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More than an EFB project – Aer Lingus Electronic Flight Bag case study

Paul Stanley, EFB Project Manager and Capt. Eamon Kierans, Manager Flight Operations Compliance, Aer Lingus share an EFB case study with an eye to broader airline connectivity

Aer Lingus EFB case study

Aer Lingus Electronic Flight Bag implementation team

The EFB program at Aer Lingus follows in a long tradition of innovative IT applications:  Aer Lingus has always been in the vanguard of IT in commercial aviation, having been the first company in Ireland to operate a mainframe computer in the early 1960s. By  the mid-sixties the airline was part of a group of operators to develop and implement IPARS (international programmable airline reservation system) reservation and check-in system and has continued to be an innovator ever since, including being an early adopter with web presence in the early 1990s, and an early online booking engine. So it was quite in character when Aer Lingus looked at digital information systems in 2006 and, in 2007, considered the possibilities for EFB.

However, we quickly realized that even if we had been able to immediately implement EFB in the cockpits it would not have been possible to use it because we were not prepared with the necessary supporting capabilities on the ground, in the back office… in our administration functions. Of course, we knew that there would be major benefits from EFB including the paperless cockpit and improved distribution of content which, in turn, would support better compliance and the streamlining of processes: but, in light of the lack of supporting capability already mentioned, we were finding it difficult to build a business case.

It was decided that the best approach would be to break the program into different phases. This, it was felt, would minimize the risk to each phase, allow us to assess feedback for each individual phase and maximize the cost effectiveness of implementation.


PHASE 1:

ELECTRONIC DOCUMENT IMPLEMENTATION

 

The first phase, which commenced in 2007 and ran to 2011, was to implement an electronic document authoring and content management system and to assess the benefits of digital delivery. It was during this phase that we started to work with Arconics, using their applications and expertise as we progressed along the program. At the outset, we already had pilot and cabin crew portals that had been built in-house and were maintained by the airline’s Cabin Crew and Pilot section. The first decision was to replace those portals with a new content management system (CMS), implementing an XML authoring application so that we could move to electronic manuals and a simplified editing process — a number of past features in Aircraft IT have explained the benefits of XML authoring.

Before embarking on this, we went through a process to define our requirements from which an RFP (Request for Proposal) enabled us to consider a number of vendors. As a result of this process, Arconics was selected to supply two of their web based tools… Manual Manager, which is a guided XML authoring tool and PublishPort, Arconics’ content management system, from which we developed new pilot and cabin crew portals. These first implementations went live in the first quarter of 2009 and any implementation issues that arose were quickly dealt with by the Arconics and Aer Lingus teams overseeing the program.

mel_&_aerlingus_screen

MEL manual & Aerlingus Portal

The extent to which the implementation was a success can be judged from the fact that we soon felt able to develop additional functionality so that PublishPort is now used to support all portals in Aer Lingus and the staff intranet.

By 2011, Aer Lingus had digitized most of the key manuals including FCOM (Flight Crew Operations Manual), MEL (Minimum Equipment List), OMA (Operations Manual Part A) and ACSP (Air Carrier Security Program). A number of content types were also digitized, including flight crew notices, cabin crew notices, airfield briefing sheets, rosters and flight briefing packs. Because it’s a single content management system, we can publish content once and it becomes available everywhere through all relevant portals.

Finally, we assessed the benefits that had been achieved from this phase of the program which included:

  • Lower documentation editing costs;
  • Reduced information distribution timescales;
  • Lower Flight Crew information production costs;
  • Lower information delivery costs;
  • Lower audit costs for compliance on proof of training evidence;
  • Reduced Flight Crew community workload with information more easily available through one portal;
  • Improved staff awareness;
  • Better crew situational awareness pre-flight;
  • Lower rostering costs.

These results were very encouraging and added confidence as we moved into the next phase.

PHASE 2:

CLASS 1 ELECTRONIC FLIGHT BAG IMPLEMENTATION

 

From 2011, the second phase of the program was to implement the Class 1 EFB solution using Windows. We had first needed to have a documentation system that was available on the ground, which we achieved with the new portals; by the time we set out on this second phase, every part of the airline had a portal that could be accessed through the intranet.

toughbook

The next step was to bring this all on board the airplane. In 2011, we got management approval but, at the time, class 2 devices to be viewable and available throughout all stages of the flight were very expensive: as a result we opted to get approval for a class 1 project using a laptop computer. The device that we chose was the Panasonic Toughbook for a number of reasons including that we knew that the case and the shape of it wasn’t going to change.

When we built a lockable docking station in the cockpit (to store the device during take-off and landing and while on the ground, and to charge the batteries) it was unlikely that we’d have to change that for a later generation of the device. We also used a local (Irish) company called Flightman for the device management software: but more important than being local, they had a good back end system that gave us tracking facilities which pleased our EFB administrator.

Based on the successful experience we’d had with the ground portals, we wanted to introduce the Electronic Flight Bag and bring onto it the Arconics Manual Manager and viewer system.

One reason for that was that Manual Manager uses XML documents and we also wanted these devices to be able to be updated using 3G.

Arconics has a system whereby we won’t need to run around aircraft with USBs to update the EFBs – that would be tedious and labor intensive – but will be able to update everything over 3G. After discussion with our mobile provider about stability, we have opted to use a more stable 3G M2M (machine to machine) secure private network platform managed service. Arconics’ system is able to compare new issues of manuals or documents with the previous issue to identify the differences so that it only needs to send the difference, the Delta changes, over 3G which makes for much lower 3G costs.

The software on the device has the capacity to replace the old version of a manual or document with the new amended version to be viewed. We used an in-house performance application called ALPS (Aer Lingus Performance System) which is also on the Toughbook. And we have set up an EFB administration in Aer Lingus’ Flight Operations Engineering Department where the head of performance engineering is also the EFB administrator who set up the EFB manual and accompanying procedures. Furthermore, we’ve designed SOPs (standard operating procedures) for the flight crew to use the devices which are assigned to aircraft rather than to pilots. There are two devices on each airplane, on the left and on the right, and they are registered to that aircraft so that, for sections such as the FCOM, only the information applicable to that specific aircraft will be displayed.

As far as the implementation was concerned, we wanted to achieve some specific cost savings including a reduction of the cost for producing paper manuals right across the organization, a reduction in the cost of distribution of manuals and notices and some cost improvements on the performance side with the ALPS performance calculator allowing us to use, for instance, optimal flap settings and being able to get better flexible take-off thrust figures for reduced power take-off.On the corporate side we needed to address some extra details. We have an electronic journey log that records all times – ‘off-gate’, ‘take-off ’, ‘landing’, etc. – as well as letting the flight crew enter reasons for delays, to support better data gathering and better analysis tools.

Also, on the ground handling side, we have a form for the flight crew to record if all the ground handling services that they’re supposed to get at the station where they have arrived were actually available and delivered. This helps our financial department when dealing with the ground handling services providers.

PHASE 3:

FULL MOBILE DEVICE IMPLEMENTATION

 

iPad_screenshots_notices&manuals

 

On completion of phase 2, the general view was that it had been a success, so much so that we got a lot of feedback from crews including that they wanted some information to be available off the aircraft. This was largely because we had decided to fix our EFBs in the cockpit but the flight crew wanted access to items like the flight briefing packs in advance of arriving in the cockpit or even arriving in the operations area at the airport.

This is particularly useful for overnight crew stays at stations such as New York or Chicago where they can download their flight plan briefing pack onto a mobile device and even be reading it on the bus to the airport to get the information in advance.

This works really well and for that project we decided that the iPad would be the best device and we’re now feeding the information that the crew needs also onto an iPad so that they can have access to everything, on the ground, before they even arrive at the airport. We selected Arconics again for this based on their proven success with the ground operations portal. We also thought it would be best to transfer that onto a mobile platform which Arconics built for us to give mobile devices access to all of the information on the ground portal.

Based on the successful experience we’d had with the ground portals, we wanted to introduce the EFB and bring onto it the Arconics Manual Manager and viewer system. One reason for that was that Manual Manager uses XML documents and we also wanted these devices to be able to be updated using 3G: including flight plans, weather information, security information… everything coming from our flight planning system plus some extra information from engineering about defects on the airplane and where the airplane is parked.

 

iPad_screenshots

During 2014 we issued iPads to all pilots based on a business case that saw further improvements in costs. Aircraft cost savings came from a reduced cockpit workload with improved crew awareness and preparation as a result of having more time to assimilate the information provided, plus there’s a growing body of information available digitally. The mobility aspect of the program, using iPads, started to be implemented with the third phase which commenced in 2012 and which, with the second (EFB implementation) phase is continuing in the current year.

WAS IT A SUCCESS?

 

Overall we’d say yes, the EFB program in Aer Lingus has been a success. It was a pleasant surprise for us when the crews requested the information to be available outside of the cockpit (see phase 3 above). We had decided to make the actual EFB devices ‘aircraft assigned’ to give us better control over the ships’ library and to ensure that the devices were always with the aircraft to avoid any delays in dispatching. However, we’ve revisited this to add in pilot mobility.

As with any program, this one did encounter some problems including that the docking station supplier went out of business. Fortunately, we have enough units for the whole fleet but have had to locate new sources for spares and to carry out repairs. This was a project that ran for two years until completion in 2014 and, at the start we were dealing with very new technology. There were also some teething problems with software and the 3G communications, requiring rapid team responses to deliver remediation and a re-platform of infrastructure (see above).

We worked with our suppliers on these issues and they were very supportive to the extent that we now have the regulator’s approval to remove the paper manuals from the airplane and have the confidence to be able to do that. Approval was granted during December 2014 and we are now proceeding to remove the paper manuals from the aircraft. This will remove 35-40 kilos of weight from each aircraft.

iPads, while they met one of the crews’ own requirements, were initially a cause for concern with pilots and their unions worried whether, as trackable devices, they would allow the airline to invade an individual’s privacy. We overcame this with a number of assurances from management. Other issues included working with the commercial department to release aircraft for the new equipment to be installed and we have had to extend the scope of the program to take account of new aircraft entering the fleet.

BENEFITS FROM THE CHANGES

 

Some of the gains enjoyed by Aer Lingus and its staff from the EFB and associated technologies program have already been mentioned above. We’re also moving to optimal flap settings in early 2015, although this will be a bias rather than an absolute rule so that pilots will continue to have the final say.

And while pilots might have had reservations about the EFB at the outset (when they had to work with the old and new systems in parallel, to meet the regulator’s requirements, and were still learning the new processes) the digitization strategy now enjoys high levels of acceptance among flight crews.

Once the privacy issues had been ironed out (see above) the iPad with Arconics’ software has become completely embedded in the organization and is regarded by pilots as a given in the support they get from Aer Lingus. This will be helpful in any future additions that we make to the system on the ground or in the cockpit.

aerodocs_distribution

LESSONS LEARNED

 

Following the program, we have made a few notes to ourselves for future projects starting with the need to spend time properly capturing the requirements that the project has to meet and to ensure adequate risk reduction on the new technology integration – to avoid exposing the operation to risk. It’s also important to be very careful when selecting suppliers to be sure that they’re adaptable and can work with an airline when its operation might generate particular needs that are not standard to, say, a vendor’s software. Don’t underestimate the effort involved in testing the software, communications and processes, and updates and processes to ensure they work well enough to replace the paper.

And remember that it will be important to work hardto bring the staff along with any changes, even if they are resistant at the outset, and to involve the regulator at every stage because, without regulatory approval, the program won’t fly.

Finally, the involvement of IT at every stage is critically important given the reliance on servers and communications systems, and for the provision of back-up and fallback capabilities.

NEXT STEPS

The next development for Aer Lingus will be to move to a class 2 EFB with a tablet PC mounted in the cockpit but a Windows device not an iPad because it will be easier to integrate. We’re also going to install an interface device in the aircraft which will be able to access the ARINC (Aeronautical Radio INC) data from the data buses on the airplane.

Our ultimate objective is a fully paperless cockpit with electronic charting (including ‘own ship’s position’) to be introduced over the next two years and an electronic flight folder with the integrated information flow that will need.

The business case for this has been approved and the next phase will commence in the first quarter of 2015. iPads, while they met one of the crews’ own requirements, were initially a cause for concern with pilots and their unions worried whether, as trackable devices, they would allow the airline to invade an individual’s privacy. We overcame this with a number of assurances from management.

Cathay Pacific selects Arconics

Cathay Pacific selects Arconics Aerodocs EFB Digital Library

Arconics are pleased to announce that Cathay Pacific has selected the company’s AeroDocs EFB Digital Library for installation on all e-Enabled aircraft with deployment commenced in January 2015.

The best-in-class Digital Library will be available on Class 3 EFBs on the flight deck.

AeroDocs Digital Library enables pilots to access and search manuals and documents, allowing fast search, real-time updating, and offline access. Cathay Pacific administrators on the ground get real-time visibility and control of the distribution process, ensuring that all aircraft are updated and that all pilots have access to the current version of documents. Arconics will also integrate AeroDocs into existing Cathay Pacific systems to minimize the operational overhead and assure consistency across all systems.

Of the agreement, Arconics CEO Niall O’Sullivan said:Cathay Pacific selects Arconics

‘We’re thrilled that Cathay Pacific has selected our AeroDocs Digital Library to power EFBs on eEnabled Aircraft. We see measurable benefits for Cathay Pacific with AeroDocs EFB and we’re looking forward to seeing those benefits realised as part of a mutually successful partnership’.

ABOUT ARCONICS

Arconics, through its aircraft e-Enablement platform helps airlines increase revenues, reduce costs and improve safety and compliance with mobile apps and powerful enterprise software and turnkey solutions.

Arconics was founded in 2001. Since our first software deployment that year, many operators of commercial, private and military aircraft worldwide have chosen our software to help them better manage their operations.

Arconics is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, with an Asia-Pacific office in Sydney, Australia.

AeroDocs EFB delivers critical documents and operational information to flight crews via mobile apps and onboard Electronic Flight Bags, allowing them to work more safely and efficiently. Integrated authoring, tracking and reporting reduce the cost and complexity of the entire publication and compliance cycle.

PaxApp delivers critical documents and operational information to cabin crews via mobile apps, allowing them to do their jobs more efficiently and address all issues related to cabin management with their ground based colleagues.

CloudStore IFE provides entertainment content, retail and advertising to passengers on mobile devices. It allows the airline to control, measure and personalize the experience in real time plus maximize engagement and ancillary revenue.

PRESS CONTACT:   Michael Reilly | VP Avionics + Entertainment
T: +61 410 59 64 74 | E: michael.reilly@arconics.com

Arconics at Flight Operations Conference

Arconics at the 8th Annual Flight Operations Conference

Arconics at the 8th Annual Flight Operations Conference

Arconics will be exhibiting at the 8th Annual Flight Operations Conference on 2nd & 3rd December 2014 in Frankfurt. We’re at booth E29 showcasing enterprise data management platforms and mobile app solutions for managing flight related data for the aviation industry.

AeroDocs is a hosted product suite that provides aircraft operators with a totally modular solution for EFB’s and Document Management across Web and Mobile devices as well as Class 1, 2 and 3 EFB’s in the flight deck.

PaxApp offers a paperless approach to cabin management, allowing crew to complete any process digitally be it routine or incident based. Such data can include Pax Manifests, VIP Pax Data, Loyalty Program Data, Special Assistance Needs, Cabin Defects, Medical and Incident Reports, Meal Manifests, Crew Rostering Interface, Crew Notices, Forms and Manuals and just about any other requirement to assist airlines improve efficiency and service.

We’ve been working with the world’s most successful airlines for 13 years, and we’d be delighted to show you how Arconics can sharpen your competitive edge.

To book a meeting, send an email to sales@arconics.com and we’ll get in touch with you to arrange a hands-on demo.

About 8th Annual Flight Operations Conference

The 8th Annual Flight Operations Conference is the world’s leading Flight Operations event and focuses wholly on the key, strategic issues that effect the operating of commercial aircraft.

arconics team

2014 EFB Users Forum

Arconics at the EFB Users Forum and Expo

Arconics will be exhibiting at the EFB Users Forum and Expo on 11th November 2014 in Rome. We’re at booth 15 showcasing AeroDocs.

AeroDocs is a hosted product suite that provides aircraft operators with a totally modular solution for EFB’s and Document Management across Web and Mobile devices as well as Class 1, 2 and 3 EFB’s in the flight deck.

We’ve been working with the world’s most successful airlines for 13 years, and we’d be delighted to show you how Arconics can sharpen your competitive edge.

To book a meeting, send an email to sales@arconics.com and we’ll get in touch with you to arrange a hands-on demo.

About Airline & Aerospace EFB Users Forum IX

This activity is a coordinating activity among airlines, cargo carriers and other aircraft operators. Aircraft manufacturers, regulators, EFB suppliers, and others are invited to participate in the discussion of EFB issues of mutual interest.

General topics of discussion:

  • Operational Issues and Experiences
  • Communication Interfaces
  • Architecture and Installation Issues
  • Data input Devices, Terminals, Displays, Interactive Devices
  • Application Software Programs
  • Connectivity
  • Regulations
  • Tablet Devices and Integration

For more information about the EFB Users Forum click here.

 

arconics team

eEnablement Arconics

Arconics at the Aircraft eEnablement Conference

Arconics at the Aircraft eEnablement Conference

Arconics will be exhibiting at the Aircraft eEnablement (Connectivity & IFE) Conference  1st & 2nd October 2014 in London Heathrow. We’re at booth E2 showcasing CloudStore, AeroDocs and PaxApp.

CloudStore is a platform that allows the airline to truly control and measure the passenger experience in real time, to personalize the offering, and to maximize engagement and ancillary revenues. CloudStore IFE can host a wide range of premium services such as movies and TV shows, e-commerce, games, music,  food and beverage, surveys, internet access and any other service the customer requires.  It allows passengers to purchase goods and services before, during and after the flight and the airline to offer more purchasing opportunities.

AeroDocs is a hosted product suite that provides aircraft operators with a totally modular solution for EFBs and Document Management across Web and Mobile devices as well as Class 1, 2 and 3 EFBs in the flight deck.

PaxApp offers a paperless approach to cabin management, allowing crew to complete any process digitally be it routine or incident based. Such data can include Pax Manifests, VIP Pax Data, Loyalty Program Data, Special Assistance Needs, Cabin Defects, Medical and Incident Reports, Meal Manifests, Crew Rostering Interface, Crew Notices, Forms and Manuals and just about any other requirement to assist airlines improve efficiency and service.

We’ve been working with the world’s most successful airlines for 13 years, and we’d be delighted to show you how Arconics can sharpen your competitive edge.

Come see our CEO Niall O’Sullivan speak at the conference about “Real-Time Flight Data Monitoring” at 14:15 2nd of October.

To book a meeting, send an email to sales@arconics.com and we’ll get in touch with you to arrange a hands-on demo.

About Aircraft eEnablement (Connectivity & IFE) Conference

Airlines are increasingly paying more attention to eEnablement processes (within the flight deck, cabin and on the ground). With new aircraft such as the 787 Dreamliner and the A350 entering service, it increases the need for airlines to establish total connectivity strategies for all modern commercial aircraft types.

The Aircraft eEnablement Connectivity & IFE Conference was the first event of its kind to cover complete nose to tail connectivity. The aim of the conference is to help all airline departments to understand the operational benefits and revenue opportunities available with connected aircraft.

arconics team

Michael Reilly

Arconics welcomes Michael Reilly onboard

Arconics expands into the Asia-Pacific and welcomes Michael Reilly onboard.

Arconics are delighted to announce the establishment of their presence in the Asia-Pacific market and the corresponding appointment of IFE industry veteran Michael Reilly to the management team as VP, Avionics and Entertainment.

Michael joins the company at a key time, as Arconics launches its CloudStore wireless IFE platform, which has been under development since 2011.

Michael has 15 years experience in the IFE industry, most recently as Chief Operating Officer for Stellar Entertainment, where he played a key role in the growth of the company to global leadership, including the establishment of five international offices and drove the adoption by airlines of new IFE technologies including tablets and wireless systems.

Michael will be based in Sydney. He will lead the expansion of Arconics key products, CloudStore IFE and AeroDocs EFB into the Asia-Pacific market, and provide expertise to Arconics clients globally.

Of his appointment Michael says: ‘I’m thrilled to join the Arconics team and to be continuing my work in the aviation industry. CloudStore is a few steps ahead of the game; it’s a powerful platform for engagement and ancillary revenue that puts the airline in full control. I am excited with the progressive thinking of the team, the advanced technology of the products and our ideas for the future’.

Arconics Chief Executive Officer Niall O’Sullivan says: ‘Michael’s credentials and vast experience in IFE technology, content and processes are a natural fit as we continue to grow our business and evolve our range of services to our customers. We are very pleased to welcome him to Arconics’.

aeec_logo

Arconics at the EFB Users Forum in Memphis

Arconics will be exhibiting at the EFB Users Forum, Memphis 13th & 15th May 2014 showcasing AeroDocs, a unique EFB document management solution for faster and easier publishing of Manuals, Notices, Forms and Flight briefing on to iPad, EFB Class 1, 2 & 3 and Web.

AeroDocs EFB suite reduces operational cost through streamlining cumbersome paper based processes. AeroDocs consist of a range of EFB modules covering manuals production, crew reporting, notices and Electronic Flight Folder distribution. The AeroDocs Digital Library is one of the EFB flagship solutions. It is an end to end manual publishing, compliance management, distribution and mobile app solution. Go to Aerodocs website to try AeroDocs iPad app for free.

If you would like to meet at the event please contact us or stop by booth 8. To access information on our innovative EFB technology please visit the Arconicswebsite or view EFB / iPad Documentation Management System webinar recording.

For conference details please go to EFB User Forum website.

Looking forward to see you there!

arconics team