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Fields of Green and Skies of Blue

Each April, Earth Day reminds us to be good stewards of our environment. Not just for ourselves, but for generations to come. In spite of the economic challenges the aviation community has been battling, it continues to push forward on green initiatives, particularly emissions and noise.

With greater awareness come heightened expectations that whether you’re selling aircraft, providing aftermarket services or running an FBO, you’re doing so in an Earth-friendly way. Reducing. Reusing. Recycling. Switching out energy-gobbling incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents. Building LEED-certified or LEED-informed facilities. Increased training through simulation. Making green an element of ongoing corporate social responsibility programs.

Taking Action Together

Leaders within the aviation industry are publicly declaring that they want to take environmental concerns to the next level. BBA Aviation family members Signature Flight Support and ASIG are shifting to eco-friendly ground-handling equipment through the use of clean natural gas and, in some cases, solar power. Qantas and British Airways are among those ramping up the buzz surrounding biofuels. Boeing, Airbus and Embraer recently announced plans to collaborate on affordable and sustainable new jet-fuel sources.  Boeing and Al Nippon Airways just flew a 787 Dreamliner using a biofuel blend – the first biofuel flight over the Pacific Ocean.

The Aviation Green Alliance, part of the Lindbergh Foundation, brings stakeholders together to address aviation’s environmental challenges. It welcomes all aviation-related companies and individuals committed to proactively addressing shared environmental concerns. Its founding members include Bombardier Aerospace, Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft, Jeppesen, FedEx, Fantasy of Flight, Sikorsky Innovations and BRS Aerospace.

This week as we reflect on and celebrate the aviation industry’s green advances, we also rededicate ourselves to keep building on these successes. Developing environmentally sound solutions is not just the right thing. It will make us all breathe easier.

Not part of the Alliance, but want to be? You can learn more at

Originally published in the 26 April 2012 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News

Aviation Marketers Have Reason to Believe In Mobile

In an industry such as aviation – where everyone from pilots in the cockpit to CEOs in the cabin are connected to their smartphones 24/7 – mobile’s going nowhere. But up. For now, though, mobile advertising requires a leap of faith. One backed by some intriguing indicators.

If you own a smartphone, you’ve seen mobile ads a time or two (thousand). Most of us just wait out the obligatory three seconds to skip past and get back to “Words With Friends,” or the next song. As prevalent as mobile advertising is, the services have yet to spin straw into gold. The recent Wall Street Journal article “Riches in Mobile Ads, Just No Profits” pointed out that mobile ads drew less than 1% – about $1.45 billion dollars of total ad sales. Consumers’ love for Pandora and Instagram has yet to translate to solid financial performance.

Faith Backed by Promise

Signs point to an upward trajectory. In 2011, venture capitalists channeled $5.8 billion into mobile industries. That amounts to almost 42% of all of technology investments.

In March 2011, Millennial Media’s initial public offering reported revenues of $103.7 million with a loss of $287, 000 – a marginal sum since the company’s valued at close to $1.4 billion. The real value is potential reach: the total number of users and how often ads can be exposed to them.

Facebook just purchased Instagram for $1 billion dollars – in spite of only 40 million users, no revenue stream, and no plans to create one. Previously only available through Apple’s user platform, Instagram’s now available on the Android market, potentially doubling its user base. The real test will be if Instagram’s purchase adds value to Facebook’s upcoming IPO.

Pandora, a popular music streaming service for both mobile and PC usage, operates under a free, and premium subscription service. Under the free service, consumers are exposed to both banner and audio commercial advertising. The premium service limits the exposure primarily to screen ads. Mobile usage has gone from 55% to 70% of total listener hours. Pandora reported that mobile makes up 45% of its advertising, but it only sells 20% to 25% of its total available ads. Compare this to the 80% PC-based service it sells.

The Takeaway?

It is not actual revenue but potential revenue that serves as the basis for these companies’ valuations and charges. It’s not just venture capitalists who believe in the power of mobile. Savvy marketers do, too. Mobile ads offer unrivaled potential reach to consumers on the go. And no industry is more on the move than aviation.

Politicians Can Teach Aviation Marketers a Thing or Two

Sen. Pat Roberts, a longtime friend of the aviation industry and the Air Capital

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts captivated the Wichita Aero Club when he spoke to the group Wednesday. It wasn’t just that he was preaching to the choir, which he was. Or that he honed his speech to key hot-button issues, which he did. Roberts – like many politicians – is a master of simplifying complex issues with words that resonate. And stick. Because they’re not just words. They’re unexpected pictures that create a little story.

Frequent references to President Obama and the current administration included statements that they’re beating up on private aviation owners like piñatas. That aviation’s being made into a tar baby. How, in regard to bonus depreciation, it’s time to don the war paint and saddle up. And he’s going to ride shotgun. (I won’t be getting the image of a gun-wielding, steed-mounted senior senator out of my mind anytime soon.)

Where’s the Humor? The Storytelling?

Flip through the ads in an aviation publication and what do you see? Generic, flaccid, overused language. “Solutions you trust.” “Service you deserve.” “Reliable, accurate and top performing.” “Unmatched in its class.” “Highest levels of safety.” “Anytime. Anywhere.” “Commitment to excellence.” You could be talking about any company, any service. Fill in the blank. “The incredible [blank].” “Have the [blank] of your dreams.”

You can discuss serious issues and communicate real product benefits, but still connect on a human level. For instance, Sen. Roberts said Canada – with its 16 percent tax rate, subsidies, R&D tax credits and more – might entice U.S.-based companies to relocate north. He got a big laugh when he added that he hoped businesses wouldn’t take the bait. “It’s cold up there.”

Sen. Roberts kept members attention throughout his speech. And, while he made it entertaining, he made his points. That 90 percent of our nation’s airports don’t even offer commercial flights. That more small business owners fly privately than do corporate fat cats. That business aircraft user fees will hurt the industry.  

Watch and Learn

As the upcoming election moves into full swing, listen to not just what the politicians are saying. But how they’re saying it. Your sales team might thank you later.

My Heart Belongs to Egypt

Egypt and her people, the art, the Nile, the revolution.

Since my first art history class more than 30 years ago, I’ve had a love affair with Egypt. The art, architecture, gods, creativity and adornment captured my imagination. Now I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m Queen Nefertiti reincarnated – like our National Geographic guide says many visitors do – but I do have an awe-inspired connection to this one-of-a-kind culture.

After planning the trip three times, finally this year it happened. Various friends thought we were crazy to go. Last year we were walking out the door on the way to the airport when National Geographic called to cancel the trip for the first time in its history. The government had taken down the Internet and Tahrir Square was in the middle of a full-blown uprising.

After the Uprising

Now one year later, the country is in a state of flux, its future uncertain. Tourists are keeping their distance, fearful it’s not a safe travel destination. It is. We witnessed a country hungry for tourism dollars and a people ready to build a democracy. If media hype causes us to avoid Egypt, we rob its people of their livelihood while cheating ourselves out of seeing some of the world’s most impressive wonders.

So my advice is, go to Egypt. Now. It is a fascinating time to visit. You not only have a firsthand, front-row seat to every major attraction, but a glimpse into a country on the verge of change. We toured The Temple of Karnak at Luxor, and in place of its usual 300 tour buses, there were a lonely three. This translates into no lines, and plenty of time to investigate, explore and absorb.

Traveling the fertile Nile valley or exploring the temples and tombs, my husband, a sculptor, marveled at the miles and miles of granite sculpture, the mind-blowing scale, the beauty of detail and the pure ambition of the works. Being a graphic designer, I soaked in the elegance of the color palettes relying on the hues of natural stones including blue lapis, red coral and turquoise. The plaster fresco paintings, sophisticated beyond imagination, revealed elaborate subjects and creative stories representing the origins of the gods.

The Road Less Traveled

If you like lying on the beach and sipping margaritas, this trip is not for you. But if you like to get outside your comfort zone and drink in a truly foreign culture, consider it. The sounds, sights and smells of the street include the Muslim Call to Prayer five times a day, echoing the melodic Arabic language throughout the city, the colorful and severe Hajjibs and Abayss (headscarves and long dresses) and delicious and plentiful vegetarian selections of falafel and Baba Ghanouj. We’ve never eaten so well.

One morning we were blessed to have a young revolutionary talk to us. She spoke passionately about the organizing force behind the revolution – the Facebook campaign that rallied people to Tahrir Square. She explained the mood as electric with middle-class families and friends singing, eating, hugging, camping, cajoling and joining together with a common goal: to create a united front for transformation, desperately needed and within reach. She proudly, tearfully stated that she had recently voted for the first time in her life.

A Warm Welcome

We felt appreciation from the Egyptian people everywhere we traveled, from the city of Cairo to the village of Abu Simbel. They were quick to thank us for visiting and believing in them. They asked that we be ambassadors and tell the world to please come back to Egypt.

As members of an increasing interconnected world, we need the understanding only travel provides. Go where your heart leads you. I’m hoping it’s to Egypt.