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Is that it, Michael? October 29, 2009

Posted by supersonicswan in Swan Lake.
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Every industry has its legend, that mythical person that will surface sooner or later in any conversation. For aviation – especially for its low cost branch – Michael is just that. There is a general agreement of sorts that he’s the bad boy but at the same time everyone adores him and would like to be just the same when they grow up – just as clever.

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Three, two, one… SOLD! (at a loss) October 23, 2009

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Come Friday and I finally have a while to scribble something again. Meanwhile, we had some big announcement this week in the South East, hadn’t we? Without any doubt, the aviation headline of the week was the long-awaited sale of Gatwick airport.

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The magic of social media… October 13, 2009

Posted by supersonicswan in Swan Lake.
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Like a semitransparent web shimmering between the zeros and the ones of binary system, social is everywere now. How many times did you connect to Facebook today? How many tweets did you send off? How many times retweeted something?

So please, don’t tell me it is not.

Which is fine with me – it’s saved up some time for me I would have otherwise spent mulling over the subject of my dissertation. And fair enough, I’d said. With the (should I really call it this way?) explosion of Web 2.0 & perpetual increase of pressure on networking as well as community development (which I assume is semantically different from pure mean-ish networking), social media turned out to be something else. Something more.

Or (depending on your scepticism levels) yet another platform for the same. As for me, in order to not to negate the very point of my dissertation I will stick to the “something more” line.

That sonner rather than later businesses of different sorts would become inquisitive about how to exploit social media for their own goals, was rather obvious. That airlines would do so remains at the less-so-obvious side though. But they did!!!

Well, some of them at least…

And as I will very soon post more on the who, what, when and how aspects, at the moment I just want to make several remarks on carriers that have engaged in Web 2.0:

1. (as far as my perception goes) they have already had very good customer relations and going social only added up to it;

2. they are mostly young innovative airlines or ones that are percieved this way by the customer so being on Web 2.0 perfectly fits into their brand;

3. they are enjoying the WOW effect (the competitive edge, they call it) which we will see dilluted with the time passing and more airlines joining the game;

4. (because A1 jet fuel doesn’t come for free) they are trying to use Web 2.0 not only to engage the customer in the brand in the context of brand sharing & loyalty but also in pure money terms (an extra distribution channel).

Ergo, it seems that innovation in the usage of Web 2.0 is not for everyone and the only thing that has been proved so far is that it enhances your airline’s image as long as it had been concieved along the creativity, innovation & customer service lines in the first place.

Now imagine you are BA or FR. Odds are your opponents would eat you alive.

What are your thoughts on social media and their business application? Are you a social freak? Do you follow the aviation crowd in Web 2.0? Do you think Web 2.0 is important for the airline business?

Bouncing ideas October 14, 2008

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A third-rate mathematics student knows more about nature and its laws than did Pascal or Descartes. Is he capable of the same agility of thought?” (A. de Saint-Exupery)

People tend to lead lives deprived of meaning, what doesn’t disturb them in thinking themselves the earth. Very rarely will you come across a personality whose life story is simply inspiring – they not only know for the sake of knowledge but are also skilled enough to implement that knowledge in life. Due to their insightfulness they seem to be way ahead of their times.

One of such persons is (although should be ‘was’) George Edwards OM, one of the most important players in British post-war aeronautical industry. The position he achieved was owed not only to his technical skills but also managerial acumen and unbelievable forsight. Help yourselves to a few examples:

In September 1939, Hitler’s Germany widely implemented anti-shipping magnetic mines that were laid down across the Thames Estuary. Having in mind a chilrens’ roundabout, Edwards constructed a 48ft-diameter aluminium ring encasing an electromagnetic coil and woul be fitted around  a Wellington bomber and attached to its bottom. Current of 500V, sufficient to detonate the bombs, would be produced by a fuselage-housed generator and then supplied to the ring.

Although it was Barnes Wallis to invent the brilliant concept of bouncing bombs, Edwards facilitated its development. As a cricket lover he knew well about the properties of a spinning ball and that back-spin, when successfully applied, enable the ball to skid and bounce higher than normal on contact with the surface.

And below the Dumbuster raid by Avro Lancaster of 617 Sqn. RAF depicted. In May 1943 the hydroelectric dams in the Ruhr valley were destroyed.

After the war Edwards worked on several important projects such as Viscount, V1000/V7 (project of a military tanker and civilian airliner derieved from thereof that would have been able to cross the Atlantic in one hop long before the B707 was was even conceptualised; later scrapped what Edwards condemned as “one of the greatest technical and economic blunders of our times”), BAC One-Eleven twinjet and Concorde.

Also, he had a good nose for civil servants calling them “too fickle and short-sighted to be trusted to support costly, high technology products”.

Uff… The authorised biography by Robert Gardner (“From Bouncing Bombs to Concorde”) is a page-turner and I highly recommend it to anyone in need of inspiration.