Technology continues to impact our sports in new, exciting and challenging ways. Here are some highlights.

CLEAN TECHNOLOGY

From electric-powered paramotors to solar-powered planes, the world of clean technology is coming to aviation. 2016 saw several clean-tech firsts, including Solar Impulse 2 completing its circumnavigation of the globe, and the first world record in the new field of Electric-Powered Planes, set by famous aerobatics pilot Walter Extra. As new technology continues to develop, including hybrid, electric, solar and battery-powered engines, the FAI is working continually to keep pace – developing and adapting its sporting code, accommodating new technology and creating new record categories. Finding ways to measure the performance of the new technology is also important, allowing meaningful comparisons to be made comparing like with like, and new technology with old.

ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITMENT

The FAI Environmental Commission recently updated the FAI’s Environmental Policy and Code. The aim of the Environmental Code is to raise awareness about environmental issues in air sports and to further sustainability measures among pilots and others involved in air sports. This is no mere ‘greenwash’ – it is a commitment to making sustained progress towards a cleaner, more sustainable future. The FAI Environmental Commission is responsible within the FAI for monitoring the impact of air sports on the environment, and for recommending action where we fall short. Promoting good environmental practice in the context of our sports is important for all of us.

SPACE, THE FINAL FRONTIER

Legendary cosmonaut Gennady Padalka was recently presented with a special FAI medal, for the amount of time he has spent orbiting the Earth. Padalka, 59, holds the FAI world record for the most amount of time any human has spent in space. A time-served cosmonaut he has five long missions to space stations under his belt: one to Mir and four to the International Space Station. Over the length of his five trips he has spent a cumulative total of 879 days in space. That’s 29 months in zero-gravity. Highly respected Padalka, who has been called “the ultimate Obi Wan” by his US colleagues in reference to the Star Wars films, has also executed a total of nine space walks outside the International Space Station, including several of five-hours duration.

DRONE TECHNOLOGY

The FAI put itself at the centre of the international discussion about drone technology and regulations. The excitement and ease of access has brought with it many challenges and questions. These range from how to introduce thousands of new drone pilots to air space. Working with air sports associations in its member countries the FAI is leading on dealing with sporting and regulatory aspects of drones. That includes developing rules to allow safe and fair competition, and the development of the first ever FAI World Drone Racing Championships, to be held in 2018.

The FAI International Drones Conference and Expo took place from 1 to 3 September 2017 in Lausanne, Switzerland, as part of the EPFL Drone Days.