Category Archives: Innovation

Attend live events and meetups!

One of the things aerospace industry professionals aren’t especially good at (particularly the geekier among us) is attending live events and meetups.

Of course, we all tend to empty out of the shop or office at noon every Thursday, and head to the favourite pub or restaurant for a meal with the office pals. And we’re always talking shop with pals over 10am coffee.

Those are cool, but they don’t count as live events.

A live event involves >25 people, most of whom are strangers, to whom you might have to introduce yourself and, Gasp. make small talk.

It is held somewhere you don’t normally hang out. Gasp #2.

It comes lubricated by caffeine, carbohydrates and complex sugars, protein, cholesterol, alcohol, and multiple combinations thereof. Hmmm, OK you have my attention.

It might be a trade show in a large convention centre with 10,000 people.  It might be a totally unscripted, schmooze-and-booze meetup in a bar.

A live event will elevate your heart rate and adrenaline levels (at least somewhat), particularly for the more socially backward of us. Initiate Cold-Trickle- Down-Back sequence.

Indeed, I would argue, That’s the point.

Live events get you out of your comfort zone. But more importantly, they get you out of the damn shop/office.

I started down this road three years ago, and while the benefits haven’t been revolutionary (yet), they have certainly been more than evolutionary.

Most people who attend live events are movers and shakers, or want to be one.

Which one you are, doesn’t really matter. If you are bored, fed up and itching for change, even if it’s just changing yourself . . . . . start attending live events and meetups.

If you can’t find a relevant one, start one.

Partly to take my own advice, this week I started a new meetup called South West Aerospace Hackers, for aerospace types in the greater Bristol, UK area. Click on the link if you are within a reasonable driving distance.

It’s a sad fact of life that most live events are geocentric, so I apologise if you are too many hours or time zones away. If this one becomes a global phenomenon, then you can be sure I will leverage the power of the internet to broadcast it globally. But until then, it’s restricted to the south west of the UK.

Or . . . . . . you can start your own.

The upside is huge. You’ll meet interesting people who can help you (and whom you can help) you would never meet otherwise.

Stuff Happens at meetups. Friendships are formed. Light bulbs in heads get switched on. Businesses and initiatives get started.

The downside is minimal. Nobody comes, and you’ve wasted a few hours.

Hint: The downside rarely happens.

Rewrite-the-Rules should go hand in hand with Simplify-the-Bureaucracy

The FAA will soon, it appears, be simplifying the complex, bureaucratic Part 23 process for certifying general aviation aircraft.

Fantastic! Bravo. Applause, clap, clap, clap . . . .

Long overdue. I can only hope that it revitalises a dying industry, and encourages new free thinkers, and old free thinkers who left in frustration, to go back to the drawing board (CAD station?) and start designing new aircraft.

Two questions:

(1) Is EASA listening?

Sure hope so. Indeed, why isn’t EASA blazing this trail?

(2) How about Part 25 next?

Begging yer pardon, folks. But when roughly one-third of the non-recurring cost of a new aircraft programme is purely due to the paperwork and processes required to certify the aircraft, that’s too much bureaucracy.

Commercial aircraft are complex machines. Flying cities, if you will.

But surely Keep-it-simple-stupid‘s first cousin is named Keep-it-as-simple-as-possible.

For Flipboard junkies . . .

Flipboard is an iOS and Android app that you can use to browse articles from your favourite publishing sources.

Just three months ago, they enabled viewers to become curators, I.e. you could start curating and publicising your own virtual magazine (on the Flipboard platform). Give it a try.

I’m now curating two magazines that are quite relevant to aerospace types:

(1) Free Spirit – Everything of interest to those who want to live and work on their terms, free of The Man!
(2) Fly Ahead – Drones, UAVs, independent aerospace firms, and the free-minded professionals who want to take aerospace forward and won’t settle for the status quo!

Feel free to subscribe to either/both of them! Just download the free app, and search on the magazine names.

And/or start curating your own magazines!

Look out, aerospace, Amazon and The Crowd are coming your way

Amazon’s last quarterly report announced an enhancement to Amazon Web Services (AWS) called CloudHSM.

It will be “a new service enabling customers to increase data security and meet compliance requirements.”

How long before we can design an aircraft entirely on the basis of crowd-sourcing and Amazon Web Services?

How long before we can design an airliner that way?

I’m thinking . . . . . Not long.


The game just changed for the aerospace engineer

I just saw something yesterday that made me realize:

Things are changing even faster than I thought.

Freelancer is a site that does just what it says on the tin: Connects people and businesses who need specific work done, with the people who can do that work, wherever in the world they are.

Nothing new. Guru, eLance and oDesk have been doing it for the last decade.

What came as a surprise to me was the kind or work being offered on Freelancer. The eLances and oDesks of the world have until now mainly been useful for copywriting, SEO, web dev, software coding, graphic design, etc. Never the “harder” technical stuff, and certainly not the engineering disciplines within aerospace. That has typically been packaged up and “thrown over the wall” to lower-cost firms, often in cheaper countries.

Not until now, that is.

Continue reading The game just changed for the aerospace engineer

A simple recipe for innovation

Earlier this week, I attended a TEDx conference, sponsored by Airbus

There were several speakers. A few now-famous TED talk videos were shown.

One presentation really stood out. An economist named Martin Klettke, now working for Airbus, illustrated his approach to innovation.

An economist? Innovate? In a technical, aerospace environment? Blasphemy.

It’s not hard if you’re Martin Klettke.

It’s not hard if you dare to think differently.

Here are some of Martin’s one-liners that have stuck in my head every since:

Continue reading A simple recipe for innovation