PMI Bangalore Chapter

PM Guest Article August 2021

E&C PM Footprints
Aerospace Program Management Practices, Challenges and Trends

Hardik Someshwar

Mr. Hardik Someshwar is a Senior Manager Projects at Collins Aerospace. He has about two decades of experience in Project, Supply Chain, Quality, and entrepreneurship with International Clientele and Fortune 500 Companies in the Aerospace and Automotive Industries.

This article is an excerpt from the 66th E&C PM Footprint session that was held on 10th July morning.

Our Guest Speaker was Mr. Hardik Someshwar. He shared insights on Program Management, Practices, challenges, and trends from his rich experience in the aviation industry.

Brief Overview of Collins Aerospace: Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies subsidiary, is one of the world’s largest suppliers of aerospace and defense products, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. Speaker shared the journey of Collins in India. It started in 1997 when BFGoodrich Evacuation systems repair began, In 2014 the first airworthiness certified product was shipped and there was a move towards complete product ownership. From 2019 till now new sites are being opened. Roughly 4500 employees in the Bengaluru campus spread across engineering and operations functions.

Aerospace Industry uniqueness: Aerospace is one of the largest industries in the world. Its uniqueness can be highlighted through themes like Time to Market, globalization, complexity, safety, budget/cost, and technology. Quick Poll from the audience reiterated how safety is of utmost importance and of special focus for this industry.

Time to Market: It is a long cycle business, the product life cycle runs into multiple years. Challenge is in utilizing lean product development to shorten this cycle.

Globalization: In the supply chain context, aerospace involves worldwide partners. It is truly a global industry. Challenge is managing various cultures, regulations while ensuring IP protection. Collaboration is key to success in this context.

Technology: Technological advancement is pushing the boundaries. Startups with new technologies are disrupting this industry for example a German company offering flying taxis, Or with the arrival of supersonic aircrafts flying time is getting compressed. However, each technology has to go through the required testing levels and standards.

Safety: Speaker shared an interesting statistic on how flying is even safer than driving where 1 in 188364 is likely to die from an air crash as opposed to 1 in a car crash. There is a continuous and constant focus on safety in this industry.

Budget/ Cost: Capital Intensive programs are involved in this industry for e.g. it took 32 bn dollars to build the Boeing 787. On the expenses front, about 32% share is of Fuel followed by operations and maintenance.

Program Management:

Program Manager in this industry works with all functions to deliver value. Program managers are Value stream leaders with P&L accountability. The first job a program manager does is strategic planning i.e. what should we be doing in the next 5 years. The program manager is responsible for the entire gated development process starting from the bidding proposal. Field issues are also handled by the program manager. The Program Manager holds End-to-end accountability with comprehensive planning due to the amount of complexity involved. While Risk and opportunity management is integral to all program management processes, For aerospace unique is its sheer focus on standards and compliance with quality. In addition to program management skills, aerospace domain knowledge and experience in various roles are desirable.

Program Management Challenges/Trends:

Mergers & acquisitions:

This industry had M&As worth 107bn$ in 2019. There are product, capability, market, geographic expansions happening. Thus Integration management is a challenge. Collaboration with startups has to be managed efficiently as new players are coming into the market. Program Management has Lot of system-level responsibilities.

Talent Management:

This industry has a significantly aging workforce. In many cases, aerospace is not the first choice for new employees and the challenge is to attract new talent.


Defense, however, has been a steady market However on the Commercial side it is evident that there has been a significant drop in passenger traffic due to the pandemic. Managing Cash Flow, margin, etc. is quite challenging, however, it is a resilient industry. Through Rightsizing, it is trying to position itself for long-term growth.

Lean Product Development System:

Due to the complex nature of the programs Hybrid Agile Models are being adopted, Scaled Agile is also being applied largely. There is also extensive adoption of six sigma for superior predictable quality.

Mobility disruption:

Lots of startups are disrupting the industry. E.g. in urban air mobility Uber has become a competitor through its air taxis.

Portfolio rebalancing:

In order to keep up with leaner agile startups, Large programs may give way to smaller programs. There is also a shift in sales contribution, with an increased share for the defense segment.

Digital Thread:

Just like other industries, Digital technologies are disrupting this industry in areas like additive mfg. Advanced robots, industry internet, simulations, cloud and cybersecurity, big data and analytics, AE/VR , horizontal and vertical integrations. Element of industry 4.0.- to identify maintenance issues in advance . Robots are coming but as compared to the automotive industry volumes are small. E.g. cloud journey recently started due to slowness in ensuring safety concerns like data security.

Office of future:

As applicable for all companies, remote working is being adopted. However, due to specific constraints, a hybrid model would be the way to go for aerospace. There are attempts to reduce the physical office footprint though

The entire focus of program management is to ensure the customer experience. E.g. SouthwestAmazon thrived due to their constant focus on superior customer experience.