Category Archives: Blog

Air India’s engineering arm, Boeing launch AME programme

Air India’s engineering wing and aerospace major Boeing today jointly launched an apprenticeship programme for aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs).

The first class will commence in November at the Mumbai facility of Air India Engineering Service Limited (AIESL).

Students passing out from DGCA-approved AME institutes will be eligible to apply to the one-year programme and will have to appear for an entrance examination.

The key objective of the initiative is to improve employability of AMEs and address the huge gap between the lack of skilled workforce and their demand.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said at the launch event that “if this effort is successful we will be able to extend it to training of pilots and other sectors as well”.

IMaCS Comprehensive Skill Gap Report submitted to the ministry of civil aviation has highlighted that 72,900 technicians and AMEs will be required by the industry by 2035.

As per DGCA data, in the past five years there were 3,644 AMEs with basic licenses and only 159 AMEs who were licensed for specific types of aircraft.

In order to address this, the government is planning to take a slew of measures which include improving standards for recognition of AME-training institutes and a tie-up between these institutes and Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University to provide graduate degrees to these engineers, according to a government statement.

An interactive portal for registration, tracking, monitoring, and disseminating information is also on the cards.

Business Aviators – Is that all they are, or should be?

Before I began flying, I had the advantage of witnessing my father’s experience as an Air Force fighter pilot, first with collateral duties and then with what one might term as dual-duty. Now with thirty years aviation and 13,000 hours myself, I conclude that the answer to the question posed depends on the needs of the operation and the capabilities of the individuals involved.

Aviators are individuals, just as the purest business professionals; some want to only fly, fly-on, serve, or fix aircraft, just as some people only want to sell, keep books or work supply chain. The higher level question here is, “what does the operation need?” This need will differ not just from charter to private or airline operations. It will differ from company to company. The size of operation will not simply provide the answer either. For if the operation is small, dual duties may be the way of life. Then again, some smaller operations my be best suited to have individual duties until the scale of the operation lends to crossover.

This dilemma is no less than a strategic decision for senior leadership. It may even be deemed philosophical, or one of corporate culture. Whatever the case, true initial analysis must be preformed by the decision makers and reconsidered over time. With that, you might find that flexibility with your stance may lend to optimizations that will benefit your bottom line. Simple exclusion of the opinion of front line people has long been proven to be short-sighted. In this case, ignoring aviator input on topics other than flying of the aircraft, is no different.

Often times your aviators are the first representatives of your company. They can also be the first level of security or security breach (privacy). One other aspect that astonishes me, is that many aviators have served in the airlines yet are segregated from those making airline use decisions for a company. This is crazy, to me. Do you think that booking agents are a better source than aviators when it comes to certain airline’s reputations for safety? Many companies fly with whomever the booking party puts them on and never consults their own aviators.

Ultimately, senior leadership needs to decide what poses to provide the most benefit to the company. For those of us in “business”-aviation, I challenge you to integrate your aviation operation into the rest of your company. You use business aviation, not to “save money,” “but to make your company much more money than using business aviation costs you.” This is a very important point. It will help you gain an appropriate perspective. Getting the over-arching value of business aviation relative to your bottom line, will put the costs in a more fitting perspective. Then, for example, having your expensive aviators join your sales team training, will seem appropriate and affordable.

The extreme tests planes go through before taking off

In the past airliners never used to go through a series of tests before taking off but today they have to go through that. This is very important for airlines as this ensures that they are safe and no accidents occur. Aircraft on ground service is very important as it enables an aeroplane to take off easily and without any problem. Nowadays an aircraft has to go through a rigorous and elaborative test before being allowed to take off and this is very important as it has helped to prevent chances of accidents and careless taking off. Some of these extreme tests are:

Bending wings

Bending wings is one of the main tests that aircrafts are subjected to. Most of the modern airplanes today have the ability to flex their wings up to 90 degrees and this mainly happens during a test rig. Even the manufacturers have to do static tests to know how the wings behave when exceptional and normal loads. Getting the aircraft wings to snap is another test that they go through and it enables them to predict the best load level.

Lightning tests

In most cases commercial planes are subjected to lighting once or twice a year and do you know why this happens? Most of the aircrafts that are made of aluminium rarely experience lightning strikes as compared to those that are not made of metal. Some of the airplanes today are not made of metal as a way of saving fuel consumption and reducing weight. Such aircrafts are the ones that experience lightning strikes because of lower electrical conductivity. Some of the materials that are used to make aeroplanes need to be protected from lightning strikes because lightning strikes are very dangerous and can even cause death. Click here !

Hot and cold tests

Hot and cold tests are also very important tests that planes have to undergo through because they ensure that an aircraft engine is in good condition and is functioning properly. Manufacturers should ensure that they test engines in both freezing conditions and hot conditions. This is important because it makes it easy for aircrafts to pass through harsh weather conditions without having any mechanical problem that can cause engine breakdown. Good aircraft cleaning products should also be used to clean the aircraft and the engine so that it remains in good working condition. Planes are also tested at high altitude airfields to see how their engines are able to cope with such altitudes and whether they are likely to experience mechanical problems.

Virtual plane: Iron Bird

A digital way is used to test the modern aircrafts and this is through building of guts on the ground. This ground testing facility is very important as it stimulates an aircraft even before it take off. Iron birds are high tech aircraft system layouts that are put on the ground to stimulate the aircraft.

To conclude, these extreme tests are very important as they make it easy to know if there is any problem with the aircraft before it takes off and in this way accidents are avoided or reduced. Aircraft cleaning is also very important and it should be done in a professional way.

The Highly Evolved B.S. Meter of the 21st Century Consumer

Many of the people I work with are aviation professionals with military backgrounds. They have the most highly-evolved B.S. meters of any group of customers I’ve ever seen and they don’t bother to abbreviate the term.

This poses a problem for those of us in marketing who, if we know the history of our profession and are honest about it, are pretty well educated on the topic. We can quote volumes of case studies in the concept of B.S.

The Evolution of the B.S. Meter

Traditional marketing depends on getting the attention of a potential customer and convincing him or her to buy something. This used to be a pretty simple task. People believed the things that nicely-dressed spokespersons told them on the major T.V. networks, and believed the official-sounding pronouncements they read in the newspapers.

Watergate, Vietnam, Erin Brockovich, the house flipping phenomenon, Bernie Madoff, Goldman Sachs, “I can get you twelve thousand Twitter followers in 24 hours” and a million other shining examples of B.S., large and small, have caused distrust of government, corporations, institutions and marketing messages to become part of our cultural DNA. Our kids have evolved to the point where it’s hard to “sell” them on eating their vegetables and doing their homework. (Being parents, you see, we are part of the “establishment” and therefore presumed to be up to no good until proven otherwise.)

Of course, consumers don’t HAVE to believe marketing messages. Consumers have MANY choices for every possible purchasing decision. If one company gives us the slightest blip on the B.S. meter, there are plenty of alternatives to choose from.

It’s gotten to the point where it’s very difficult to convey even essential, valuable information because it’s hard to make people believe anything these days, even if it’s (gasp) true! Companies that haven’t invested in building trust with their perspective customers have trouble even giving away free samples or consultations.

Years of shady practices have caught up with corporations and marketing professionals, and if we want to sell things, we have to pay the price, even if we didn’t personally cause the problem.

Meters Giving Off False Positives (BS Detected)

The problem with these hair-trigger B.S. meters is that it has become difficult to convince anyone of anything.

Two years ago, it took a trusted friend and colleague three months of badgering to get me to quit building websites in HTML and start using a free program called WordPress, which has cut down the amount of time and money spent building and maintaining them to a fraction of what it once was. Why didn’t I switch sooner? Because it sounded too good to be true. My B.S. meter was lit up like a Christmas tree. It was setting off the alarm on a false positive.

B.S. Meter Tripwires (and how to avoid the false positives)

Fancy corporate vocabulary. Leveraging, monetizing, Adding “izing” to pretty much any word besides “optimizing” (in the search engine optimization category, of course) or using phrases like “best of breed,” “push the envelope” and “reinvent the wheel” are terms that can set off the meter, even when used by innocent and well-meaning companies or their marketing professionals.

The “business English” we’ve all been trained to use in memos and reports, unfortunately, is often the WRONG thing to include in marketing messages if we expect to be believed.

Overblown promises. My husband had a hard time getting a date when he was young and single because he (honestly) told women he liked to fly airplanes, scuba dive and ski. It seems women thought he was full of B.S. He was much more successful after he “toned it down” and started talking like a regular guy.

We’ve found that even the most scrupulously honest companies have a difficult time being believed if their promises seem over-the-top.

Hit and run marketing. The first advertisement you run, the first mailer you send out, the first trade show you attend is likely to be your least effective. This is especially true if the cost, time or risk factors involved with your product are high. The first reaction is likely to be “who the heck is the new guy?” We collected about a hundred leads at our first NBAA convention a year and a half ago, but NONE of those leads became clients until seven months later. Since that time, a lot of those leads have turned into great clients and referrers of clients. It took months of emails, newsletters, and articles like this one that eventually convinced them that we walk our talk. Or at least that we were persistent enough that they should give us a chance to prove it.

We’ve learned that it’s important to give clients or customers a low-cost, low-risk way to “test drive” your methods and philosophy. It’s also important to maintain a persistent, low-key “drip” of consistent marketing messages. We also use several different media, so that people hear from us by postcard, printed newsletter, magazine ad, and social media. Over time, prospective customers learn that we’re diligent, persistent, and going to be around for the long haul.

Being “inhumanly perfect.” Perfectly polished corporate messaging sends loud B.S. signals. If your website showcases all of your successes (which it should) but none of your challenges, you sound like that kid in school that got a perfect score on every test and was good at every sport. It’s hard to relate to, hard to be friends with, and for those of us who know ourselves to be all too human, hard to believe.

When Boeing received a drawing from eight-year-old Harry Winsor suggesting a design for an airplane that could “awesomely, double as a fire truck” their first response was to follow their process, perfectly. They sent young Mr. Winsor a form letter that said “Like many large companies, we do not accept unsolicited ideas.” Perfect response. Perfect, but not exactly warm, human, caring or appropriate.

Predicting the future of aviation

Aviation has always been one of the most innovative and fast-moving industries in the world. From the early beginnings of flight in the 1900s up until the introduction of today’s ultra-efficient commercial aircraft, significant progress has been made not only in form of air travel, but also the volume. Today, people are looking ahead to 50 years in the future and imagining what air transport might look like, with concepts such as electric aircraft and low-volume supersonic travel being credibly aspired to.

With such fast-paced technological development, it is unsurprising that ground-breaking, disruptive evolutions such as these are often predicted in the field of aviation. Indeed, this tendency to look towards the future has been around for quite some time. Back in 1966, the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) asked its experts to look forward 50 years in the future to 2016 and give their predictions for the state of air travel. While our own predictions for the next 50 years will for now remain a mystery, we can now look back at the sort of ideas were suggested and see if they bear any resemblance to today’s air transport environment.

In their enlightening article, ‘Visions of the future’, RAeS highlight some of these predictions. While some of them, such as man making the journey to Mars by the 1980s and nuclear powered aircraft, were wildly off the mark, others were remarkably prescient. The expansion of air travel, for example, was accurately foreseen, with air traffic levels expanding tenfold since 1966 and becoming relatively commonplace. The use of composite materials, particularly carbon composites, too, were accurately predicted. The latest generation of aircraft and engines all contain a certain amount of composite material, making aircraft lighter and engines more able to withstand higher temperatures.

Interestingly, some of the barriers to popular ideas such as single-person aircraft put forward in the 1960s remain true today, with one RAeS member fearing the thought of “tens of thousands of amateur pilots in a limited air space”.

So, the question now is what will the next 50 years hold for aviation? For our part, we foresee a far more environmentally friendly air transport network with even more efficient aircraft and engines (maybe even fully-electric), a consolidated air traffic management system, a lot more sustainable alternative fuel and more people enjoying the benefits of air travel. Watch this space!

Freeing up the skies in India

One of the main ways in which airlines can cut down on fuel consumption and the associated CO2 emissions is to fly the most efficient route possible. Ideally, every flight would take the most direct route, producing not only environmental gains, but a reduction in flying time and fuel costs for airlines. This, however, is often not possible, as many areas are reserved specifically for military use, excluding commercial aircraft from entering them.

Efforts to address this issue are being made in a number of parts of the world (see this case study in Aviation Climate Solutions on free-route airspace) and now it looks like India is due to follow suit. Indian airlines have been calling for flexible use of airspace for a while now, so a recent announcement by the Indian government confirming that the Airports Authority of Indian and the Ministry of Defence are collaborating to explore the proposal will be welcome news to these airlines.

At the moment, aircraft flying some routes need to make a detour over Pakistani airspace, adding unnecessary flight time. With roughly 40% of Indian airspace classified as military, the ability to cooperate with the Indian air force in utilising those skies will come as welcome news to airlines operating in the country.

The Indian air force and navy are currently assessing the security implications of instituting a formal flexible route airspace system, but if all goes well, then the skies above India are set to become a lot more efficient.