SINGAPORE—Using paper-based documentation for aircraft lease transactions adds several hundred thousand dollars to each deal, but paper won’t be replaced by digital until either airlines and civil aviation authorities step in and agree on a path forward.
Speaking at MRO Asia, AerCap SVP Jock Seals said his company spent an average of about $350,000 per deal using paper in the last year.
“If you transfer the savings we could have seen using paperless documentation to the 116 aircraft we handled in the last 12 months, that could have saved us $41 million,” he said.
The challenge, he said, is that many civil aviation authorities (CAA) are waiting for the airlines to say, “that’s what we want,” while the airlines are reluctant to move to all-digital systems or to ask CAAs “in case they say ‘no,’” Seals explained.
Paperless documentation system vendor FLYdocs agreed, saying the current requirement to deliver boxes of printed-out certificates and paper trails is both costly and comically outdated.
“We need to move from the Dark Ages when it comes to compliance documentation,” said FLYdocs Senior Technical Manager Steve Haxell.
Haxell said it is not unusual to have an aircraft handover from a leasing company delayed by several months simply because the required documentation was either missing or incorrect. “There are no standards, and there need to be,” he said.
Seals pointed out that simply using scanned-in copies of paper certifications already saves considerable time and cost, but that moving to fully digital systems—where standard documents could be filled in with a standard format, electronically—would make a huge difference.
“The FAA is fully behind this, and [the European Aviation Safety Agency] is gradually coming on board,– but we need [international] standards to make it happen,” he added.
The Director, Electronic Data Standards for ATA’s e-Business, Ken Jones, noted that with some 40% of the world’s aircraft fleet now leased and the figure rising, the problem will only grow worse until paperless compliance is pushed.
Jones cited the example of Cathay Pacific, which he said is working very hard to move to an all-digital documentation system across its aircraft.
“This won’t happen all at once,” he said. “We would like to see a hybrid system adopted initially, with some digital and some document-based. But it’s going to take some time,” he said.