new chairman.
Unmanned cargo aircraft are not only a technological goal to be realized, they are also a means to fulfill an important role in the complex logistics puzzles of the modern world and to provide transport (and stimulate economic and social development) in regions with scarce ground infrastructure. They are a mode of transport with unique benefits for logistics providers and society. It is key to study, establish, and communicate this role, to accelerate the adoption and development of UCA. Several initiatives have been taken already and by linking UCA to my research background I hope to add to this field that is equally exciting and promising. At the same time, I am grateful that Hans remains active as an advisor to PUCA, as his shoes are impossible to fill and I benefit from his expertise and experience in every discussion.
With the Online Unmanned Cargo Aircraft Conference coming up on December 8, I hope to kick start and revive PUCA’s activities and especially the meetings, realizing that it may take some time still before I can meet you in person. I am ready for departure, look forward to working with you, and hope to see you for example on December 8.
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