Viasat Commercial Aviation Blog

What are the different categories of airline document management systems?

ViaSat-Document-Management-product-pic-090317-5What problems do airline document management systems solve?

Picture yourself on the flight deck, tired after a trans-Pacific night flight. A warning light pings on...

Airlines have very specific needs when it comes to ensuring that pilots and other personnel have access to the correct documentation. From an OEM manual to an airline's complete set of operational manuals, clarity and visibility are essential requirements. Without the correct information, it is harder for flight crews to quickly make the right decision every time.

Airline document management system categories

Now learn more about the different document management categories.

1. Paper

Bill_Breakdown_Complex_004Many pilots still carry anything up to 30kg of paper manuals onto the aircraft. Paper worked well for decades, but its drawbacks include:

  • Difficulty in finding content quickly;
  • No control over distributed copies or revisions;
  • The ongoing fuel cost incurred by carrying the weight of paper manuals around on every sector. Also adds to GHG emissions unnecessarily;
  • If the pilot wrote notes on manuals for future reference, they don't survive the revision;
  • Did the pilot even get the latest revision?

Digital transformation is not just a buzzword: transitioning from paper to digital document formats genuinely transforms our relationship with information and how we can use it more effectively.

2. Consumer-grade software

iPad_Complex_001After the introduction of the iPad in 2010, some airlines opted for a 'cheap and cheerful' approach to digitising their cockpit documents, with standard word processing software and consumer-quality document viewers, often using FTP protocols to distribute PDFs generated by the word processor. It's digital yes, but it is a leaky system that's hard to make compliant, and misses out on many of the benefits that digital can deliver, including a great pilot user experience on iPad and full control over distribution and tracking of manuals and revisions.

3. Legacy XML system

Service_Management_Complex_001There are some legacy software systems that can deliver the nextgen digital document advantages of XML. In computing, Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable. Among the benefits that XML manuals deliver to pilots are stored annotations, scope search and delta downloads. Unfortunately, legacy XML editing tools often have a really steep learning curve and a poor user experience. As they have been built for general use, they are not designed around the needs of aviation professionals. The distribution of manuals and revisions typically must be handled by a different system.

Simplified_Commercial_Airliner_Complex4. Aviation-grade, regional-scale system

Some providers have looked at the specific problems that need to be addressed in aviation, such as regulatory compliance and OEM editing, and delivered solutions that can be deployed into a smaller operation. Pricing by number of users and technological limitations mean that these systems may have difficulty scaling.

5. Outsourced solution

People_Complex_001Outsourced solutions require the airline to submit revisions - typically on marked PDFs - to their provider, which then uses XML editors (often outsourced by the provider) to do the edits. This solution is slow and prone to error, as revisions will have to pass back and forth between all the parties on multiple occasions. There is also potential for security leaks, as the airline never knows exactly who has access to its operational manuals.

6. Aviation-grade, enterprise-scale system (Viasat AeroDocs)

Trophy_Complex_001Larger air operations may have thousands of pilots, tens of thousands of staff, and an enormous number of live documents in the system. Enterprise document management in aviation requires a cloud-based (or sometimes self-hosted) product that can stand up reliably for thousands of simultaneous users who are often dispersed in multiple locations, enable collaboration between teams, integrate with roster systems and external regulators (CAA), and ensure regulatory compliance at scale.

AeroDocs is the scalable system that delivers the best user experience

We understand how important the need for robust, intuitive, connected airline document management is, so that's why Viasat AeroDocs is positioned in the enterprise category. It is a scalable system, and it delivers a superb user experience.

We can demonstrate how this aviation-grade, enterprise software can resolve the requirement to securely and visibly ensure that all personnel in your operation always have the right content in the right place at the right time. AeroDocs delivers quality, collaboration, accessibility, cost-effectiveness and usability.

AeroDocs value-adds

Among the value-adds that AeroDocs brings to an air operation are:

Quality - From the quality of our code, to the quality of our dedicated support, we aim for the highest standards. Our attention to detail helps your airline to maintain exacting quality standards, right across the operation.

Collaboration - Working together makes us more effective and more productive. By enabling collaboration between dispersed teams, AeroDocs drives efficiencies and enables the effective sharing of your operation's knowledge.

Accessibility - AeroDocs is a web-based system, so teams can access it from any device with web access, to edit, distribute or view documents and manuals. The native iOS and Windows viewers also have offline capabilities.

Cost-effectiveness - Because AeroDocs solves many problems for an airline, often replacing multiple systems, its cost benefits can be measured. There is also the added benefit of working with a single supplier, with a clear path to support during deployment, training and ongoing operations.

Usability - AeroDocs is built by UX (User eXperience) and UI (User Interface) professionals, who work with commercial pilots and flight operations personnel to ensure that the product is intuitive, responsive and easy-to-use. Register for a full test deployment in your operation to appreciate just how quickly your teams can complete complex tasks using our software.

What's next?

Sign up for a test deployment of AeroDocs in your air operation, just click on the orange button to tell us more about your needs...

AeroDocs trial request

Learn more about AeroDocs here.

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