Innovation to save lives

Airbus spotlights its relationship with the international Red Cross in bringing new solutions to humanitarian aid

The advanced research of Airbus Innovations makes a difference for people – even beyond its typical applications in Airbus’ products.

Airbus Innovations, the Airbus Foundation and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have formed a partnership to find new innovative solutions for humanitarian aid.

Airbus’s global research and technology network is coordinating an effort to investigate applications of cutting-edge aerospace skills and expertise that could help humanitarian organizations save lives in disaster situations.

With the goal of finding new solutions in emergency relief, Airbus Innovations, the Airbus Foundation and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have formed a unique partnership, which was highlighted during a briefing at the Farnborough International Airshow this week. 

The innovation approach for humanitarian aid

"As soon as we started exploring potential technologies that could support humanitarian relief, there was a significant response from within Airbus Innovations and across Airbus’ three divisions. We want to improve the world!”

Sébastien RemyHead of Airbus Innovations

“All of our people want to be a part of something that improves the world,” said Sébastien Remy, the Head of Airbus Innovations. “Any way our technologies can support the reduction of time for delivering critical relief and workload for emergency responders – so humanitarian services are safer, quicker and more efficient – is something we need to explore.”

The three organizations have formed a unique partnership that has been working together since last year to identify areas to improve the humanitarian community’s efficiency when responding to disasters.

As the technological hub of Airbus, Airbus Innovations is coordinating the search for potentially promising technological areas. Based on initial proposals from a wide range of capabilities from across the Group, three initial focuses have now been identified for collaboration with the humanitarian community:

  • Medium-range, light-payload cargo drones
  • Disinfection and decontamination to control prevent disease outbreaks
  • Cooperation to use satellite images that may provide critical information

Together we can do more

Sébastien Remy, Head of Airbus Innovations, said the Group is always looking for ways to improve the world.

“It is something that blows my mind that a technology designed for the International Space Station can be delivered to a hospital for vulnerable people on the ground after an earthquake,” said Christine South, Senior Global Disaster and Crisis Response Manager for the IFRC. “I think it shows the wealth of the partnership.”

South noted that because of the critical nature of responding when people’s lives are at stake, the humanitarian community tends toward “tried and tested methods” and avoids higher risk approaches. Partnering with outside organizations is an effective way relief organizations can leverage outside skills and expertise to find new solutions, while continuing to focus their resources on their core function of providing critical services.

“We see many areas where our Group’s business activities and the Airbus Foundation can directly support the humanitarian community in becoming more efficient and finding innovative solutions to the challenges they face,” said Andrea Debbane, Executive Director of the Airbus Foundation.

More about the partners

Airbus Innovations promotes cutting-edge technologies and scientific excellence that contributes to progress and delivers solutions for the Group. It is organised into five transnational Innovation Centres, covering: materials, structures & manufacturing; automatic flight & communication; energy, propulsion & aerodynamics; data driven technologies; and concepts & industrial design, along with a policy and development function that includes all support activities.

The Airbus Foundation is the “heart” of the Group – with a role to broker relationships between its customers, partners, suppliers and the non-governmental organization community for the greater good. Since its launch in 2008, it has facilitated more than 47 goodwill flights and transported 630 tons of aid.

As the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has more than 17 million volunteers that assist vulnerable people in 190 countries. The IFRC responds to disasters worldwide – from local floods to major earthquakes – reaching more than 150 million people a year.