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Reader Survey

Aero was created as the postmerger replacement for the former Airliner and Douglas Service magazines, which were created in 1958 and 1943, respectively. It looks considerably different from either of its predecessors, but its purpose still reflects the tradition they both established: "To provide timely supplemental technical information that supports safe and efficient commercial fleet maintenance and operations and increases customer awareness of Boeing commercial airplane products and services."


At the end of last year, we published a reader survey in the magazine and on the World Wide Web to gather opinions and other information about Aero. Responses to this survey, which appeared four years after the last Douglas Service survey and two years after the final Airliner survey, provided us with information on the following topics:

  1. Survey respondents.
  2. Readers’ job responsibilities.
  3. Overall feedback.
  4. Reader comments.
  5. Improving Aero.

Our readership includes operators (711 to date) of Boeing- and Douglas-designed commercial airplanes, suppliers, and regulatory agencies. Several other key audiences, including the top 100 airports in the world, engineering colleges, aviation industry members, government agencies, and selected members of the international media, also receive the magazine. Other readers peruse Aero on the World Wide Web.

We received several hundred replies from our readers and were encouraged to see the diversity of respondents. Though the majority of you identified your organization as airline (mostly flight crews and maintenance personnel), many others wrote in from such fields as education, repair station, government research, fleet service, air traffic control, media, and materiel and spares product support. Other organizations included regulators, suppliers, engineering and aviation colleges, compliance programs, corporate flight departments, technical training organizations, airplane lessors, aviation consultants, leasing companies, and engine and airframe manufacturers. Several aviation enthusiasts also took time to reply to our survey.

As your area of job responsibility, the categories you listed most often were, in descending order, engineering, maintenance, flight operations, training, management, and safety. Respondents from other categories came from quality control, aeronautics, flight systems research, university teaching and research, production control, spares, advanced aeronautical systems, and ground operations. Other, more diverse respondent fields included design and illustration, sales and marketing, information systems, technical publishing, security, translation, and media. Finally, people such as airport operator, reporter, aeronautics editor, flight instructor, inspector, airline captain, ramp handler, private pilot, flight attendant, student, integrated product team, attorney, and machinist replied to our survey.

The survey questions, shown in the Reader Survey Scores, include the ratio for the responses given. The scale of 1 to 5 corresponds to a response of "disagree strongly" (1) to "agree strongly" (5). We have provided the ratios for the answers received through both print and web survey media, with results from the print version shown first.

We were pleased to see that most of you said Aero included practical, useful information that helps you do your job better (print, 4.25; web, 3.61). You generally agreed that the articles were well written and struck a good balance between technical detail and ease of reading (4.51, 3.80), were about the right depth and length (4.25, 3.61), represented a good mix of subjects (4.46, 3.83), and were timely (4.16, 3.54).

The majority of you said that the photos, illustrations, and other graphics effectively helped you understand the information presented in the articles (3.92, 3.71); that the charts, technical drawings, and illustrations were presented in a way that was easy to comprehend (4.50, 3.72); and that the layout of the magazine and individual articles was effective in helping you find the information you needed (3.71, 3.65).

Fewer of you said you think the Field Service listing in the back of each issue provides the kind of information you need to contact your Boeing Field Service representative (3.62, 3.22). The majority of you were neutral about the ability of your internal distribution system to make sure the people who would most benefit from reading Aero actually receive a copy on a regular basis. You also indicated that you would like to see those systems distribute Aero more effectively if possible (3.66, 2.07).

Other information we learned from you was that few people in your organization besides yourself read Aero regularly (2.50, 2.07). An even lower number said that you want to visit our web site rather than receive a print copy (1.59, 3.02).

Many of you supplied us with suggestions for future articles. The subject areas requested most often were, in descending order, flight operations, new technology, maintenance, engineering, systems, products, training, services, and safety. Some of you also identified specific topics, a number of which are listed with examples of related articles in past issues.

Many of you provided us with specific comments on what you like about Aero, what you don’t like, and how we need to improve. The following statements represent various views of Aero:

  • Thank you for an excellent publication.
  • Field service representatives have a name, not only a telephone number. [By] publishing the name, one could scan the list and see the changes in assignments or where a rep has moved.
  • I love Aero. It is consistently interesting and valuable in helping me understand the aviation business.
  • The page format is difficult to read, being too busy with color and print density.
  • The Aero magazines are a tremendous addition to my classes and really let the [university mechanical and aeronautical engineering] students see some of the operational sides of Boeing.
  • Aero is a class magazine -- visually attractive with good graphics.
  • Get this on an 8.5- by 11-in page. It doesn’t fit in files well.
  • The articles and the graphics are terrific and inspiring.
  • Good photography. Nice modern layout and style.
  • Use less extravagant background colors to improve readability.
  • I would like to see related bibliographies.
  • My airline flies almost all Boeing and Douglas aircraft. It would be nice to get a "heads up" on some new information dealing with our airplanes.
  • I would like to see more: more issues, more articles, more graphics.
  • Provide a list of training aids available for various aircraft and systems.
  • Make it bigger, deeper reaching, more frequent.
  • More emphasis to safety strongly recommended.
  • I have found Aero to be very informative and interesting, with a good mix of articles and subject headings.
  • Your magazine should go into more in-depth analysis of new technology and its implementation in your products.
  • Increase level of technical detail in articles.
  • I am now working in the training department for pilots (initial, recurrent, or special training), and I found your publication very interesting and educational for the people on the line.
  • Many thanks for new cockpit design information for the 737. We value the ability to look a bit to the future.
  • It would be very helpful to have access to the full archive of the magazine.

So what’s next? We’ve already incorporated a number of requests from the 1996 Airliner survey responses.

Clearly label each article to identify its target audience.
We added categories for Aero articles: flight operations, maintenance, products and services, safety, systems, technology/product development, and training.

Provide more articles on troubleshooting, out-of-production airplanes, maintenance and operation costs, regulatory issues, safety issues, training issues, and an occasional nostalgic or historical article.
We’ve run articles in all of these categories since Aero no. 1.

Make the magazine available on the World Wide Web.
Even though survey respondents overwhelmingly voted to read a print copy of the magazine, we introduced an Aero web site to provide access for those of you who do not receive print copies.

We’ve also already done or will do the following to respond to your feedback on the Aero survey:

Improve readability.
We heard from you early on that a different type style would be easier to read, and we changed that in the third issue. Since then we have made other subtle changes to address your concerns, including fewer vertical lines and boxes, relocation of page numbers from the side to the bottom, more white or light-colored backgrounds for easier photocopying, and a reformatted table of contents.

Decrease magazine size.
Effective with Aero no. 7, we now use the 8.5- by 11-in size some of you requested for easier photocopying and storage.

Add names to Boeing Field Service listing.
Because we publish only quarterly, the names in the Field Service listing would not necessarily be current. By the time each new issue is distributed, Field Service representatives have moved to different bases, new phone or fax lines have been installed, and some bases have opened or closed. One solution provides updated Field Service listings on the Aero web site starting in 2000. The listings will be linked to Boecom, the official Boeing communication system between Field Service bases and internal technical support organizations. Boecom is essentially a proprietary e-mail system and is used primarily for communications to help resolve customer in-service airplane problems. This system also contains the most current information available on where our Field Service representatives are located, with phone and fax numbers.

Finally, the Aero editorial board and technical review committee will review the survey results and your comments to make sure we publish articles in the categories you requested and, where possible, the specific topics you want us to discuss.

Thanks to all of you who participated in the survey. We’ll publish another one at the end of 2000 to see how we’re meeting your expectations and what we can do to make Aero a more valuable resource for you.


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