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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Editor’s Notebook: Winds of Change

By Joy Finnegan, Editor [jfinnegan@accessintel.com]

It is my understanding that this magazine began, in its current form, in the early ‘80s. It had existed as another entity, Aircraft Equipment Maintenance, for some time before that. Over the years, there have been some talented individuals at the helm of this magazine, including Paul Berner, Clif Stroud, Matt Thurber and David Evans. Each individual brought something different to the table and each one continued to make the magazine better. I have tried to do the same, having been tasked upon my arrival as editor with improving the content, design and overall cohesion of the magazine. I hope you would agree that our team here accomplished that goal.

Our umbrella website, AviationToday.com, will continue to have an Aviation Maintenance tab and coverage of the aviation maintenance industry will continue.

In the years since I became editor, we did our best to widen our coverage of the maintenance industry. We had our editor-at-large, David Jensen, travel to Turkey, Ireland, southern California and Kansas, among other choice spots, for interesting stories that would not have been the same without seeing firsthand how the companies we featured operate. We had our European correspondent, Thierry DuBois, visit many interesting European companies including Dassault and Iberia Maintenance. Douglas Nelms traveled to Dubai and Mexico for us to see the expanding maintenance world in those parts of the planet. We tried to give everyone in this business the recognition they deserve, as they compete in a multi-billion dollar industry.

We have also tried to give you more interesting and information-packed stories reaching out to as many experts on a topic as possible. Two stellar examples of this are the stories by Charlotte Adams on Organization Designation Authorization that was our May cover story and her story on MSG-3 in our July. Another was our managing editor Andrew Parker’s story about maintenance on the Red Bull Air Race circuit that appeared as our July cover story.

More than anything else, we tried to keep our focus maintenance-centric. There are plenty of pilot magazines, but our goal was to always focus on the business of maintaining aircraft. If a story started to take a turn toward pilots, we always stopped and redirected because we felt that focus was lacking in other magazine offerings.

When I came on board, the aforementioned winds of change were already blowing. Print advertising sales, the way we make our bread and butter, were up and down. We’d have good months and bad but we were ever hopeful. Even venerable publications like the New York Times and The Washington Post began struggling to survive while adapting to a new medium — the Internet. Our parent company, Access Intelligence, has, over the last three years, embraced the Internet medium as the future. Access Intelligence is in the process of doing what the entire industry should be doing to develop a truly 21st century media model for aviation users. It is restructuring its aviation products. As part of that restructure, the company is suspending the printing of Aviation Maintenance magazine.

Our umbrella website, www.AviationToday.com, will continue to have an Aviation Maintenance tab and coverage of the aviation maintenance industry will continue with regular maintenance features in the new product Aviation Today Daily Brief and in our other aviation publications, Avionics Magazine and Rotor & Wing. You can continue to follow AM on Twitter as well: @Av_Maintenance.

To be honest, I was dreading writing this piece. It is the end of an era. But now that I’ve gotten the hard part over, it wasn’t so bad. As all of you in the aviation business know, these are trying times. The winds of change are blowing and we must either put up the sails and harness them or sink. That is business. But for me, it was also personal. I enjoyed catering to the professional maintenance industry that so often gets overlooked and is under-appreciated. The readers of this magazine have been welcoming and supportive during my tenure as editor. For that, I am grateful.

These winds of change are blowing me in a different direction. The editor of our sister publication, Rotor & Wing, had already given his notice and a search was on for his replacement. To my surprise, I was offered that position. So my journey will continue as editor of Rotor & Wing. I hope to see you there.

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