Developing an aircraft industry database
J Routledge guides you through the world of marine directory publishing. Many aviation "wanna be"directories have become out-of-date overnight .Learn how certain smart publishers have embraced the worldwide web and utilised fast changing search technology to the benefit of the aviation and aerospace community at: www.aviation-database.com
We started "Aero Index" in 1993 as a reference book, a standard work of reference for the aircraft, airline, avionics and MRO maintenance repair and overhaul industries. Initially, we limited our geographical coverage to Europe. Airline buyers, aircraft designers, spares and parts buyers, vendors and dealers all used it to source the nuts and bolts of aircraft. It was a list of contact names and addresses of suppliers and subcontractors, in both alphabetical order and classified order (by product or service). Its currency was its accuracy and its comprehensiveness. Convenience for AOG services was also an asset.
Up to that point we were relying on companies updating their information by returning our postal mailings. This was always going to be a challenge because, of course, if they had changed address, they might not get our mailing. The rate of return was poor, one in a hundred, we needed to find a better way. The world wide web came along at exactly the right time for us. When buying our book, our customers were paying for up-to-date information. Gathering and verifying information was extremely labour intensive. We needed all the help we could get with this.
For a "global" industry, our next goal was to broaden the geography. Airbus was now established as a European aircraft manufacturer to rival Boeing, so there was a demand for accurate databases of European suppliers. All of the companies participating in the database wanted to sell their wares worldwide.
Aircraft manufacturers prior to this period had been decreasing in number and those that were most successful were beginning to use computer technology to "manage" supplier bases... increased emphasis on competitiveness leading to tighter and tighter constriction of the industry and its sub-contractors, both civil and military, fixed wing and rotary.
There was now a competitor for Aero Index, the book... the world wide web was beginning to become established as a source of the same information. So we started www.aviation-database.com and www.aviation-aerospace-search-portal.co.uk to make the content of the directory available free of charge on the web, no membership, no subscription. Our revenue would be derived from advertising and web links. There were no geographical restrictions on the web. Most importantly, it provided us with the tool we needed for updating and maintaining our data.
The next chapter in this story we know already, making the electronic directory fully portable on cd-rom.. but what of the future? ... Palm-top computers fully equipped to surf the web, giving us the opportunity to provide information instantly to the boardroom table or the meeting room, wherever that might be....developing the technical content of the database to allow the researcher to search by part number.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Routledge is Managing Director of information publishers, AERO INDEX LTD.Formerly Business Development Manager at Sells Publications Ltd., he has developed his own company, founded in 1993, to take the time-honoured concept of the business directory into the "information age". The company is now publishing comprehensive directories on the world wide web.