What We’re Made Of is a Q&A series that looks at how companies in the aviation industry are tackling challenges brought on by the COVID–19 pandemic. We’ve had to adapt to changes in where, when and how we work, but we are resilient. If you would like to share your experience, e-mail editor@apex.aero.

Edwin Edillon Jr.
Senior Director, Service Products, Safran
Location: Orange County, California
Day ? of working from home
Date of writing: May 7, 2020

Have you or anyone you know been directly affected by COVID-19?
I know of a few that tested positive for coronavirus, but only one progressed to COVID-19 and has since made a full recovery.

What news outlets are you following?
NPR, the Washington Post, and /r/Coronavirus.

Describe where your business was at the end of 2019. What were your goals/projections for 2020?
At the end of 2019, our business was strong, notwithstanding the challenges brought forth by the Boeing 737 MAX. For 2020, our goal remains similar to previous and future years — win significant new programs that drive our business and product forward, focus on culture, and deliver on our current commitments. We have new challenges needless to say, but we’ll approach them with the same vigor as any.

“Passenger expectations haven’t changed and airlines still want a competitive advantage with IFEC.”

What challenges has your business faced as a result of the outbreak?
We’re quickly learning how to work together virtually with the great tools at our disposal. Maintaining engagement, productivity, and strong communication under these circumstances is something we’ve always maintained as a core value.

Any tips on how to remain productive under these new circumstances?
Never underestimate the power of a good attitude. It’s easy to get down about things, but positivity, empathy and gratitude are needed more than ever for our converging home and work life. Additionally, we need to practice social distancing by wearing masks to protect those around us and good hygiene. Next, most of us have chatrooms, but we can go one step further with various online tools and software to enhance virtual communication and social distancing. If you’re a leader, finding ways to keep your local team engaged and motivated are your priorities. Lastly, if you’re working from home for the foreseeable future, make sure you’ve got a comfortable work area. Natural lighting, good tech and a comfortable chair goes a long way. Oh, and don’t forget good wellness practices like standing up, staying hydrated and going for a walk (with a mask).

How can we as an industry work together and rebound from this unprecedented crisis?
This industry is no stranger to crisis, and we’ve got the advantage of global unity and perspective. Airlines are rebuilding passenger trust with improved sanitary initiatives, booking flexibility and constant communication — all with an empathetic tone. Suppliers, like us, are adjusting our mindset to help solve these new problems both in the near and long terms. At the end of the day, we need to be empathetic about two obvious things: There’s been a loss of staff and a loss of revenue — for all of us. This means we should be precise and deliberate with the problems we’re solving.

How has the current situation driven innovation?
It remains to be seen. Innovation takes many forms, and right now, the best we can do as suppliers is solve the right problems. This could mean disrupting the content value chain, coming up with ancillary innovations to help with airline recovery, manufacturing our seatback displays with antibacterial materials, or balancing the IFE content to focus not only on entertainment but health and wellness, too.

How do you feel about your government’s response to the crisis?
I feel we’re doing everything we can to get through this crisis at the city, state, and national level.

Where do you see your company or the industry in six months? One year from now?
Passenger expectations haven’t changed and airlines still want a competitive advantage with IFEC. We will remain the best partner we can and solve the new challenges our airlines face through this crisis.

What’s one thing that will never be the same again for commercial aviation?
9/11 introduced new security measures and thus COVID-19 will introduce equally impactful sanitary measures and reduce density where possible. I do believe things will return to a leaner normal, and we’re hopeful that this will be sooner rather than later.

Read more about the coronavirus impact on the air travel industry, including APEX’s position on the matter, and subscribe to the APEX Daily Experience newsletter to stay up to date.