Join myairops for a question and answers session focused on US Corporate Flight Departments. Tim Ford, President of myairops, provides market insights in addition to providing a view on the challenges that corporate flight departments face and how a transition to a new platform could drive greater efficiencies.
How many CFD’s are there?
There are a large number of corporate flight departments within the United States alone. They range from organizations that may have a single aircraft to larger departments that have more than 10 aircraft within their fleet. Our recent market study indicated there are almost 2000 such flight departments within the US today. This means in excess of 6000 aircraft, across fixed and rotary wing, are operated by corporate flight departments within the US. We have ensured our solution is just as suitable for fixed and rotary wing as well as having features for future air mobility within the product.
Does myairops flight only work for CFD?
No not at all, myairops flight is a solution for anyone who operates aircraft or even operates no aircraft at all such as charter brokers. Our solution has been built to be multi-regulation, multi-FTL, and is used throughout the world. It even has specialist features for medical operations to allow complete handling of patient requirements for the various medical and specialist operations we also support. We have seen a significant increase in customers who are US corporate flight departments as our solution has enabled interconnectivity with business systems which has previously not been possible. We also have specialist features for US corporate flight departments including tax calculations such as SIFL as well as enhanced passenger handling capabilities, which is often more complex and time consuming for corporate flight departments.
What challenges do CFD’s have that are different to other operators?
The most significant challenge that most corporate flight departments face is an aging incumbent system which has isolated the aviation department from the rest of the organization that they serve. Corporate flight departments have an enormously demanding job with many members of the team performing multiple roles. Having corporate systems like HR systems disconnected from the aviation system can cause a major headache when managing passenger manifests especially where personal use is concerned and the complexities around the IRS rules in this area. Passenger management is also made more complex as many people may be able to access the aircraft and place demand. Furthermore, the requirement to keep personal & executive assistants informed of trip changes can also be time consuming. These are areas our solution solves. Whether that is through providing booking management workflow solutions that allow passengers to manage their own trips, or through providing updates and access to the latest information relating to a flight. Of course, corporate flight departments face all the same challenges of other operators such as maintenance management, training, rostering, expense management, etc and often with budget constraints. Having a system like myairops flight that allows them access to all this functionality, or where other products are already in place, having the option to seamlessly integrate the aviation software with other software already in the enterprise is a huge capability uplift.
myairops is a UK based company, but how does it have so much experience in the US aviation sector?
myairops has been making aviation solutions and providing trip support services for a very long time; almost 40 years. We have always had a strong US customer base and have a long heritage providing Part-91 and Part-135 operators the solutions that they need. As part of a global aviation group this also provides us access and experience across the globe so North America is a market we have been present in for a very long time. Being a SaaS based solution that is delivered using the Microsoft Cloud we are also able to host our solutions throughout the world. We have a significant presence in North America and can provide our customers geo-fencing of data to meet the requirements of data privacy legislation. We also hold SOC2 which is seen as the required standard for cloud services within the US.
How do your products improve the efficiency of flight crew and maintenance engineers?
The main time-consuming aspect within any operation is the transfer of information between teams and staff being able to gain situational awareness relevant to their role. Through a role-based permission system and using a dedicated iOS application we are able to keep flight crew and maintenance engineers informed of all changes automatically. As trips can change frequently it is also important not to overwhelm staff with too much information, which if not careful, can become noise and actually increase workload. To counter this risk, our solution intelligently organizes the notifications and alerts. The iOS app allows access to duty management, aircraft schedule, squawks (defects), aircraft status information such as VOR, costs such as fuel and other expenses, as well as allowing the operational department to customize the data capture which is meaningful to them. Automation plays a huge part in increasing efficiency and one such feature is the completion of flight times from ADSB data which is embedded directly within our product.
What do you see as your biggest differentiation in this market space?
Our customers tell us one of the major areas of differentiation is our approach to exposing functionality through version-controlled APIs and our developer portal. This has allowed customers to build custom workflows and tools around our platform. One major corporate flight department has built a shuttle management tool allowing staff to book seats on shuttle flights as well as placing demand directly within the system. This has generated efficiency for the scheduling team. In addition, our event driven architecture allows the application to be automatically notified of changes meaning staff know when there are delays or trip changes. We have also provided ODATA access within the platform allowing our reports and dashboards to be extended through the use of business intelligence reporting tools. Our customers also tell us that our approach to integration is unique where we do not just connect system and data flows but enhance the business process workflow by adding decision making and automated functions that are driven by the collation of data into our platform. This concept of making the data a “first class citizen” in our architecture puts us in a very different place to just the process of sending data between systems.
It’s a big decision to swap systems, how do myairops help with this process?
It is always a big decision to swap a mission critical software system but not making the change can be more damaging in the longer term. At myairops we have built a flexible transition process where our consultants and data scientists can help with data migration and indeed data cleansing. We have built migration pathways and tools from many of the legacy products that have an install base. It is often a very good time to review data quality and purge any information that is no longer required. We also know that some organizations have special access or security requirements, and we have great experience in this area as well. We also offer the ability to embed part of our team in the customer’s operation for a period of time. Many customers choose this option at the point of go-live so that tips and tricks as well as training reminders can be provided whilst delivering the live operation.
For one customer we provided, within 15 days, a complete data migration of 7 years’ worth of data. This includes all passengers, present and historic, crew with their operational hours, currency and training records as well as notes and corporate intelligence that has been built over the years within the legacy product we replaced.