Posted on: 06 October 2017
Martin Lidgard, founder and CEO of Web Manuals, gives details on the development of the company’s wide-ranging portfolio of services to the airline market.
What is Web Manuals, and what are the main benefits for a regional/low-fare airline or an MRO operator in digitising its aviation documents for its personnel?
Web Manuals is a cloud-based application that enables the simple writing, revising, publishing, distribution and control of an entire suite of aviation manuals. It replaces Microsoft Word for writing while allowing cross-referencing with EASA and FAA regulations, and gives managers, auditors and regulators the ability to review and approve online.
Airlines and operators have thousands of pages of manuals covering areas such as flight operations, maintenance, quality, safety and standard operating procedures for both staff and cabin crew. Keeping these up to date requires an incredible amount of time, let alone the additional work required for creating new manuals, forms and checklists. Moving these manuals to one online platform simplifies the whole process and makes much it easier to standardise operational documentation.
Efficiency is a key target here. Can you give specific examples of how the solution saves time and money?
Most of our customers report instant reductions in the time needed to keep manuals up to date and compliant. Making revisions using Word, or whichever other platform a customer was using previously, would involve lots of sending files back and forth between various stakeholders in a company. Using the Web Manuals application means manual editors can make their own amendments with the guarantee that the control of the manual is accurate, reducing the risk for human error and eliminating the need for constant cross-checking.
At a basic level, when using an application such as Word, a lot of time can be spent fiddling with formatting such as numbering in headers and footers, or ensuring revision numbers have been changed. Digitising the process completely removes the need for this.
Furthermore, the Web Manuals Compliance Libraries option allows customers to create live links between procedures in their manuals to individual rules in EASA and FAA regulations and aviation standards, ensuring they are immediately notified with any new regulation changes. In this way, when an EASA or FAA inspector wants to check compliance, the manual owner can simply open the compliance library and show all the references in that manual to the given regulation, removing the time spent searching through legal documents that are complex and most likely out of date.
How could the use of this software directly relate to helping an airline company grow?
When speaking to customers, I used to find it astonishing the man-hours required simply to maintain operations documents when doing so manually. A medium-size charter airline, for example, could have operations in a few different countries, with three or four people per location involved in document editing and around 20% of their time dedicated to this task.
Using the Web Manuals application could reduce this number to a single dedicated editor, so resource savings are instantly made. This also allows the subject matter experts from each department to be directly involved in their own manuals. I’m not going to say how our clients should run their businesses, but in theory an operator could redirect these resources to allow the company to address other challenges and growth opportunities.
WOW air is one of Web Manuals’ fastest-growing customers – to what extent is WOW air using the application and how has its experience been so far?
We have had an extremely positive response from WOW air, with over 1,000 users accessing the application. The company has just moved onto our most comprehensive package, Web Manuals Enterprise Edition, which we advise larger operators to use. As well as offering the same options as the standard package, such as web document authoring, publishing and distribution, the Enterprise Edition will also give WOW air access to functionalities suitable for larger organisations such as Active Directory user account synchronisation and our API server to allow integration with EFB providers and other systems.
How do you see the ongoing digitisation of the aviation sector evolving over the next five years? How far can advances in software like Web Manuals go in enabling airlines to further reduce costs and raise their operational efficiency levels?
The aviation industry is, and will continue to be, manuals-dependent, and as numerous aviation businesses struggle to keep up with the ever-accelerating changes to regulatory requirements, the digitisation of our sector will only continue. I think the barrier for most people is fully understanding the importance of how digitisation enables them to be more agile and quick to respond to changes. As competition between operators becomes even fiercer, the survivors will be those who are able to adapt quickly to new regulatory, operational and technical opportunities. It’s a matter of digitise and succeed, or don’t – and fail.