5 considerations in going digital
By Jen Adams
21 March, 2016

gil-5-thingsFollowing a career spanning three decades in aviation and retail, more specifically surrounding data, Gil joined FLYdocs in November 2015 to further develop the business in the Americas. Gil is based near Montreal, Canada. We caught up with him last week at the Aircraft Commerce MRO and Flight Ops Conference in Miami to discuss what technology is hot in the airline industry.

I find it hard to believe that in 2016, a number of airlines and air operators I’ve spoken to are still working out of folders, bins and boxes searching for pertinent or critical documents manually!

Having spent time across the industry it’s become clear to me that some areas of aviation have adopted and embraced the benefits of technology at a completely different pace of others. For example, in the flight ops side EFBs (Electronic Flight Bags) have enabled the transition from paper charts and log books to e-charts and e-logs. This not only improved efficiency and ease of searching but it has delivered great return on investment.

We are finally seeing the same paradigm shift on the maintenance side.

It is looking to improve efficiency and lower costs with line maintenance technicians and engineers having a tablet or PED device to the complete eco-system surrounding their assets. More specifically their largest assets being aircraft and all their related components.

Airlines and Air operators are eventually realising that they need to follow in the footsteps of the Ops side of the organisation and review their existing processes and look at improving the processes surrounding aircraft data and records management. This could partly be down to the complexity of the Engineering Maintenance side compared to Ops which does allow Ops to drive change at a faster rate.

There’s simply more to do in Engineering overall when all of the data drivers and transactional factors over the life of the asset are taken into account.

Just last week I was with an operator who was receiving a number of new B-787s coming on lease and they initially questioned if they should bother doing the back to birth scan of all aircraft documents. The answer in my eyes is ‘absolutely yes’.

When a new aircraft is entered into service this is the best time to start capturing all data right from the onset and maintain this data going forward until the aircraft is returned to the lessor or even if the aircraft is owned by the airline. It brings huge value from an ownership/ resale perspective to prospective buyers and protects the value of the asset for any lessor, who in turn will work more closely with the operator in tandem.

There is often a lack of awareness or understanding of the significance of costs savings that are achieved having all the data at your fingertips in an electronic format.

Here are some things to consider that will help get your organisation to adopt and realise the benefits of truly digital records management…

1. The ROI

A strong business case can be created when you perform a side by side comparison of costs and times allotted to perform tasks that are relative to these records. Your present process may involve partial scanning of your aircraft records or none whatsoever. Either scenarios will yield significant savings when you implement a fully digital “back to birth” scan of your records that is then maintained going forward.

2. Complete digital aircraft lease return package

Did you know you can now perform a complete digital aircraft lease return package with absolutely no paper involved at all? This not only will save you time (in almost all cases preventing lease penalties or extensions) but it will also improve the working relationship with your lessor and your lease return consultants.

3. Consider the Lessor perspective

Many airlines think that Lessors will be pushing back on having Electronic records. This is the complete opposite. Lessors actually prefer to have their documents/lease returns electronically. This usually ends up being a cost saving since many lessors will not have to send a resource onsite saving them thousands of dollars.

4. Continuity of processes throughout the ecosystem

Another segment of the industry that is adopting digital aircraft records are MROs. Many airlines use 3rd party MROs for their maintenance and it’s important to have continuity of processes within their ecosystem. MROs are starting to offer aircraft records in a digital format for all work processed in order to differentiate themselves to their competition. The only issue is many MROs send the airline/air operator a brick of PDFs on a disk or hard drive which are in no apparent order which in turn become a nightmare for airlines/air operators to search. Having a repository or structured document management system alleviates these issues.

5. Leveraging your big data

I’ve worked in Big Data for some of North America’s largest companies and the issues they encountered are also faced by airlines and air operators. The key is to have all relevant data available in the proper format at the right time and displayed in a user friendly GUI-Interface so that this massive pile of data becomes useful. Speed at which one searches Big Data as well is critical. One should be able to search millions of lines of records in 100ths of seconds similar to a Google search.

Overall I’m excited about the future of Digital Aircraft Records Management and bringing technology to the forefront of an area within airlines and air operators that will see the proper use of big data for aircraft records and reduce the amount of stores folders, bins and boxes. After all – this is 2016 – and there is no rhyme or reason why we should still be searching manually for records or data, or, going even further, why we should still be transacting aircraft in an old fashioned paper form.

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