TRAX has been shifting more of its MRO software users to its eMobility solution in 2018, according to managing director Chris Reed. Going mobile itself brings benefits, and it is usually associated with a movement toward paperless operations with digital documents replacing hardcopies.
Still, the business case must be made, and it depends partly on scale. Going mobile has some variable costs, for instance $500 per iPad for each user. But there are also upfront fixed costs for software, changing processes and training. The more aircraft a carrier has to recoup benefits on, the better the business case looks.
But an airline does not have to be very large to justify going mobile. For example Canada’s FirstAir, with 17 aircraft, found this approach attractive.
The costs of going mobile are known upfront, but an airline must estimate the benefits. “What is the benefit of a manager or mechanic sitting in his canteen and knowing in advance about a defect so he can do an evaluation, look up the right manuals and prepare to fix it at the gate?” Reed asks.
And one advantage of going mobile is the ability to replace paper with digital documents. For example, defects entered into electronic tech logs in cockpits can be transmitted to mechanics’ iPads, which also contain manuals and procedures. When the job is done, sign-offs and e-documents can be sent back to pilots.
Reed says his e-mobility customers are in different stages of going paperless. “Some have gotten rid of paper, and some run paper and mobile in parallel. Some print out paper documents from digital ones at the end.” MROs can use digital task cards, but some leasing companies still want paper documents in the end.
E-documents require e-signatures, and TRAX supports a variety of these, including fingerprints, PIN codes, passwords, facial recognition and pilots’ written signatures on iPads.
Going mobile can be done in as little as two to three months, Reed says, but larger airlines with thousands of people to train may take up to nine months.