Spring, 2007 by Justin Bannister NMSU Research & Resources
When you’re a pilot, there is little room for error. Those who fly often say power outages at night can be very dangerous situations. The pilot is alone, thousands of feet in the air. It’s difficult to see the control panel, or anything else for that matter. It’s a serious scenario, but there is a product that can help.
“A power outage in the air isn’t out of the ordinary,” said Veeral Solanki, a graduate student at New Mexico State University. “The power will go out for many pilots at least once in their careers.”
Solanki is working toward a master’s degree in electrical engineering as well as an MBA with specialization in information systems. He is part of a team of about 20 graduate assistants working at NMSU’s Arrowhead Center, a corporation designed to help small businesses have a better chance at success.
The majority of Solanki’s work is with FLITELite, a company based in El Paso and just one of a number of Arrowhead Center business clients. FLITELite’s founders are pilots. Their product is a “lip light” that they already have on the market.
The light can be attached to a microphone headset in front of a pilot’s mouth, ready to be turned on quickly when needed. Three small lights on the end of the device shine directly in front of the pilot and allow him or her to see in case of emergency. FLITELite’s makers tout its brightness and long battery life.
The light is touch- and light-sensitive and will go off after 60 seconds to conserve the battery power. It can be used by airplane and helicopter pilots. Solanki’s mission is to help FLITELite find its place in the market.
“This is innovative. This is important for pilots,” said Solanki. “This can save pilots’ lives.”
Arrowhead Center has a number of specialized functions. Solanki said most of his work focuses on conducting market research and similar services for companies. During Solanki’s market analysis for FLITELite, he researched the potential market to figure out how the product would fit in. He looked at the number of pilot headset manufacturers. He considered how FLITELite would need to be adapted to fit each model.
Another area Solanki researched is how many pilots register for training each year and how that might help increase the product’s market.
Solanki said FLITELite currently has an advantage in terms of Internet marketing and presence. Solanki analyzed Google keywords for the headset and lip light industry and recommended which keywords to include in FLITELite’s Web page. He also implemented other special Internet search and marketing features. These steps allow FLITELite’s page to appear near the top of searches for pages in that category. It also appears on the suggested Web sites list on the first page in Google.
“This is a significant achievement for the Internet marketing strategy for FLITELite,” Solanki said. “For them, Internet marketing was important, to be able to provide information and sales.”
Dave Simeur, the managing partner of FLITELite, said the Internet work provided by Arrowhead saved the company more than $40,000 in marketing costs.