As you might expect, I’ve received a fair number of comments to my recent post, Aviation Reality in a Post-Peak World. All of them came to me as email, using the link that is my byline at the end of my posts. Either directly or indirectly, they said the piece preached aviation eschatology, a 50-cent word meaning the end is near.
Contrary to how they read the piece, my message was far more frightening: Aviation is changing. What worked in the past will not work in the future because global resources and human demand are not what they were during aviation’s first century.
At least one reader got it, judging from his public comment on JetWhine. And he’s absolutely right in saying that those who figure out those changes and ways to capitalize on them will survive and prosper.
Most of the emailers reinforced the notion that humans don’t like change. Let’s face it, no one likes to get out of bed on a cold morning, and I’m right there with them (it was 1 degree this morning). What matters more is how we deal with it: jump out of bed thinking warm thoughts, snuggle deeper under the covers and deal with the consequences later, or develop a programmable thermostat, so we have heat when it’s needed.
All who emailed sorted themselves into the first two camps, optimism and denial. Several made it clear that their comments were off the record, so I’ll not mention any names. But I will convey their paraphrased view of the future.
Camp Denial speaks for itself. Aviation isn’t changing, it’s just in one of its PIO cycles. It will get better. Okay, maybe it will. And maybe it won’t. Those in Camp Optimism said they weren’t worried about the future of aviation (and everything else that runs on energy as we know it today) because human curiosity and innovation has always carried the day.
There’s no doubt that we’ll find a new source of energy. But, will it be online before we consume what’s left of our current form of energy? Past energy innovations were, I think, simple because they all focused on better use of the same raw material, carbon in the finite resources of coal, oil, and natural gas.
What we need to develop is a sustainable form of power. In the propeller world electricity is showing promise, but we need a lot more innovations in batteries/fuel cells to equal what pistons now provide. And what about the turbines? In other words, innovation takes time, and what is on the countdown clock is determined by how quickly the world consumes dead dinosaurs.
But resources are just half the equation. Without customers, someone to buy and use the fruits of innovations, investing in their development is wasteful. Between the two challenges, developing a solid customer base may be the more demanding task.
Time doesn’t stop, and neither does change. Those who adapt will survive and prosper, and those who don’t will die. That’s the way of things in nature, and in business. Change is, without a doubt, scary, as the unknown always is. But it’s also is intriguing because we want to know what’s next. As the lone public commenter asked, “What will those opportunities be? What will 21st century aviation entrepreneurs do?”
In time, we’ll all find out. — Scott Spangler
Read the complete post at http://www.jetwhine.com/2008/12/change-it-just-seems-like-aerial-eschatology/
Wed, Dec 10 2008 1:06 PM
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