Many of you are reading these words at HAI Heli-Expo 2015, the annual focal point of excitement, change and new product rollouts within our market, and that is entirely fitting on a number of levels.
On Feb. 15, the FAA finally issued the long-anticipated NPRM on commercial use of UAV’s within U.S. airspace. I did not have a great deal of time to dig into the details of the NPRM. But rest assured, we will most certainly be doing so and reporting back to you. In fact, we already made the decision to dig deep into the issue of UAV operations as the focus of one of our 2015 Technical Information Series of articles that will run throughout the year.
What struck me most in the immediate aftermath of this announcement wasn’t anything from the FAA, however. It was the immediate response by a senior-level exec at Amazon. USA Today covered the announcement of the NPRM the following day in a front page story headlined, Drone rules dismay Amazon, quoting Amazon’s Vice President of Global Policy, Paul Misener, as saying “The FAA needs to begin and expeditiously complete the formal process to address the needs of our business.”
Seriously, Amazon? I have never read a more self-indulgent, self-serving statement of corporate arrogance in my entire life. The business needs of Amazon apparently trump the safety interests within the design of our entire national airspace system. Simply amazing.
But that statement underscores the immense nature of the changes we face in the rotorcraft market in the coming months and years. We have a whole new crop of business people and companies preparing to enter our market who do not know anything about, nor do they even care about helicopters, or the way things have always been done. And that is going to prove to be both annoying and exciting, because that is exactly the fuel that ignites innovation and change in any industry. Some of you are secure in your business models for now, as you move people and lift loads that are beyond the scope of the current crop of UAV’s. But others of you need to admit that you are not in the rotorcraft business at all. You are in the powerline/pipeline patrol business, you are in the surveillance business, the Search and Rescue business, the fish spotting business, the mosquito-control business, the firefighting business, the crop-spraying business, the wildlife counting business, and of course, the film and video business … it might not be what you want, but it is the absolute reality.
As a magazine publisher, we know how you feel. We have been facing very similar changes and challenges the past decade. Any magazine that does not acknowledge the reality that they are in the information distribution business is not operating with a strong business plan. Here at Rotor & Wing, our business model continues to evolve so that we can deliver the information to you that you want, in the format in which you want and expect to receive it. There will always be a place for a printed magazine such as this, but there are far too many other ways you look for the information you need to run your business, and we would be foolish to ignore that reality.
So if you do happen to be at Heli-Expo as you are reading this, I invite you to stop by the Rotor & Wing booth and introduce yourself to our editorial team. Some of the names and faces you will know very well, while others will be completely new to you. But I am proud to say we have assembled the best combination of core industry expertise, together with a top team of media professionals who are experts in preparing and delivering that expertise to you along with all the other business insight and information you expect from us, and in whatever form you want it. Change can be a very good thing!
Related: FAA News