Aircraft IT OPS Issue 59: Spring 2024

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Aircraft IT OPS Issue 59: Spring 2024 Cover

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CASE STUDY: Jekta gets the latest in digital documentation

Author: George Alafinov, CEO and co-Founder of Jekta and Marc Rauch, co-Founder and CBO of Yonder

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George Alafinov, CEO and co-Founder of Jekta and Marc Rauch, co-Founder and CBO of Yonder on how the future of zero emissions, advanced air mobility has ensured compliance and documentation management

In this case study, readers will see how the latest developments in zero emissions aerospace has combined with the latest in digital document management solutions to ensure the best start and future for an exciting new airframe project. The article is in two parts, starting with the Passenger Hydro Aircraft Zero Emission 100 (PHA-ZE 100) Flying Boat OEM which is using the document management software Yonder to support the design and manufacture of a game-changing airframe to support sustainable regional aviation.

GEORGE ALAFINOV, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER OF JEKTA

Jekta, the Swiss OEM is reviving the magnificence of flying boats with the PHA-ZE 100 amphibious, regional aircraft. It is designed to improve air travel opportunities for communities living close to water and connect destinations currently unable to accommodate aviation due to infrastructure and regulatory restrictions. George and his family business have more than two decades of experience designing, building and certifying amphibian aircraft.

WHY AN ELECTRIC POWERED FLYING BOAT

Humanity has always travelled; first walking, then riding horses; then, for thousands of years, sailing and navigating the world. With each technological advance, comfort improved and the time taken to travel reduced, culminating in flying. The essence of flight is more than the act of traversing distances, it is to save time and connect the disconnected.

For example, in the UK alone, there are 34 million cars for 68 million people, resulting in congested traffic where every participant is losing time. That is why, with increasing frequency, we hear the term Regional Air Mobility (RAM). It refers to the evolving concept of using aviation technology to facilitate efficient and convenient transportation within specific geographic locations and aims to address issues like traffic congestion, lengthy commutes and limited accessibility in regional areas.

The typical characteristics of RAM include the optimization of aircraft with capacity for five to 50 passengers flying distances of up to 500km often using under-used or smaller airports. According to McKinsey, RAM will be the fastest growing aviation sector for the next 25 years; RAM, McKinsey forecasts, will reach 700 million passengers a year in ten tears time. Of course, all of those flights will also present a different challenge which is the ecological impact from increased aviation activity. As the population continues to increase, so will the levels of CO2. Moreover, the migration of the population to high density urban areas will result in the creation of mega-cities, a large proportion of which will be on the coastlines of oceans, rivers and lakes.

However, by electrifying aviation, we will be able to reduce CO2 emissions, all while reducing operating costs for the operator, resulting in sustainable travel that is cheaper than today.

That is why, at Jekta, we have designed a 19-passenger electric amphibian aircraft to support the growing regional air mobility demand.

The advantage of an amphibian aircraft is that, on the one hand it can operate using any existing infrastructure – prepared concrete or a grass runway – but it also can operate from the water. This eliminates the need for the construction of new expensive runways with their irreversible ecological impact. In short, we think of it as like the famous Swiss Army Knife, it is an aircraft with multiple operational parameters that can be used anywhere in the world with minimum infrastructure investment.

THE AIRCRAFT DESIGN PROCESS

This is very much in the domain of IT and, when it comes to using the design documentation software, Jekta started with a DMS (Document Management System) from the very first conceptual design. The six reasons for that are in the figure starting with regulatory compliance. The software itself for the DMS does not need to be certified, but it is necessary to show to the aerospace regulator (European Aviation Safety Agency or Federal Aviation Administration) an adequate, robust system that conforms with their requirements for a document management system, and the way documents are stored and exchanged.

The second part is traceability and accountability. Aircraft design involves numerous components, systems and processes and the documentation software allows for the tracking of each element, changes made during the design process and who made those changes. That traceability is crucial for accountability and ensuring that the final design meets safety and quality standards.

Collaboration and communication reflect the fact that aircraft design and production is a collaborative process involving engineers, designers, manufacturers, regulatory bodies and suppliers. Document management software facilitates communication and collaboration. Version control is, of course, very important because an aircraft design process will entail multiple iterations and revisions. The software helps manage version control ensuring that the most up-to-date design information is available to all stakeholders. This prevents errors that could arise from, for example, using outdated specifications; it also involves traceability to see who made an error, where one was made, and why, in order to rectify it.

Information accessibility is important because a vast amount of technical data is used; CAD (Computer Aided Design) models, technical drawings, specifications and procedures. And the software organizes and stores this information in a structured and accessible manner making it easier for designers and engineers to retrieve the necessary data efficiently.

Last but not least, risk mitigation helps to identify potential risks during the design phase through analyses and simulations, allowing for identification of issues early in the process which reduces the chances of costly errors and safety concerns for the final product.

Jekta chose Yonder for the provision of documentation management software and, in the second part of this study, Marc Rauch explains how the solution works and the benefits that it can bring to any user.

MARC RAUCH, CO-FOUNDER AND CBO OF YONDER

Marc Rauch is an aviator with twenty years of experience in the aviation industry and was the Head of Airport Authority at Zurich Airport before founding Yonder.

I’m going to share with readers what Yonder’s software is capable of doing. One application is with the development of new aircraft which we are highlighting in this case study. However, that’s probably not the business in which most readers are working so here is an introduction to show what Yonder can offer to flight operations, end-users and others.

ABOUT YONDER

We also like the comparison with the famous ‘Swiss Army Knife’ that George used earlier; Yonder is the all-purpose tool in documentation software offering users the option to use it for all of the different functions within an aviation company, even in aircraft design.

Yonder is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland but active globally with employees located from Singapore to Phoenix, Arizona. Before the company was founded, the founders had accumulated a lot of experience in the aviation industry, whether with airlines or in the broader sense on the airports and regulators’ side. We set sail to put into action what was missing from products already on the market.

We don’t just see ourselves as a software vendor, throwing software at clients then scheduling training, and wishing them, ‘good luck!’ We aim to make our clients successful with their individual use cases that they have for a documentation management solution. This, of course, means special training, personalized onboarding capabilities and whatever a client needs in their specific case.

DOCUMENTATION MANAGEMENT TODAY

Let’s first look at the challenges in documentation management today.

Going back a little in time, at the beginning we were describing processes in a couple of sheets of paper; what do we need to do, how do we do it, what do we need to know? And then regulation came along; regulations led to more documents in the first place and also to larger documents because we needed to comply with these regulations. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, we saw a spike in the number of documents, largely driven by regulations and by increased update cycles in regulation.

In 2010, the first iPad was released, digitalization came along and everybody said, ‘Great, now we can get rid of all these binders and handle everything in one neat tool that’s easy to use. We’re good.’ But we weren’t really good. Unfortunately, we kept all the limitations of physical paper: pages, and linear content flow and didn’t reduce the number of documents, or the amount of information that we need to cope with; in fact, quite the opposite. And this is where Yonder came into play.

THE MOVE TO DIGITAL DOCUMENTATION

Yonder is making documentation smart again for end-users as well as documentation managers. We want to make the same leap that was taken from physical paper to the PDF, but this time from the PDF to the smart documents and go beyond PDF.

On the end-user side, Yonder offers the capability to make users more productive by only showing them the information that they need which reduces information overload. We do this by just showing the documents or content within documents needed for their particular role and for the mission at hand. Safety is increased because all of the changes in a document need to go through an approval workflow so that end-users can be sure that the information they work with is updated, current and can be relied on. It’s an easy-to-use solution for end-users with no training needed; if an end-user can use an Apple device or any other smart device, they can use Yonder.

On the document management side, Yonder frees the manager from repetitive tasks. There is so much repetitive work in classic document management tools that prevents people from doing their real work and using their subject matter expertise. Yonder has automated much of this repetitive work starting with the initial document transfer into Yonder. Whether it’s a Word document or an OEM manual, in some cases even with the airline’s customizations, it can be imported to Yonder at the click of a button. Then in Yonder the same structure is created within our XML format, adding advanced functionality.

It is also possible to manage OEM documents in Yonder whether that’s Airbus, Boeing, ATR, Embraer or Jekta, as long as it is structured content. Additionally, Yonder has automated the entire revision process in the sense that it has automated the comparison of new revisions from the manufacturer to what the airline has in its document. Yonder then prompts subject matter experts with ‘change requests’ only on the sections in the document that have changed. The subject matter experts don’t need to go through the entire revision anymore but can decide on what to do with a manufacturer change. And, in the case customized documents, whether to revert to the manufacturer’s format or to keep the customization. In addition, there is always the audit trail enabling managers to go back in time and see who has changed what, and when did they change it.

There is also active compliance monitoring, on both the document and the end-user’s side. On a document level, a manager is prompted with a change request in their document whenever a regulation changes that this document has been linked to. This works on the level of a single paragraph or an article in the regulation and the change request in the document shows a before-and-after comparison of the regulation that has changed. A compliance manager can then decide what the change in regulation actually means for the content. This is how Yonder ensures that the content is always compliant with regulation updates.

There is also active compliance monitoring on the end-user’s side; whenever something changes in a document, Yonder doesn’t just send out a new document to the end-users and they need to figure out what has changed. Yonder prompts end-users with change notifications based on their particular role. End-users are only notified about changes that affect them and that they need to know to be compliant before they fly. Then, the solution asks for ‘read’ or ‘read and acknowledge’ confirmations and managers can pull reports on the end-users’ compliance status. It is also possible to go back in time and show the compliance status at that time. This is particularly important in an event of an incident in order to determine if the involved flight crew at the time was compliant and if this incident was related to documentation.

Of course, we understand that taking that leap from the PDF world to the one of smart documents doesn’t happen in one day, just as it didn’t happen going from paper to PDF’s. Easing the transition, Yonder can still manage PDFs, incorporate them within the interface or export smart Yonder documents in high-quality. Doing so all of the automation is already built-in – the list of effective pages, the highlights of revisions as well as everything else that users need in a PDF.

FINDING INFORMATION

Let’s take a look at how end-users find information and work with the tool on the iPad.

You can immediately see that it looks like an Apple App and that’s not by accident. Yonder follows Apple design guidelines closely so the whole user flow is as simple to use as any Apple product.

On the left side you can see the notifications center and a library with the document already selected. There is also a ‘favorites’ section that is completely end-user specific so that end-users can build their own library structure at a document or paragraph level. Meanwhile the documents in the second column are controlled by the company, meaning the end-users only see what they’re allowed to see. Here Yonder brings together different kinds of documents in one solution; manufacturers’ manuals, company documents, regulations or any other kind of relevant information. They can be opened in a preview on the right side, where users can scroll through to get information or simply look something up.

The document can be opened on the top right-hand side, while the main navigation bar is sitting on the left side.

In this case, the document is showing different airports, that the user might want to fly to. With the table of content, documents can be navigated in the same manner as a PDF – go to the chosen airport, look for the noise abatement procedures and find the information that is needed. You can also see a personal highlight in green, in this case a note, which enables the user to refine the content with both highlights and notes, making the content personalized – a feature that’s also taken over between revisions.

But there is a much more powerful way of finding information: selecting the filters on the top right-hand corner.

Instead of using ‘Search’ or the ‘Table of Contents’, the user can select filters, in this case, ‘Boston’ and then ’Ground Operations’. Now the entire document is reduced to just the information that the user needs to know for the mission and the role at hand; in this case, flying to Boston and knowing ground operations procedures.

That is a very simple example, but the same logic works on every level of the documentation landscape. When a user logs in with a certain pre-defined role, they will only see pre-defined documents and content within these documents. They can then drill down further by applying additional filters. This could be the tail number being flown today or the destination.

Yonder’s approach was met with lively interest in the aviation industry. Our business now has customers ranging from large international airline groups operating Boeing and Airbus aircraft to smaller carriers and helicopter operators and everything in between. Furthermore, Yonder is also active outside of the aviation industry, supporting the Swiss army, Skyguide and Swissgrid, proving it holds the highest standard of reliability and security.

With this being said, Yonder is the most innovative documentation management solution on the market today, being functional for every part of the documentation that users need, from flight operations to HR – all in one integrated solution. Regardless of whether it’s compliance, OEM documents, or any kind of other information that a company wants to manage – everything can be done in Yonder.

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