A conversation about flight shaming with the creative director of SimpliFlying, an international aviation marketing consulting firm. In the news, we look at Airbus production rates and employment growth at its Mobile, Alabama facility, China’s struggle with the COMAC C919 airliner, the first autonomous flight of the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor, and how a fugitive navigated through the aircraft charter business to make good his escape.
Dirk Singer is the creative director at SimpliFlying and the editor of Airline Marketing Monthly, an aviation marketing trade magazine. SimpliFlying is an international aviation marketing consulting firm with a 100% remote team based in Singapore, India, Spain, UK, and Canada.
Dirk looks after the creative and content side of SimpliFlying. He’s written over 1000 articles on aviation marketing and produced special industry reports including a recent one on “flight shaming” and the aviation industry.
In our conversation with Dirk, we discover what flight shaming is (sometimes simply called “flight shame”) and the arguments its proponents are making. Dirk describes the industry’s response so far and how their messaging lacks the clarity of flight shaming groups. He also warns against industry counter-arguments based on the relatively small contribution commercial aviation makes to carbon emissions.
The climate change movement is not an amorphous mass. There are a number of climate change advocacy groups with some showing a willingness to engage in a conversation, and others not. The groups have differing views on commercial aviation and range from a ban on non-essential flying to a frequent-flyer tax.
Some LCCs are positioning themselves as “green airlines” and Dirk explains the dangers of a strategy that offers nothing more than high-density aircraft. We also touch on crisis simulation company Polpeo and their simulation exercises that can prepare an airline for a communication crisis over environmental issues.
Dirk has over 20 years of experience as a digital marketer. He’s created two agencies from scratch, both of which won agency-of-the-year awards in the PR and social media industries. In addition to working for brands ranging from Google to Phillips, Dirk’s aviation experience includes airports such as London Gatwick and airlines such as British Midland International.
Airbus has been producing five A320s per month at its Mobile, Alabama plant. By the start of 2021, they intend to increase the production rate to seven per month. Airbus’ worldwide goal is a production rate of 63 A320-family aircraft per month at its four assembly sites. To support the A320 rate increase at the Alabama plant, as well as manufacturing needs for the A220, Airbus intends to hire 275 additional employees over the next year. Airbus added 600 new jobs at the Alabama facility last year.
China’s COMAC (the Commercial Aircraft Corporation) has struggled to produce the C919 (A320/737 class) single-aisle plane. It is at least five years behind schedule. A range of technical issues that impacted the test flight schedule. To gain approval from the CAAC (the Civil Aviation Administration of China), COMAC needs 4,200 test flight hours. Less than a fifth have been completed.
On December 18, 2019, Bell’s V-280 Valor tilt-rotor demonstrator flew autonomously for the first time. “The V-280 performed an autonomous takeoff, conversion into cruise mode, precision navigation to various waypoints, loiter maneuvers, conversion into vertical-takeoff-and-landing mode, and landed autonomously.” Paul Wilson, the chief engineer for the Bell V-280 Valor program, was our guest in Episode #576.
Carlos Ghosn was an automotive industry executive. He was the CEO of Michelin North America, chairman and CEO of Renault, chairman and CEO of Nissan, chairman of Mitsubishi Motors, and chairman and CEO of the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance. He was internationally recognized as a respected business leader but he was arrested for under-reporting his earnings and misuse of company assets funds. While on bail, Ghosn escaped Japan through several clever charter aircraft flights.
Flower Aviation, a fixed base operator at Pueblo Memorial Airport (KPUB) near Pueblo, Colorado.