Air safety relies on collaborative comms

There are few industries more competitive than aviation. Years of seismic change and liberalisation has facilitated widespread positive impact on competition and innovation.

The sky's the limit for collaborative comms in aviation, argues Richard Stephenson
The sky's the limit for collaborative comms in aviation, argues Richard Stephenson

Yet, despite its competitive nature, there are also few industries with as much requirement to work collaboratively in an effort to unlock true value potential for the benefit of businesses and customers alike.

When you consider the focus of the communications function within the aviation sector, it largely comprises areas of mutual and common interest – safety, security, environment and competition.

These commonalities represent real opportunities for the creation of important alliances and the delivery of consistent and coordinated industry-wide communications and campaigning activity.

When Gareth Southgate picks his team to play for England, he is bringing together a group of footballers who spend most of the year competing against one another in the Premier League.

Yet, consolidate these players as one team competing with another country and they work together to fly a different flag altogether.

It’s the same in communications.

We all represent our organisations first and foremost, regardless of whether you are a service provider, leading brand, tour operator, tourism board or even the regulator or Government department.

We’ll play hard for our own organisations, but when an opportunity appears in front of us which consolidates the whole industry, only a fool would allow competition to get in the way of the greater good and the huge open goal that is begging for the ball.

In aviation there are currently a number of ‘open goals’ and hovering towards the top of the list are drones, which unquestionably present significant benefits for a diverse range of sectors.

Imagine a drone leaving the roof of a hospital carrying a live organ needed for an urgent transplant in half the time it would take a road vehicle, or locating injured victims and surveying damage following a man-made disaster.

However, harnessing the potential of drones in the future is entirely dependent on users adhering to the rules of use today.

You would be hard pushed to find anyone in the aviation industry disagreeing with that.

You will almost certainly, however, find different organisations wanting to approach the ‘opportunity vs menace’ debate differently.

Fundamentally, all can see the pros and cons.

So the stage is set and the challenge clear – and the responsibility of communications teams across the industry to work together has never been more prevalent.

Creating the Communications Directors Forum, a pan-industry body representing senior communications representatives in aviation led to a huge industry-wide consumer safety campaign.

It is demonstrative that unification and a shared voice can ensure, in spite of the many different needs of organisations, that competition can be put to one side in order to tackle a shared problem.

The ability to collaborate is as vital to success as the ability to compete and, for aviation in particular, the sky really is the limit.

Richard Stephenson is communications director at the Civil Aviation Authority

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