Archive for May 2010


Top 3 Designer Defence Systems

The M198 Howitzer

As we touched down with the Embraer EMB 120 in Geneva the other day, the lot was filled with sparsely coloured twin-turboprops of varying decent. The odd FlyBaboo Dash-8 and Swiss A320 were idling at the regular gates, but this is clearly not an airport made for regular passenger travel. It seems unfitting, somehow.

We were in this western Canton to discuss one of the most pressing challenges facing modern nation building today – the design of land-based artillery systems. Building a modern army is not simply a matter of heading down to IDEX in Abu Dhabi and buying the first armoured mortar system in sight. It takes commitment to the real issues involved in creating a sustainable defence system. Design being the primary concern, of course.

Our dinner discussions were long and infused by the local grapes from Domaine de Champlong, but we thought we’d summarize where the state of elegantly designed defence equipment stands, as of May 2010.

1. General Dynamics ASCOD2
Originally released back in 1992, this marvellous little collaboration between Santa Bárbara Sistemas and Steyr Daimler Puch in Austria got an update in 2003. We especially have our eyes on the Advanced Surveillance Vehicle, VCOAV.

Sometimes, it’s all about the accessories. Add this turret to anything terrain-driven, and you’ve got yourself a handsome fighting machine.

3. M198 Howitzer
A classic that must be mentioned in these circumstances. 70’s designs are generally speaking nothing to write home about, but this field artillery unit has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that refuses to fade.

The 777 Ambience


In the last Fast Lane column the man himself writes:

I explained that I had a special metabolism that agreed very well with the air quality and white noise of a Boeing 777.

Hear hear. We couldn’t agree more. This is the reason we have installed The 777 Ambience sound in our homes. We sleep like small babies at a karaoke bar in Shibuya to it.

The 777 Ambience by Beingtylerbrule

Photo cred:

Umshini wami. Or How Aviation Was Saved

Flight mode

As we suffered from a week of European flight hopping we finally got a chance to sit back and relax a bit. Unfortunately this was accompanied by a rather crude safety instruction by aviation waitresses who apparently hadn’t enjoyed the charmingly breakfast buffet at Hotel de la Paix in Geneva as we had that morning. But we digress. To the sound of a monotone voice, it became painfully obvious what’s lacking in current aviation services. The signature tune.

Although we might have chosen a different tune than the post-modern choice made by Jacob Zuma, Awuleth Umshini wami (Bring Me My Machine Gun), a signature tune is a natural branding tool. It’s sad to see that it’s so seldom used as a branding opportunity by the aviation industry.

So you might ask what a proper signature tune would be. Would Lufthansa be brave enough to spray a little sunshine from the sandy beaches and beautiful bums of Rio with The Choro. Or could Swiss see the opportunity of R.Kellys sexy joddling in “Echo” everytime you touched ground with one of their A340’s? We would certainly hope so. However, we’re perplexed by Qatar Airways choice of tune that makes you cry like a dalmatian in a London penthouse everytime you board a flight to Doha.

Whatever choice it will add much need brand quality to aviation outfits everywhere. That goes beyond the a well stitched bow-tie or neatly matched scarf and hat. A strong and chippy signature tune will be an essential part of aviation recovery. We will be keeping our ears to the speakers.