Flight Departments: Why Go Digital With Your Ops Manuals?

Aviation safety expert Mario Pierobon speaks with Centrik and Total AOC's Julian Tubb about the outdated methods many flight departments use to maintain their operations manuals, and the benefits to updating the way they work on these…

Mario Pierobon  |  13th July 2020
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    Mario Pierobon
    Mario Pierobon

    Mario Pierobon holds a Master’s Degree in Air Transportation Management from City University London,...

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    Changing to digital operations manuals within the flight department

    Is it really worth updating the way you work with your flight department's Operations Manuals? It can seem like a substantial effort to switch to digital from the traditional paper-based methods, but there are several good reasons to consider doing so...

    It almost goes without saying that operational documentation is an extremely important component of the certification requirement, and the entire management of any flight department. The documentation system will include operations manuals, checklists and crew training forms, among many others.

    This composite body of documentation is often complex and may be difficult to manage. However, information technology has streamlined the process of producing and keeping updated documentation in recent years, helping alleviate the pressure on flight departments that utilize such programs.

    What’s the Advantage of Maintaining High Quality Ops Manuals?

    According to Tubb, operation manuals are just as important within the Business Aviation sector as they are to the wider airline environment, where professional, consistent and concise documentation helps foster a professional attitude.

    “High-quality operations manuals accurately present relevant operator information in a dependable and timely fashion,” he says. “This helps to build stronger, more trust-based relationships with the competent authority, allowing for a more collaborative working relationship. 

    Crew training costs can also be greatly reduced through the use of predictable, well-structured and interactive documentation.”

    How to Streamline the Process

    With information technology, Business Aviation organizations are able to make the documentation management process more efficient, streamlining it. In recent years, operations manuals have been transitioning from paper-based systems to electronic.

    Yet, Tubb emphasizes this has often meant simply replicating the old approach via word processing software (thereby limiting the potential benefit that the digitization of documentation offers).

    “One of the main issues seen in these digital facsimiles is a lack of workflow procedures. Old habits from paper processing creeps in,” Tubb elaborates. 

    “For example, inconsistent and duplicated information, leading to bloated, badly formatted manuals with limited revision tracking.”

    Using an operational management system like Centrik can make the entire process significantly more efficient. “Operators can integrate workflow engines, assigning roles and responsibilities to manage content generation, updates and reviews, as well as extensive compliance-checking, right through to publication.

    “This all means that the production process can be significantly streamlined, dramatically increasing efficiency and resulting in high-quality, timely content.”

    Proper Digitization Improves Safety Performance

    An important by-product of well-implemented documentation is a positive contribution to safety performance within the Flight Department. For example, with documents more consistently updated to reflect any applicable change, they can also be more easily distributed to the users.

    “Well-designed, data-rich operations manuals can have a huge impact on safety, allowing for tighter compliance with myriad existing and any new regulations,” Tubb reflects.

    “Through Centrik’s Safety module, for example, operators can fully integrate and automatically monitor regulatory compliance, meaning all crew and ground staff have instant access to current, correct information when making safety decisions.

    “All relevant staff have instant access to this information through their own personal dashboard, meaning there’s no chance of contradictory or superseded content being used,” he adds.

    “Staff on-boarding and training is also massively simplified when using unambiguous and well-structured documentation, helping to deliver improved training performance at a lower cost.”

    Tubb says his company is currently developing the next generation of Operations Manuals to include structured data that can integrate and maintain all updates within them. This means that content would only need to be created once.

    “These can then be distributed to multiple manuals, across multiple platforms via desktop, personal device or to an electronic flight bag (EFB),” he says.

    “These advanced documents also have the ability to filter relevant content to individual readers (an approach that allows for better version and revision control) meaning changes can be activated when required with all old information rescinded automatically.”

    How to Move to Digital Ops Manuals

    The move to digital operations manuals will require a complete rethink for an operator, Tubb suggests. To produce the best operations manuals, skills should be focused on the actual information production, rather than formatting, compliance checking and publishing.

    “The best way to achieve this is through the use of an aviation-specific software solution or service,” he suggests. “Built from the ground-up and with an aviation focus, this uses robust processes to facilitate the creation, management, and publication of relevant information.”

    Overall, he argues, this will free up key resources, allowing flight department personnel to spend more time on creating better-quality, lower-cost operations manuals.

    More information from centrik.net

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