Developing a new system in an agile environment

By Rob Boyle, CTO, Caeli Nova

Successfully developing new technologies and systems takes time, dedication and drive. At Caeli Nova, we are creating products with life-saving benefits, which means they must undergo rigorous, intensive testing to ensure they are fit for purpose. This meticulous testing process presents many challenges and obstacles for our team of engineers and medical professionals, who have to be able to adapt and learn quickly to overcome them. In the building of our company, we have been laser-focused on creating an agile business environment which encourages the process of testing and learning; trying again to develop systems that will revolutionise the industries they are launched into, whilst maintaining high safety standards.

Our first product, Cordillera, is an innovative enhancement to the aircraft emergency oxygen system, protecting those onboard from hypoxia in the rare event of a cabin decompression. Understandably, the aviation industry is tightly regulated and any technology added to an aircraft must undergo an extensive approval process to certify its safety. Consequently, developing an aerospace product and launching it to market can typically take around five years or longer. 

We saw a real need for a system like Cordillera to enable the aviation industry to overcome the existing limitations when operating the planet’s most challenging routes, such as those over high terrain regions. We identified early on the potential for Cordillera to open up the most optimal direct routes for aircraft operators and deliver significant cost-savings with a reduction in fuel and carbon emissions.

Having identified this gap in the market, we were eager to launch Cordillera as soon as we possibly could. We were told by industry experts that achieving EASA Design Organisation Approval alone could take three years, but our highly experienced aerospace design team rose to the challenge of accelerating this process. 

Taking an agile approach to developing a new system does not mean rushing or skipping steps. A classical aerospace design philosophy may not discover critical problems until much further into the  process, leading to downstream product development delays. However, our agile methods have enabled us to discover problems early and significantly reduce the development timescale.

The Caeli Nova patented breathing technology has potential to be applied to technologies for many other industries and our team of research and development innovators is already looking ahead to our next project. We learnt incredibly valuable lessons in the creation of Cordillera and we are confident that our agile ‘test and learn’ approach to product development will enable us to produce disruptive, groundbreaking, extensively-tested technologies in record time.