Firstly, my sincere apologies for not having provided another response sooner. Since the new magazine came out, I have been exceptionally busy, what with RIAT and then a week in the office (on my own due to holidays) finishing off the September issue.
It’s obviously not possible for me to deal with every single point, as there are some things I don’t really feel I can discuss for commercial reasons, but hopefully I’ll be able to address some of the major issues in general terms.
In brief, the aviation magazine market has changed substantially in recent years, and not necessarily to the benefit of a more ‘general’ title such as Aircraft Illustrated. This may surprise those of us (and I include myself in this — my own interests, far from being directed at the historical end of the spectrum, cover all forms of aviation past and present) whose aviation interests are wide-ranging, but this is the reality of the situation. Therefore, and following the results of the market research conducted earlier this year, the decision was taken to give AI a more specific focus, namely on historical topics, although still keeping the mix of military and civil, and to some extent the mix of old and new by containing some features with a modern element. The Airbus article in the August issue was one such; going further down this road, a feature looking at the ‘Normandie-Niemen’ squadron both at war and in the present day prior to its disbandment earlier this month is contained in the September issue, and there will be plenty more along such lines. In each case, the present-day element will not simply be a sentence or two at the end, but rather more detailed. And the airshow coverage is the same as it has always been, except in greater quantity.
I can certainly understand the disappointment felt in some quarters regarding the changes to the magazine, but can assure you that they have been made on the basis of a close analysis of the market, rather than on any sudden whim — and, furthermore, I cannot stress enough that, nowadays, such a decision is never driven or taken by one person alone. A whole range of people are involved in the process of making a change, and not just within the publishing company, let alone just the editorial team.
There will also, I hope, be items to interest those whose interests lie at the more modern end of the spectrum, albeit maybe in a rather different style to what has gone before. We will, for instance, be covering such subjects in due course as the first flight of the Boeing 787, the stand-up of No 6 Squadron on the Typhoon and the RAF in Afghanistan, but in our own style, which I hope will be of interest in terms of offering a varied perspective on current events. A big part of our thinking in relation to the revamped magazine is that it should offer something different when compared with other titles, hence articles like those I have mentioned, our slightly later historical focus, and the ‘Air Display’ section, the scope of which will increase over time. Some articles will inevitably be on similar themes to what you see elsewhere, but this is always an occupational hazard in the magazine business and will ever be so.
Finally, should anyone still be having any problems related to subscriptions, do pursue the matter with the subscriptions department, but let me know by e-mail to the editorial address if any difficulties continue.
Best wishes to all, and thanks for the comments, whether critical or not.