Home INTERVIEWS Serdar ÇORA, Co-Founder of Aeros: “In the field of aviation, we are willing to establish ‘formation flight’ with companies that need our assistance to achieve their objectives.”

Serdar ÇORA, Co-Founder of Aeros: “In the field of aviation, we are willing to establish ‘formation flight’ with companies that need our assistance to achieve their objectives.”

by MSI-stajyer

Ümit BAYRAKTAR / ubayraktar@milscint.com
K. Burak CODUR / b.codur@milscint.com

Due to its standards and certification requirements, aviation is an area in which knowledge and experience make a big difference. All companies aspiring to work in the aviation sector, large or small, are lacking to a certain extent in this regard. In setting out to put its knowledge and experience at the disposal of the Turkish defence and aerospace sector, Aeros is playing a vital role in the sector. Serdar Çora, Co-Founder of Aeros; and Verda Çora, General Manager of Aeros, told us about the experience and background of Aeros, and explained how the company offers their services tothe sector.

MSI TDR: Looking at the entrepreneurship story of Aeros, one particular point stands out. Aeros is a vanguard company in which the founders, instead of repeating what they had done in their previous companies, set out on a brand new mission. Could you tell us about this mission?

Serdar ÇORA: In aviation, “formation flight” is a term, which can be described as the flight of multiple aircraft simultaneously for the same mission, by following certain rules, under the command of a formation leader. Military pilots use formation flight for collective defence and for the concentration of firepower.

Resembling the basic rules of formation flight, Aeros provides services to companies of all sizes in our country when there is a need regarding aviation especially in design and test topics.

Within this,we can describe one of the founding missions of Aeros to accelerate aviation companies and provide them leverage in achieving their goals. By this approach we aim to contribute to the creation of a strong ecosystem for aviation in our country.

We believe that the advances in military aviation in our country shall be reflected also in civil aviation. For this reason, another mission we have determined for Aeros is to use our experience to provide engineering services and product development in the field of civil aviation.

Aeros has developed a comprehensive training programme for Unidef that covers the design, testing and certification processes of aircraft systems, being applied over 24 full days, and involving approximately 3,500 slides, four case study analyses, a test instrumentation demonstration and hands-on training on an aircraft.

MSI TDR: A very solid background and experience is required to realise such a mission. What kind of experience and background does Aeros bring?

Verda ÇORA: As Aeros, we have the capabilities, experience and knowledge required for the development of any equipment or system according to aviation standards, and integration of them into any aircraft.

There is composition of different capabilities, experience and knowledge in Aeros’ core team of seven, the majority of which came from Turkish Aerospace – the cradle of aviation design capabilities in Turkey. The nationalisation of all Turkish Aerospace shares in 2005 was a very important milestone for the Turkish aviation sector. The senior management at Turkish Aerospace at that time set us, young engineers, the goals of

  • designing the first indigenous aircraft prototype by 2010,
  • delivery of that aircraft to customers by 2015,
  • and the exports of these products by 2020.

 These goals received significant backing from the Turkish state, and as a consequence, each member of the Aeros core team has been engaged in two or three large projects over a period of approximately 15 years. Turkey had a long way to fill the gap in aviation area, and there was no time to waste. To put it into perspective, today, engineers in other countries manage to fit only one project into such a timeframe while we had two or three.

In our projects, we have been involved in all processes, from kick-off meetings and project preparation phase, to the entry of the platform into use, and its sustainment during operational phase. We have learned from our own mistakes here and had a lot of chance to observe and learn how decisions taken at the beginning influence the following stages, at the end the success of the project. We have carried out projects for both Turkish end users and international aviation companies, and have progressed by documenting our experiences for future studies.

Another important facet of our experience is our familiarity and experience with the workings of all stakeholders in the game, including those of main contractors, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and international stakeholders as well as aviation authorities and users. As a team, we have gained critical experience by involving in projects on different sides of the table.

Turkish Aerospace has benefited us a lot and continues to lead our sector, but the sector also needs a company like Aeros. As such, guided by our experience, we set out in 2019 by undertaking the missions mentioned by Serdar (Çora).

Verda Çora General Manager of Aeros: As Aeros, we have the capabilities, experience and knowledge required for the development of any equipment or system according to aviation standards and integration of them into any aircraft.

Aviation Team and Organisation

MSI TDR: Can you tell us about Aeros’ core team?

Verda ÇORA: I am the General Manager of Aeros, while Serdar (Çora) is one of the Co-Founders, and also our Expert Engineer in charge of Flight Tests. We are a 100% domestic company. The other co-founder of our company is Özgür Nazik, whose commercial experience and vision support the growth and institutionalisation of the company. İrfan Altaş is our Head of Avionics/Electrical System Design; Umut Çimen is our Head of Structural Design, Analysis and Test Group; Fikri Akçalı is our Design Quality Director, and he is also involved in our projects in the UAV segment; and finally, Alp Tikenoğulları is our Expert Engineer in Aerodynamics and Thermal Analysis.

This core team has first-hand experience garnered from more than 20 national and international defence and aerospace projects, and they have been working together now for nearly 15 years. Everyone on the team is both friends and colleagues. Aside from our common aviation background, our friendship and strong communication also contributes to our ability to work very efficiently as a team.

MSI TDR: Could you tell us about the organisational chart, and how those titles are tied together?

Serdar ÇORA: As a purebred aviation firm and organisation, Aeros comprises the roles set by aviation standards, and this is where our job titles come from.

As Aeros, we carry out multidisciplinary projects with a small structure, rather than the matrix structure seen in larger companies. When a project comes to the table, the entire team can take on different roles specific to that project, and we determine these roles by matching the needs of the project with the past experiences of the team.

Having executive titles does not preclude personnel in Aeros from taking a hands-on role in a project. As with all start-ups, we carry out all the work, from the lowest level engineering activities to the highest-level managerial activities.

Serdar ÇORA: We can quickly support our core staff with other required areas of expertise if necessary. For example, we can enlarge our team exponentially in a very short time by calling on our partners with varying expertise. We can also engage experienced teams and companies that we have worked with in the past when necessary. For specialties that are not available in our country, we can bring in experts from abroad. To better emphasise our power in this regard, I can say that one company we cooperate with has over 16,000 expert engineers working abroad.

I should also emphasise the following point: As a team we have a very firm grasp of what is expected at every stage in an aviation project. We may not have the profound expertise to know every detail of each other’s work, but we have an idea of what is needed, why is needed and when it is needed. Based on this knowledge, we are very well aware about where to support our team prior to the key stages of the projects we are working on.

MSI TDR: What kind of gap does Aeros fill in the sector?

Serdar ÇORA: There is a solid knowledge base in aviation in Turkey, but this knowledge is mostly concentrated within institutions or organisation. Today, regardless of their size, any company which engages in engineering activities in aviation may need business partners to have “formation flight” with, and this is where Aeros comes in. Currently, there is no other company in the sector covering the whole of aviation like Aeros, nor with as much experience. In this respect, we believe we provide significant added value to the sector, and we will continue to do so.

Another important issue is the “civilian” side of the aviation, in which Turkey is in a very good place in terms of maintenance and repair, although there is much wasted potential when it comes to design. The complexity of some of the design works achieved in military aviation dwarf the ones in civil aviation. If we can bring this accumulation to the civilian side, a huge business potential awaits us, and as Aeros, we want to take advantage of this potential.

Looking to the future, we predict a number of systems being added to existing aircraft, and an increase in number of such new-generation platforms as electric VTOL aircraft, and so we are making preparations in this regard.

Serdar Çora Co-founder of Aeros: Today, regardless of their size, any company which engages in engineering activities in aviation may need business partners to “fly in formation” with, and this is where Aeros comes in. Currently, there is no other company in the sector covering the whole of aviation like Aeros, nor with as much experience.

Design Office of the Sector

MSI TDR: Aeros describes itself as a “design office”, which is a term that is not very common in Turkey. Could you explain this term to our readers, and what kind of services do you offer in this context?

Serdar ÇORA: While recently having entered to be used in Turkey, the design office concept is commonplace in Europe and the United States, where such institutions have been approved by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in the United States and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in Europe. Among the principal missions of a design office are fitting any device, equipment or munition to any aircraft, modifying aircraft, and even contributing with any necessary engineering services to the design processes of newly built aircraft.

A significant portion of the design process in aviation, specialty engineering fields– such as system and flight safety, reliability, maintainability and certification, we are also able to provide services in these areas.

These engineering fields are somewhat unique, in that they are only needed at certain stages of a project. It is not efficient for companies that do not carry out many consecutive projects at a time to hire employees in these fields. As such, large companies, as well as SMEs, need to outsource such services, and this is where we come into play.

Another Focus of Aeros is Testing

MSI TDR: One of the most critical stages in an aviation project is testing. What is Aeros doing in this field?

Serdar ÇORA: Since the test activities carried out in the aviation field take into account all of the critical conditions that the aircraft or systems may encounter during their lifecycle, these activities are of particular importance in aviation, and require expertise. As the Aeros team, we have significant international experience, particularly structural testing in the case of Mr. Çimen, and flight tests if I’m to speak for myself. We offer our knowledge and expertise to companies that are in need of such aviation testing services.

MSI TDR: The first thing that comes to the mind in companies that want to enter the aviation field is whether to undertake the necessary training or to go the consultancy route. What is the Aeros approach in this regard?

Serdar ÇORA: Training and consultancy are also among the services we can provide as part of our design office approach. If the company is working on a specific system, we can provide training specific to this system and the peripheral systems it has an interface with. In other words, we customize our training activities to the needs of the company and the scope of work. Rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach, we provide the appropriate and necessary training. We also use our training activities as an experience-sharing platform, given the considerable value that comes with the transfer of experience in aviation industry and our own.

In addition to training, we also support the process definition and development activities that are necessary for aviation. Adopting a “best practices” approach, we share our knowledge with a view to strengthening the business conduct of companies under “sufficient and necessary” conditions.

The Aeros team has worked on nearly 20 projects to date.

First Product to be Unveiled at IDEF’21

MSI TDR: We understand that Aeros has also been working on some productization projects. Could you tell us more about this?

Serdar ÇORA: We launched our first project with Unidef – one of the leading technological SMEs in our sector. UNIDEF is a company with serious export goals, and it is a common knowledge that in the international arena, there are certain aviation standards are expected to be met. We provided training and consultancy services to bring Unidef’s organisation and processes up to the necessary standards. We designed and carried out this process specifically for Unidef, in line with its needs, as mentioned before.

Now, together with Unidef and its partner Samsun Yurt Savunma (SYS), we are developing a product for the international market, and as the design office, Aeros is supporting the development process of this product. We aim to unveil the project to the attention of the sector at IDEF’21.

Aeros also conducts studies to reflect its experience in aviation to wider audiences.

MSI TDR: What would be your predictions of Aeros’ contribution to the Turkish defence and aerospace sector in the short and medium term? Can you make some numerical predictions?

Serdar ÇORA: We have many qualified companies in our country, some of which started with low volume production in fields other than aviation, and went on to production suitable with international standards. At a certain point, they set up design units to achieve the better. We are ready to support them in the aviation field.

What we really desire is for people to say, “Let’s get the opinion of the Aeros team!” when a topic related to aviation comes up. It makes us proud when companies who started working with us say, “We benefited immensely from working with Aeros!”

Unfortunately, talking about numerical targets is not that easy in the current period. You need to have very clear inputs to be able to say “We will reach a turnover of X in Y years” or “We will make a aircraft by year X”. In contrast to large aviation companies, small scale companies like ours can’t state this kind of liberty, or such inputs. The aviation sector is a very large ecosystem, and all stakeholders must operate at the same speed as yours in your works. For this reason, we have focused more on fulfilling the requirements of our roles. On the path to success, we have adopted progress through hard work and overcoming obstacles as a principle. In this way, we know that much greater success will come sooner or later.

We can, however, state very clearly that Turkey is carrying out ambitious projects, with the aim of indigenous development, where possible. With this motivation, the number of companies entering the aviation sector is also increasing, and we are ready to fly in formation with them.

MSI TDR: Do you have any message you would like to pass on to the companies working in the aviation field, or those considering projects in this field?

Serdar ÇORA: Briefly, we suggest they need to address exactly what is needed before starting work in a sector where there is no room for error, and to come up with the most efficient model to address such needs. At this point, I would like to say that Aeros is ready to share its experience and to give appropriate directions in accordance with the requirements of aviation, since knowledge and experience grow when they are shared.

Target is Export

MSI TDR: What are Aeros’ corporate goals for the future?

Serdar ÇORA: Our primary goal is to ensure that all of the design and testing services currently being sourced from abroad in both civil aviation and the defence sector, are provided in-house. In the following stage, we will endeavour “to export through mental labour”. We are ready to provide engineering services to such companies as Boeing, Airbus and SpaceX, and to carry out the integration of Turkish products for global giants. In this context, we are in negotiations and pursue our efforts to see our first export next year.

We also aim to procure our own hangar and aircraft to provide services better and independently.

In the coming period, we will undertake a mission to raise awareness, especially among successful students who are considering to seek careers abroad. We will engage in efforts to keep the potential of these young people present in the country, giving them the chance to see the capabilities and projects our country has to offer. We will achieve all of the above through the adoption of a controlled and sustainable growth plan.

Grand Achievements with Right Decisions and Close-Knit Teams

MSI TDR: Is there anything you would like to add?

Serdar ÇORA: We are often asked “What are your products?”, to which we answer “all of the products of the companies to which we provide engineering support”. We are continuing our efforts to support many such products in recent future.

We have a motto that we believe is valid for the entire sector: “Right decisions and close-knit teams bring grand achievements”. In our experience, all our noteworthy successes in the past are a result of right decisions and teams in a harmony, and we will continue to put our best efforts into achieving further successes in the spirit of this motto.

We would like to thank the Aeros team for taking the time to answer our questions, and for providing us with such valuable information.

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