We try to write about innovation on the Plane Conversations blog site as much as possible. Anytime I see or hear about a company or individual who is pushing new boundries in our industry I listen and try to understand what they are up to. Without innovation in General Aviation, our industry will languish and not realize the potential that we know it can reach - the potential that those of us in it for the long haul dream about.
I say this every day when I talk to people about what we do. People who travel love to use private aircraft and the only barrier to more people using private aviation or general aviation as a form of travel is price. So, if we are innovating, then driving the price down for flying private aircraft to grow the market has to be the primary goal.
Jack Pelton, CEO of Cessna, has led his company through the toughest recession in modern aviation. Their backlog of aircraft sales dropped to half of the prerecession level. They laid of a large percentage of their workforce including 6000 in Wichita alone.
It seems that the bigger you get, the harder it is to innovate. I find that to be true even in our little aviation company. We get set in our ways and do thingsin a certain way today because we have always done them that way. The lesson learned is that none of us, no matter how large or small, can afford to stop innovating.
So why change? Why innovate?
Cessna has made more aircraft than any other manufacturer in the history of aviation. When you are number one, it is hard to think about innovation. I guess all it takes is a good recession and losing half your order book to get the creative juices flowing again! I believe that Cessna will breath new life into their design and manufacturing processes to make better aircraft that are more reliable and efficient and at a better price. They have to if they want to compete with the likes of Embraer and other rising manufcaturers of business and private aircraft. The market wants new lower cost solutions and someone is going to provide what the market wants. Maybe Cessna can do it.
Jack Pelton sums it up in this interview on CNN. Innovate or Die!