Nicole Noack, IAMA, at her home office desk outside of Hamburg.

What We’re Made Of is a Q&A series that looks at how companies in the aviation industry are tackling challenges brought on by the COVID–19 pandemic. We’ve had to adapt to changes in where, when and how we work, but we are resilient. If you would like to share your experience, e-mail editor@apex.aero.

Nicole Noack
Managing Director, Independent Aircraft Modifier Alliance
Location: Hamburg
Day 15 of working from home
Date of writing: April 3

Are you in lockdown right now?
Yes, in Germany, which means social distancing and businesses are closed except for essentials.

Where are you writing from?
At home, from an old desk. I have all of my working essentials including the cup of coffee which my kids bring to me once a while. As they are in lockdown, too, they happy to have something to do.

“Overthrow the usual competition-minded approach. We are in this together, and we will get out of this together.”

How are you trying to maintain “business as usual” or communicating with your team?
We were working remotely even before the lockdown as our members and staff are located across the globe. This has intensified recently. Using Zoom, we were even able to hold two-day workshops online. Of course, the personal interaction is still missing but we enjoy seeing each other on video and are having more 1:1 calls.

What’s your new office attire or go-to comforts during this time?
My husband and I have introduced coffee-machine meetings to improvise an at-work atmosphere. As we’re both in aviation, we talk about business (only business then!) before we return to our home office desks – just like you would in an office.

What news outlets are you following?
CNN, Reuters, BBC World News, Zeit Online and ZDF. I follow aviation news mainly on LinkedIn and through APEX Media, Runway Girl Network, AviationWeek, and IATA and ISTAT for association-related news.

How are you passing time?
I walk after work to meet my goal of 10,000 steps each day. We live in a rural area, so we’re lucky to have the space to do so. But what I really recommend is to turn on some music and dance as if no one can see you. Check your local clubs for live streams. A great example is United We Stream, which originated in Berlin and now includes events in other cities as well.

Describe where your business was at the end of 2019. What were your goals/projections for 2020?
IAMA launched in 2019. We had plans for 2020, including the release of the IAMA Rulebook and accelerating connections with stakeholders in the aviation aftermarket such as airframe manufacturers and authorities. These goals, along with introducing measures to better support modification on leased aircraft, remain active.

Where do you see your company or the industry in six months from now? One year?
We have slowed down some of our initiatives to focus on crisis-response measures, but IAMA is still a strong aftermarket alliance. All of our members, which were heavily hit by the coronavirus outbreak, committed to IAMA at our first general assembly held on March 31.

What’s one thing you would do to better prepare your business to weather a similar storm in the future?
Overthrow the usual competition-minded approach. We are in this together, and we will get out of this together. As one of our board members, Mark Haycock of Envoy Aerospace, said: “This is not a time to compete but a time to come together and find ways for all of us to emerge safely and efficiently so that we can compete tomorrow.” Talk to your team, partners and competitors before you make any assumptions. I’d certainly put this as the first point on any crisis agenda.

What’s one thing that will never be the same again for commercial aviation? 
What the aviation industry will look like a year from now depends on the duration of the lockdowns and the level of support we will receive from international governments. On the passenger side, we will see increasing measures for protection such as pre-boarding health checks and onboard disinfection, while investment in passenger comfort could be postponed. The upcoming years will be years of recovery.

Read more about the coronavirus impact on the air travel industry, including APEX’s position on the matter, and subscribe to the APEX Daily Experience newsletter to stay up to date.