Vistair solutions creating platforms for innovation in airline safety management

Aviation professionals representing airlines from around Europe gathered in London for Vistair’s fourth SafetyNet users’ conference.

SafetyNet, Vistair’s fully featured safety investigation solution, was developed as a direct result of the airline industry’s desire to revolutionise the management of safety whilst keeping the process simple.

SAS, Norwegian, easyJet and Flybe were just some of the businesses who attended the event, held in the Radisson Blu Hotel next to Heathrow Airport.

Steve Hayward, aircraft systems manager at easyJet, gave a presentation about how the airline was improving efficiency and safety using “Standards Assurance Checklists” one of the audit functions within SafetyNet.

Steve explained that, in essence, this was a quick and easy way of developing new checklists, about anything from ramp safety compliance to galley loading, which are then sent to managers/users/third parties to electronically complete.

He said benefits included:

  • Removal of paper from the operation
  • Saves managers’ time entering manual checklists into spreadsheets
  • Flexibility being used for checklists that were not previously thought about

He continued: “This allows business areas within easyJet the opportunity to perform checks on operational activities ensuring standards and procedures are met at the highest level.

“This is adapted for use within a wide range of easyJet’s operational departments from flight ops to cabin ops, from IT to engineering.”

The Standards Assurance Checklists are also used by the airline’s senior management to understand where a procedure/process under inspection is falling down by searching for all checklist items that have failed the check and how many, fleet-wide, have also failed a particular checklist item.

Examples of the type of checklists that are being used by easyJet, and by whom, include:

  • Ramp safety compliance check (ground ops)

  • Emergency response operational checklist (ground ops)

  • Cabin crew briefing check (cabin ops)

  • Cabin pre-flight check (cabin ops)

Steve added that, since the April “go live” date, there has been:

  • A total of 2,700 standards assurance checklists completed

  • 267 completed since August

  • 300 (and counting) completed since October

Steve finished by saying feedback about the checklists had been “extremely positive”.

He added: “People like the simplicity of the system, and we have had requests for all kinds of uses for this system within easyJet, the latest one being a ‘mystery customer’ program where an external user can log on and complete a ‘flight customer experience’ checklist.”

The next speaker was Bob Horton, General Manager – Jets at Flybe, to talk about a brand new Electronic TechLog innovation the airline was developing alongside Vistair.

Bob started with a demonstration of Flybe’s iPad EFB project, which began with a Document Viewer app (Vistair’s DocuNet solution) and which was CAA-approved following a two-month trial period following the submission of over 2,000 pilot feedback forms.

Turning to the new ETechLog app, Bob first outlined issues with the traditional paper-based Technical Log systems, which included:

  • Costly printing and distribution

  • Proneness to error when tech log data is rekeyed into MRO and Accounting systems

  • Significant delays getting aircraft data onto MRO system

  • Makes repetitive defect tracking difficult

  • Manpower intensive

  • Items missed by engineers and pilots

In contrast, he continued, the benefits of an electronic TechLog are enormous, such as the ability to:

  • Negate printing and distribution costs

  • Reduce input error

  • Reduce manpower effort

  • Halt operations of any open items

  • Facilitate real-time data capture

  • Perform efficient repetitive defect tracking

  • Perform financial data capture/audit

Bob said: “Too often online solutions for airlines are created by generic, one-size-fits-all software houses. However, the development of this new Electronic TechLog product saw early engagement with both the pilot and engineering side with project management by Vistair.

“As a result this Electronic TechLog is truly a product developed by engineers and pilots for use by engineers and pilots.”

In keeping with all of Vistair’s leading edge solutions for the airline industry the new e-TechLog application has been developed to be as simple and intuitive to use as possible. For example, every time a pilot logs in all his or her duties are immediately downloaded to populate the ETL automatically.

It also provides the ability for pilots to electronically hand-over to an engineer for any defect rectification or simply for routine maintenance.

Although well down the development route, the ETechLog application is still being trialled by Flybe and Bob outlined the next stages of testing.

“The next step will be full integration with the MRO system (AMOS) to allow uplink of scheduled maintenance,” he said. “There will also be journey log implementation, ancillary forms, such as SafetyNet, together with a dispatch guide for pilots and automatic ACF procedure.”

Bob finished by saying that although there were already rival e-tech log systems on the market this new ETechLog would be easier to use, lower in cost and much better equipped in terms of powerful functionality.

“It really is a superb piece of kit which will help to make airlines altogether more efficient whilst improving safety,” he added.

Also discussed on the day was a new social media site, called AirSafetyCentral, where any organisation within the aviation sector can join and share safety information as part of a community of like-minded professionals.

The site, which recently hit 100-members, was developed by Vistair purely as a free to join and use collaborative platform for aviation safety.

Ian Herbert, Vistair’s founder and CEO, said: “One of the great things about the airline industry is that, when it comes to safety, there is zero competition, just a commitment to driving up flight safety standards.

“We like to use these events to invite our many airline clients to get round the table and discuss the safety-related issues of the day, share information and look at how processes can be improved to boost all-round operational safety.”

He added: “Safety isn’t about who can be the best, it’s about being part of a community of like-minded professionals all motivated by a desire to harness the latest technology and use those tools to make the industry as safe as possible.”