Any airline organisation knows that there are numerous challenges and obstacles to overcome day-to-day, especially if your operations include managing a mixed fleet. However, mixed fleet document management challenges can often go unnoticed and operations may suffer as a result. In this article, we look at the eight key factors of an effective document management system that can help support mixed fleet airlines to overcome their challenges in different aspects of their operations such as:
- Mixed format delivery
- Personalisation of documents
- No ability to cross-reference mixed fleet manuals
- Support during manual revision peaks
- Improving lost utility
- Efficiency with incremental updates
- Consistency for documents
- Filtering OEM information
1. Mixed format delivery
Having manuals from multiple mixed aircraft which all lack consistency in formatting can pose another burden on pilots and crew, but also for regulators who will be looking for a level of standardised formatting. A good document management system can harmonise the management of all different documents and in a format that is acceptable to both the regulator and the users.
2. Personalisation of documents
One particular challenge for pilots is if that they want to annotate manuals with any important notes or information, they might manually write these into their physical documents. The issue with this of course, is that once that manual undergoes an update, the pilot’s personal copy would be out of date and would need to be replaced with a new version.
A document management system on the other hand can solve this challenge in providing pilots with the ability to personalise a cloud-native document instead. For instance, if a pilot had particular thoughts on the aspects and nuances of an aircraft, they could easily annotate those thoughts onto their personal copy of documentation in their document viewer for future reference. These digital annotations can then be synchronised and retained following any updates to the manual in future - making this a useful feature. Equally this is synchronised across all platforms in use i.e. iOS, iPad, Android, Windows.
3. Ability to cross-reference mixed fleet manuals in one place
A mixed fleet of course, means different kinds of manuals and there is a requirement for airlines to be able to cross reference their documentation successfully. Without this ability, they may be forced to manually retrieve the information required which could seriously impact time.
With a document management system, pilots and crew can readily view all relevant regulatory references of their mixed fleet manuals through detailed documentation of each Safety Attribution Inspection (SAI) and provide inspectors with the means for examining manuals to ensure they are complete, consistent and cross-referenced all in one place - meeting the ATOS standard.
Such a process that involves embedding the data at an editing level has huge benefits at the user level when an efficient document viewer is in use, thereby allowing cross manual searching, bookmarking, filtering (at user and tail level) and layering (i.e. the inclusion or exclusion of information depending upon viewing requirements).
4. Support during manual revision peaks
Manual revisions and new fleet introductions place an inordinate amount of stress on a publications team attempting to meet regulator deadlines. Especially when you consider the frequency of Boeing and Airbus updates coming through, these revision peaks can take their toll.
A document management system provides a more efficient platform for managing and accepting the changes to documents as there is an ability to compare and accept the amendments more swiftly.
Equally this system provides a platform for distribution to all users so that all of the up-to-date manuals are with all of the right flight crews at the right time. Distribution and monitoring management ensures flight operations is aware of who has taken receipt of the new documents.
5. Improving lost utility
Often, as a result of lack of support for in-house publications teams during revision peaks - technical pilots are redistributed into technical writer roles. This then causes an issue in lost utility and loss of operational costs. When you consider the average salary of a technical pilot in an airline consisting of a mixed fleet with 100+ tails, it can cost upwards of $100-$250K due to loss of utility.
A document management system with efficient amendment management ensures that SMEs / TPs only need to annotate changes on documents that require change…with the changes actually been made by professional editors. Sign off and full control is retained by the SMEs / TPs with oversight by Publications Managers.
6. Efficiency with incremental updates
As document management is a constant revision process throughout the year, it can cost an operation in time, money and resources when they need to publish and re-distribute updated manuals to the right people at the right time.
With a document management system incremental updates can be undertaken, making the whole document management process quicker and more efficient. Especially if you’re distributing PDFs via WiFi every time.
The number of airlines still distributing PDFs over the cloud and into regions with less than perfect WiFi remains disturbingly high. This is unnecessary with an efficient document management system.
7. Consistency for documents
For some airlines, there are regulatory requirements such as Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) which require the need for operations manuals to be “consistent and compatible in form and content.”
A document management system can satisfy consistency and update requirements, cutting down on time and administration. This means that airlines can create some standardization across all manuals. This ensures consistency for regulators for the AOC for each group of documentation. Additionally, it means that changes can also be made easily within a defined framework. For instance, a good document management system can do delta/incremental updates in a PDF which can then recognise the changes made and be approved and then can allow for hyperlinking to be built in.
8. Filtering OEM information
When it comes to mixed fleet flying, pilots can struggle in sifting through OEM documents to find only the relevant information needed for the type of aircraft they may be flying. This could very well impact on time in needing to manually sort through a myriad of information.
A good document management system on the other hand can allow you to obtain the right OEM information for the right aircraft by proving a filtering functionality that can be used with XML structured documents through an efficient document viewer. It’s a distinct benefit for pilots and speeding up an otherwise mundane process to ensure they only have the right information they need to hand with ease.
When it comes to managing documents for mixed fleets, the challenges and obstacles can be a barrier to efficient airline operations. In turn, this may impact all aspects such as costs and safety - so ensuring you have the right document management system is important.
If you’re looking for something more than just a tool to help manage your mixed fleet documents, consider using a document management system that can help you improve the engagement within your organisation as well as handling complex structured documents - providing you the support needed during peak revision times.
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