14 August 2021
London, UK 4pm
Sometimes the fleeting moments in life carry more relevance and gravitas with the passage of time.
It’s a revelation I had recently whilst preparing for my Airbus revalidation. Neatly tucked into a folder of notes, a 320 circuit breaker booklet with a scribbled note - written in December 2019 by the Captain I shared my LPC with - just prior to him changing type and ultimately leaving the Middle East.
“Thanks and Happy Landings”now forms a time capsule: reflecting a moment in time when aviation was particularly buoyant, and the stark reality of the last 18 months an unwritten novel you might come across as a construction by George Orwell or Alfred Hitchcock.
The last few months for many crew have marked a slow ebb in travel restrictions, back to a pseudo-reality of what they were once familiar with.
It’s clear since my last blog that the correction is underway: Both IATA and EUROCONTROL have published statistics which broadly suggest an industry on the cusp of a period of growth.
This recovery has been far from uniform though, and the concept of a shared experience - the metaphorical ‘glue’ that has bound crew during the Covid period - is now in a transitory stage; emphasising the increasingly stark contrast between those who still have jobs to return to and those who do not.
So what’s the relevance?
From a simplistic view, and from the perspective of someone made redundant at the height of Covid, this time capsule serves as a tool for reflection; reminders of the cyclical nature of our industry and the concept that the pendulum of opportunity will once again swing the other way.
Removing the frustrations borne out of the geopolitics of Brexit and licensing, aviation still has a purpose and as the upswing in cargo during 2020 has shown - the industry has the ability to adapt and overcome these obstacles to an extent.
It is important to remain pragmatic.
The path to recovery remains uncertain and regionally driven, but the trends are encouraging. Recovery will be dictated by factors far beyond the scope of discussion for one blog; the influence of the emerging flygskam movement on intergovernmental policy and domestic flying being one of these.
For those who weren’t furloughed or pooled, the newly graduated or those on the wrong side of the employment drag curve during 2020, maintaining new skills honed in lockdown or capitalising on emerging opportunities now will make you stand out from the crowd as recruitment restarts. Fundamentally it will strengthen your own resilience, help you to maintain course and create contingencies as the curtain comes up on the industry; awaiting your own chance whilst you spectate colleagues returning to work.
Last blog I discussed branding, the unique creative thread or blueprint that runs to the core of what your business is and what it stands for. I touched on how to register your company, considerations when creating a logo and contemplated finance structures.
I’ve spent a few evenings post-shift from Sainsbury’s refining the logo. With this finalised and copyrighted, this blog will continue the branding theme - charting my initial progress of designing a website.
Websites now offer the most direct way of reaching potential customers and even if you only intend to build a basic ‘landing page’ with your contact details, they offer an efficient way to channel your consumer traffic.
First off, secure that important domain name. From previous blogs, I hinted it would be prudent to check whether your domain (the ‘www.’) address or URL had not been already taken. Coming up with a brand, only to find someone has taken the domain can be frustrating and push you back to the design stage.
You’ll pay for a domain yearly, though discount codes, taking out longer subscriptions or shopping around can help bring the cost down. Check out GoDaddy (https://uk.godaddy.com) or Namecheap (www.namecheap.com); prices can vary for the same domain between different registration websites. At this stage your brand will be relatively unknown; purchasing a domain ending ‘.com’ or ‘.co.uk’ can instil trust and weight in your offering as these are the most commonly used domains for larger businesses.
I paid £28 for 4 years tenure of www.upaerial.co.uk, with potential to renew at the end of this period. Taking a 4 year subscription was both cost effective and provides a suitable timeframe to see whether my offering will be commercially successful.
Next, find someone to host your site.
A host is the place (or server) where all of your website files live once uploaded, making them accessible for people to access. Most domain registration sites also offer hosting services in parallel, however loyalty to your domain provider doesn’t always materialise financial savings. Consider the host reputation, the subscription cost and the speed of its servers. How does the host uptime compare to competitors? This information is freely available online.
GoDaddy offers a good service in this respect, however, I went with Wix (wix.com). A financial incentive and access to their in-house web building tools which had been highly reviewed elsewhere got me signed up - cost £120 for 2 years.
I took the opportunity to purchase a company email inbox at the same time. Those looking to save money can get a Gmail or Outlook inbox for free. Having an email address with your company name embedded in it again adds credence to being professional.
Wix is tailored towards small businesses and has widely available help guides to assist during the construction process. I found this especially useful when linking up the domain name to the material held by my host - or ‘pointing my domain name to server IP address via DNS’ as its known to the more computer literate(!)...
It also has a great dashboard where you can view site analytics (identifying where your consumer traffic is coming from) and SEO (search engine optimisation) tools. Essentially crafting the signposts Google and other search engines use to find your site and rank it amongst other similar businesses.
Whilst seeking to drive brand presence, this time through the variety of operations I can conduct, I completed my GVC or General Visual Line of Sight Certificate training. This allows for drone operation within the Specific category with types/categories of aircraft that would be outside the scope of the less restrictive Open category using my A2CoC. This qualification will essentially give me a broader operating theatre from which to run my business and pitch for operations deemed higher risk by the UK CAA.
Taking my GVC required a further theory course, a practical test of flight manoeuvres under a mock operational job and some basic emergency procedures. The final part, a submission of my own Operations Manual was sent to the CAA a few weeks ago and pending approval should result in the issue of my certificate. A number of RAEs (Recognised Assessment Entities) exist offering this training. Prices vary so it’s worth spending a bit of time to research - check the Resilient Pilot website for webinars by Simms UAV and Coptrzs for further information.
Completion of the GVC practical test was a great way of putting into practice some of the theory I’ve learnt over the last few months and with it came a sense of achievement which has otherwise been absent in the last year.
At a basic level, my website needs to be easily navigable with a menu, home page, some company background (to add reputability), a list of my product offerings and a way of getting in touch.
If this seems overwhelming, don’t panic. Wix offers templates and themes beginners can utilise or you can reach out to third party developers for a fee. For those feeling more adventurous, the advanced tools offer real scope for experimentation. As someone doing this for the first time, I found this remarkably intuitive using YouTube tutorials for additional guidance.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
The website is a longer term project, the continued development of which will be picked up in my next blog. Having now registered my domain, connected it to a server and started on the page design, my core brand is starting to show strength. This will pay dividends in projecting a professional company which will hopefully appeal to a wide consumer base.
Oliver is a First Officer on the A320 family aircraft and one of our pilot mentors at Resilient Pilot. Working in the industry for 8 years, he has great operational and life experience. Learn more about Oli on our 'Supported' page. You can also visit Oliver's exciting new website here: www.upaerial.co.uk