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Is the BizJet Back?

We actually look forward these days to reading the latest reports on business aviation.

Suddenly, upbeat trends and optimistic analyses dominate. Case in point: this story singling out Bombardier Aerospace’s performance as a harbinger of better times. JP Morgan’s Aerospace & Defense unit, as reported by Aviation Week, says Bombardier’s 74 net business jet orders in fourth quarter 2010 is the surest sign yet of an upswing in business jet demand.

We’re hardly unbiased here. We’ve been working with Bombardier and its fractional provider, Flexjet, for years. We know from experience that they do things right. It’s no surprise to see them leading business aviation to a stronger position.

A New Era

From our Wichita-based perspective, we expect that success to continue and to carry over to the other major business aircraft manufacturers, including Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft.

Challenges remain. The ground has shifted. Growth is strongest in larger-cabin, longer-range aircraft – such as Bombardier’s Global 5000 and Global XRS – while demand remains soft for piston aircraft. But business aviation thrives on change – it emerges from each downturn even stronger than before. And it looks like that’s beginning to happen.

Fit Happens (And we’re glad it does)

Participating in the Wichita Business Journal’s first-ever Healthiest Employers awards has us more pumped than ever about wellness. (Which is really saying something.) We were jazzed to be among 25 local businesses nominated and honored at this high-energy, motivating event. It was great to mingle with and learn from other companies that make health a workplace priority.

The mix of small, medium and large-size businesses offered great insights to the variety of programs out there – and creative means to incentivize participation. Royal Caribbean’s program, for instance, includes a Wellness Warrior award to recognize employees’ achievements.High Touch enhanced its program to include not only physical but also emotional and financial components. The overall winner, IMA, offers a tiered-reward system based on participation, engagement and completion. It rewards team members with insurance premium reductions.

Staying the Course

At Greteman Group, we’ve learned you have to keep mixing things up to maintain interest. While we love our twice-weekly muscle-pump sessions, we’re looking forward to testing our rhythm with some Zumba classes. We’ll let you know how it goes. If nothing else, we ought to get lots of laughs out of watching each other do the steps. Though something tells me Sonia will pick it right up.

The iPad – It’s an Aviation Game-Changer

Just more than a year ago, Steve Jobs and Apple introduced the iPad to wide acclaim and a fair amount of head-scratching. Yes, many said, it’s pretty cool, but what will anyone do with it?

One respected market analysis firm predicted that Apple would sell four million iPads in the 12 months after its April release. A few days later, it cut that prediction in half, “after watching a replay of Apple’s iPad introduction and reassessing the device’s potential.”

By the end of 2010 – in just nine months – Apple sold 12 million iPads. That number is expected to triple in 2011.

Meanwhile, it’s become clear that the device, and the clones it is inspiring, will transform many industries, including newspaper and magazine publishing.

High-Flying Applications

But it’s also been the catalyst of a quiet revolution in aviation. Always early adopters of useful new technologies, aviation professionals paid no heed to analysts and simply forged ahead finding things to do with the iPad.

Already, it has become a common flight operations supplement and, just this week, won FAA approval for use by Executive Jet Management as an alternative to paper aeronautical charts. Not as a handy complement, but as the sole source for these critical flight references.

The iPad and other similar devices are making inroads in many other aspects of aviation as well, including a growing set of applications that keep track of engine and other data for flight maintenance departments.

Check back in a year – scratch that: check back regularly and often – to see what other aviation uses are coming along.

Keeping Consistent on the Splinternet

Developing a website has never been more schizophrenic. Today’s many emerging technologies simultaneously empower and challenge website owners, designers and developers in their quest to create an effective communication channel. With the recent proliferation of mobile and alternative, web-enabled devices (tablets, TVs and touch screens – “Oh my!”) the charge to deliver a website on today’s “splinternet” has become even more demanding.

The Web At Their Fingertips

Beyond differences in software, the way people interface with websites has recently undergone a major transformation. What we now call the “natural user interface” is quickly becoming the platform of choice for many of today’s devices. Popularized by the iPhone and similar products, people have begun to surf with their fingers, rather than a mouse and a computer. This has all kinds of unique implications for elements of web design – menus, buttons, text etc.

One Website, Lots of Ways To View It

Every unique software/hardware setup has its own way of rendering a website. A user on a Windows PC who is browsing the Internet using Internet Explorer will more than likely to see a slightly different version of the same website when compared to somebody browsing in Safari on a Mac.

Before a website launches at Greteman Group, we subject it to a litany of tests and tweaks, oftentimes resulting in several, slightly varied versions of the same site. Fortunately, advances in modern web coding have saved us from having to completely redo the site for each set of circumstances. Just a little bit of clever code and the same content can be repurposed across a broad spectrum of outlets.

Our rule of thumb: It doesn’t have to look exactly the same on every device (because frankly, it just won’t) – but it does have to look great and work well.

Creative ROI

I read somewhere that 50 percent of Super Bowl watchers are more interested in the commercials than the game. I know that’s certainly true in our office. At Greteman Group, in fact, that number could be considerably higher.

First thing post game day, our water-cooler talk revolves less around plays and more around what commercials hit the mark.

Sell It, Baby

Today most of the buzz centered around Eminem’s history-making, two-minute homage to The Motor City. (Who knew Detroit could look so amazing?) Bridgestone’s life-repaying beaver. The pint-sized Darth Vader revving up his parents’ Passat by channeling the “force.” The Ozzy Osbourne-Justin Bieber mash up for Best Buy. Budweiser-swilling saloon patrons belting out Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”

Now, about that Groupon spot spoofing celebrity endorsements. If monies truly go to help people in Tibet, we’ll cut it some slack. Otherwise, most of us found it quite tasteless. You can be creative without being crass.

Talk Isn’t Cheap

At $3 million for a typical :30 spot, you’re essentially looking at $100,000 a second. Just ask GoDaddy, which went from being a virtual unknown six years ago to being a leader in domain-name registration — and having some of the most talked about spots this year. Most advertisers say they experience more web traffic and business in the days following the game — but that it’s really all about building future value.

What was your favorite spot? Refresh your memory and cast your vote here:

Heli-Expo 2011: Accent on Safety

Heli-Expo 2011 Logo

The robust, tightly knit helicopter community will soon converge again on Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center. From March 5-8, more than 17,000 attendees and 600 exhibitors will be talking all things helicopter.

That always includes safety. The FAA has proposed a series of safety-related rules governing helicopter operations, including required implementation of safety management systems (SMS) and increased training requirements for inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IIMC).

While the new rules haven’t taken effect, savvy operators are preparing for the inevitable. They need to if the industry’s going to achieve its ambitious goal of reducing the helicopter accident rate by 80 percent by 2016.

The Safety Leader

Our client FlightSafety International, as always, remains well out in front on helicopter safety issues. It offers comprehensive, mission-specific training for IIMC, as well as a variety of training approaches to help operators set up effective SMS protocols.

FlightSafety promises to attract attention in Orlando with its Level 7 Eurocopter AS350 simulator. It’s the first to be equipped for night vision imaging systems (NVIS). FlightSafety plans to add NVIS training in its Bell and Sikorsky programs soon, too. The FAA released a safety alert in December 2010 warning operators that they weren’t properly inspecting and maintaining their NVIS, especially after undergoing modifications. As is usually the case, training holds the key.

Dallas Airmotive Grows its Rotorcraft Business

Another client, Dallas Airmotive, plans a striking presence at Heli-Expo as well, spreading the word about the stability it gains by being part of global aviation services company BBA Group. Certainly, safe operations rely on well-maintained engines. Dallas Airmotive remains the industry leader, a position it’s held since the 1930s.

For more information on the show and its events, go to