Documentation from author to crew in two steps
Author: Dominik Weber, Team Leader Flight Operations Support, Lufthansa CityLineSubscribe
Documentation from author to crew in two steps
Dominik Weber, Team Leader Flight Operations Support, Lufthansa CityLine and Sebastian Witt, Project Manager and Consultant for Flight Operations and MRO Documentation, Lufthansa Industry Solutions, explain how Lufthansa CityLine has made documentation ready for the future
Words: Dominik Weber, Team Leader Flight Operations Support, Lufthansa CityLine and Sebastian Witt, Project Manager and Consultant for Flight Operations and MRO Documentation, Lufthansa Industry Solutions
The aim is to give readers a brief insight into the future of documentation using the example of the Lufthansa CityLine solution. Readers will be familiar with the principles of making the cockpit paperless. The focus of the following will be on operational documentation, i.e. all the documentation that the crew needs for their daily work.
As the only passenger airline that shares Lufthansa branding, Lufthansa CityLine has sixty years of experience in short- and long-haul operations. The 50-strong fleet includes the Embraer 195, Embraer 190, Bombardier CRJ900, Airbus A340-300 and Airbus A319, flying to more than 80 destinations with 300 take-offs per day. The airline has approximately 800 pilots and 1,500 crewmembers. It is a medium-sized airline, but with a very large and busy network.
PROJECT ONE – PROJECT AUTHORING
Documentation starts in the Flight Operation Support office, where the procedures are defined. It is difficult to get people excited about innovations, new products and new processes – ‘never change a running system’. Although Lufthansa CityLine already had a digital solution, they wanted to enhance it further because they were searching for an all-in-one solution, and ultimately they opted for EFOM.
In the past, Lufthansa CityLine always had to work by itself: they might have received a PDF from other airlines but it had to be converted manually in the airline’s system and back end in order to be able to publish it to the crew. The document editor was a cloud-based tool that was only used by one airline within the Lufthansa group. The others used a different authoring tool, which made collaboration between CityLine and other group airlines impossible. It was therefore in the interest of the group to introduce a common solution.
Nearly everything had to be changed in order for the collaboration process to work. Furthermore, the question of how to publish and deliver the documents to the flight crews had to be considered. At the time, the processes were outdated with a large number of modules for every device and with each document published individually, making them rather difficult to maintain. Last but not least, the authoring tool had to be more innovative.
Lufthansa CityLine had to find a system that was more efficient and consistent across all airlines. EFOM (Figure 1) is one such tried-and-tested system that meets all requirements and is easy to use – especially because you can use it throughout the group and thus save on work.
EFOM facilitates efficient and reliable authoring and publishing of operations manuals. As a proven solution, it can integrate legacy aircraft from the main OEMs and supports the entire process of managing flight and ground operations manuals as well as the editing, quality checking, revision and publishing of documents. Import modules from manufacturers’ XML data make it easy to keep the documentation up-to-date – for example, quality checks can be carried out on mobile devices. EFOM supports different target formats such as PDF for printing as well as for electronic, mobile and other interfaces. Audits can be processed in a simple and convenient manner using ‘one-click’ generated authority reports which can be exported as PDF or Excel files. That is a brief introduction to EFOM – but how was it implemented in this case?
The documentation project
Lufthansa CityLine and Lufthansa Industry Solutions set up a combined project team consisting of five people from each business unit. The main task, besides the integration and installation of EFOM, was to convert all legacy documents from the cloud system into the new format. Overall, 19 manuals needed to be migrated and everything took place over a period of 90 days.
In order to ensure that the project stayed on track and on schedule, there were weekly status meetings and every step was quality assured by Lufthansa CityLine. The work was all done between January and September 2018. In fact, the timing was perfect for CityLine as they were about to phase in a new aircraft, the A319, where the documentation already benefits from this new solution.
The project meets all criteria. First of all, most airlines within the Lufthansa group use EFOM, and therefore they can easily share documents with each other. Furthermore, the usability of the system is far superior to the old legacy system and, of course, EFOM is under continuous development with every improvement being shared with every customer, including Lufthansa CityLine. The required publishing process for the individual goals is now quicker and easier compared to the old process.
All of the information above represents Lufthansa CityLine’s basic requirements, i.e. updating existing processes. That was all required for the purchase order but, in addition to those improvements, Lufthansa CityLine also gained some additional benefits as a result of introducing the new system.
The authoring tool EFOM also provides highly efficient document reference management, which is optimized for cross-referencing across documents – especially between legislation and operational documents. The links remain intact despite changes to one of the documents. Furthermore, an authority report can be created, which helps to prove the correctness of operation manuals to authorities.
The authority report has proven to be a very useful feature for auditing and is not typically expected from a tool that handles documentation. Finally, because cutting costs and streamlining operations is becoming ever more important, back-office time savings of up to eight hours can be achieved for each revision process. This is of great benefit to Lufthansa CityLine – which currently operates four fleets with nearly 20 revisions per fleet.
PROJECT TWO – CREW LIBRARY VIEWER
So far, Lufthansa CityLine has been looking at the documentation from the office and production point of view, but it is also very important to know what this does for the crew. At the time of writing, Lufthansa CityLine has very recently stopped providing printed versions of their manuals, so that all cabin crews no longer have to carry around folders containing hundreds of papers. It used to be a manual process that was quickly becoming obsolete in the modern world, and therefore a solution had to be found. Lufthansa CityLine’s cockpits have been digital since 2002, and all cockpit crew members have a tablet with an electronic library that is continuously updated. However, in the cabin, everything was still printed. CityLine therefore wanted to find a new way to deliver information to the cabin crew as well, and discovered the DocSurf Mobile crew library viewer – also from Lufthansa Industry Solutions.
DocSurf Mobile is a product that meets this requirement, as it allows aircraft staff to view electronic flight and ground operations manuals on iOS and Windows (standalone or via the Internet). The application simplifies the workflow for the cockpit and cabin crew both in the air and on the ground. It has an efficient search function and allows users to filter relevant information quickly and accurately. DocSurf Mobile helps with revision processes, with changes being clearly displayed to the viewer and individually marked as ‘Read’ if desired. With the option of setting notes and favorites within the documents, DocSurf Mobile provides a personalized user experience. Notes and favourites will remain in place even if the document has been revised. The solution is available on tablets, notebooks, smartphones and desktop PCs as well as on different operating systems. Personalized data can be synchronized on all of those platforms.
Lufthansa CityLine only uses the iOS application, which has a very intuitive user interface that is related to other similar applications. Some key features include portrait and landscape modes plus daytime and night-time modes for an enhanced reading experience. The solution supports all iOS specific features such as multi-touch gestures. Furthermore, the complete application can be managed using an MDM (mobile device management) system, which means that no special process is needed to maintain the application.
The clean and intuitive interface of DocSurf Mobile can be seen in Figure 2.
Lufthansa CityLine worked closely with the cabin crew when implementing the new system in order to guarantee a smooth transition. For 20 years, they had been used to thumbing through the books, marking relevant procedures with a yellow highlighter pen and perhaps taking down some notes. This all had to change with the digital version. This change is a process in itself and it will take some time before all the crew members become accustomed to it. The airline has tried to simplify the roll-out process and to introduce the system to them in person in one-to-one sessions in addition to the sessions with other crew members.
The iPad was selected because it is more convenient and easier to use. Furthermore, crews are allowed to also use the devices for private purposes, which is of additional benefit to them. All in all, the whole roll-out process has so far gone smoothly.
At the end of these two projects, Lufthansa CityLine was in the perfect position to derive even more benefits from the product suite, because Lufthansa Industry Solutions not only offers the authoring tool EFOM and its viewing component, DocSurf Mobile, but also a document distribution and management system called DocAdmin. DocAdmin is the final link in the process chain from authoring to viewing. This was very important for Lufthansa CityLine because it means that there is no need for lengthy coordination procedures between solutions from different providers and no need for interfaces or discussions with regard to who is responsible for dealing with potential problems. DocAdmin offers a simple library management system for organizing the library, maintaining it and publishing it to users. As a result, distribution to all users is very easy, regardless of whether it is a cabin mobile device, web server or even in the background. In addition, Airbus documents were not supported in the legacy system, whereas in the new system, that is no longer a problem.
BEFORE AND AFTER
The old process (Figure 3) was rather lengthy.
When Lufthansa CityLine used the old system, they had to print a PDF of the documents. The next step was to manually check the PDF version, extract every changed page, make a note of the changes in a revision sheet for the crews, so that they knew what changes had been made, and then to put all the documents back into one PDF. This PDF was then sent to the print shop where a print preview was prepared then sent back by post to be manually checked for accuracy and quality (the process would be repeated if any changes were required) so that, even after seven days, the crews still had not received the revisions. The print shop produced and sent an individual package by post to each of the 1,500 crew members. Every crew member collected their package for storage in their folders. There could even be situations in which a crew member had to reorder documentation because of loss or they might have thrown away the wrong page. For each crew member, it took roughly half an hour to sort their documentation each time it was re-issued after being changed: that is a total of 750 hours. It was therefore vital to speed up and simplify this process (Figure 4).
The first step in the new system is EFOM publication of the documentation and transfer to the document management system, DocAdmin, which is responsible for distribution to all 1,500 crew members. The documents are sent over with one click. Everything is up-to-date, revised and available for inspection by the authorities. In terms of time, what was taking 21 days with the previous process of distribution can now be accomplished in just under one hour with the new process.
Lufthansa CityLine is very pleased with the new software and the time savings they have been able to achieve with the new document management system.
They are proud of the fruitful cooperation with Lufthansa Industry Solutions and the promising progress of the project. Sometimes, it is worth changing the running system after all.
Dominik started his career in the Lufthansa group in 2015, shortly before graduating in International Marketing Management. He worked in Flight Operations as well as in Area Management Asia-Pacific (Singapore) before returning to Lufthansa CityLine as Manager Flight Operation Support. Shortly afterwards, he took over as Team Lead of the division and is currently responsible for operational procedures, fuel-saving strategies, management of the electronic flight bag (EFB) and documentation control.
Sebastian joined Lufthansa Industry Solutions in 2011. He graduated in Applied Computer Science at the University of Applied Science in Hamburg. He started his professional career in several technical documentation projects within the aviation industry (MRO and Flight Ops), where he worked in several roles, such as application developer, consultant and project manager. For the past two years, he has been responsible for the development of DocSurf Mobile, a web-based documentation viewer for flight and ground operations documentation.
Lufthansa CityLine is a wholly owned subsidiary of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which supports Lufthansa’s worldwide route network. The carrier’s 2,500 staff welcome over 8 million passengers every year. The Lufthansa CityLine fleet comprises more than 50 modern and efficient aircraft including the Embraer 195, Embraer 190, Bombardier CRJ900 and Airbus A340-300. The A319 just joined the fleet in March 2019.
Lufthansa Industry Solutions
Lufthansa Industry Solutions helps companies – from medium-sized firms to global players – digitize and automate their business processes, focusing not only on the IT needed, but also on the customer’s business as a whole, including its internal and external challenges. This is because digital transformation affects a company’s entire structure and culture. The customer base includes both companies within the Lufthansa group and more than 200 companies in various other industries.