Case Study: KLM goes digital
Author: Jelmer Bruijn, Project Pilot Digitizing, KLM and Martin Kahlert, Director Markets Lido/Navigation, Lufthansa SystemsSubscribe
KLM goes digital
Jelmer Bruijn, Project Pilot Digitizing, KLM and Martin Kahlert, Director Markets Lido/Navigation, Lufthansa Systems relate the journey from fixed paper to near real-time digital documents and data
The close collaboration between KLM and Lufthansa Systems’ Lido/Navigation department has led to a big change in KLM’s cockpits. Through this article, we want to share our experience from this project. We’ll take you through a bit of history, how KLM used to do charting, how they are doing it today and how the iPad is being used as an EFB device.
For nearly 100 years, from 1919 until about 2010, KLM made its own charts for all destinations that the airline served. They even sold those charts to other airlines. It worked – but it was a relatively expensive process. Other companies specializing in this field are much more proficient than an airline can be. Although KLM still does make some specific charts for company purposes on their own, such as escape routes, since 2010 the majority of KLM’s charts have come from Lufthansa Systems’ Lido/Navigation. This migration is part of one of the first major digitization projects at KLM Flight Operations.
KLM used to use the charts on the left of Figure 1. In the first step they introduced Lido/RouteManual, paper-based to-scale charts with color and topography. As the charts were very similar to KLM’s own charts in terms of clarity and use of color, acceptance from pilots and back office was very high. The charts are detailed, very rich, and greatly smoothed the transition. With this first step, the airline had only moved from their own paper charts to paper charts from a different supplier, but still there was a lot of paper in the cockpit.
When Apple introduced the iPad, this new device revolutionized the compilation, delivery and presentation of, formerly, paper documents such as charts and manuals. It is now used onboard all KLM flights.
The airline started with a few applications that had been made in-house e.g. for manuals and reporting. Lido/Navigation also developed applications such as Lido/iRouteManual (terminal charts), Lido/Enroute (enroute map) and Lido/DocView (for any kind of documentation such as company and aircraft manuals). As Lido/Navigation’s customers asked for an all-in-one solution, in 2015 those applications were merged into one: Lido/mPilot.
Additionally, in order to increase pilots’ acceptance, KLM expressed the wish to include their logo, their own corporate colors and to use a different splash screen. Such individualization is no problem for Lido/Navigation.
KLM EFB PROGRAM
With the iPad came an opportunity to use a relatively cost-effective consumer device as a simple EFB platform and KLM started a trial of this concept using Lido/mPilot (Figure 2).
The app is driven to reflect and support the pilot’s perspective while moving the solution to the next generation. Lido/Navigation undertook some integration with Aviobook, KLM’s eBriefing solution which allows the airline to load routes from Aviobook into Lido/mPilot, to highlight the route being flown and preselect the aerodromes being flown to and from. It improves the pilots’ overview, making it very easy to see where you’re heading on the enroute map. The applications can also be used in a split-screen configuration (Figure 3) and the systems all work together very nicely.
KLM did some more integration of different applications. In Figure 4 you can see the application delivery platform used within KLM. It enables pilots to install the application on their iPads. Additionally, it shows whether or not Lido/mPilot is up to date and ready for flight on an individual device.
The module Lido/mPilot backend allows administrators to see the availability of airports, enroute and general information as well as customer documents. It enables users to see which updates are available at any time. This helps pilots to stay current with all the new material and procedures which are generated.
KLM used to have an entire structure based around nav-bags containing some kg of manuals, paper charts and similar. By migrating to the iPad, the airline was able to get rid of that infrastructure which generated huge savings in cost and weight, and the fuel to carry that weight. Cost is, of course, often a primary driver but the migration also improved training because the iPads used by KLM are pilot based – the airline handed out some 2,700 iPads to pilots. Users can take the device home, study their routes and manuals in advance as well as see which documents and information have been updated. This all represents a huge improvement in terms of training. Also, reducing the paper clutter in the cockpit and integrating everything on the iPad has greatly improved situational awareness for KLM’s pilots. They have enroute maps with highlighted route and optional position information; so there’s no need for juggling with paper charts or using fluorescent markers to highlight information.
A few things have been learned from this project that readers might find useful.
Usually, it takes time for pilots to adjust to new charts especially if they have been using the old system for a long time and have grown familiar with and used to it. For this migration, Lido/Navigation was able to offer a lot of assistance to KLM e.g. by supplying all the pilots with a binder of the Amsterdam charts so that people could see in advance what the new charts looked like. That was a big help.
Also, migration to digital manuals does not necessarily enable the airline to update manuals more frequently. A lot of administrators and content providers would like to increase the rate at which content is updated, but this would be a problem for pilots who get a lot of updates and update notifications and other stuff they need to read and to be updated on. So it’s best to stick to the paper update cycle which will make everybody’s jobs easier and allows crews to stay current using a familiar routine (albeit now digital in format) rather than facing a constant stream of, sometimes unnecessary, updates.
iPads break fairly easily. Each time people take their devices out of the bag, usually a couple of times a day, there’s an opportunity for it to fall. Despite providing solid cases for the iPads, we had a significant amount of broken iPads during the last few years. However, a good solid cover is still a good idea – things would have been worse without them.
It was also discovered that MDM (mobile device management) for iPads can introduce a single point of failure. So, if readers use an MDM to manage their iPads, which most EFB iPad users do, manage wisely because a mistake in here might have an impact on every single device and user.
VISION AND FUTURE
Looking to the future, what does KLM plan to do? The airline wants to provide even more information, including live weather updates, to support better decision making by pilots. Noting the lesson learned above, they’ll be careful not to overload pilots. There’s going to be work on integration with onboard systems and connectivity for the iPads via ARINC buses. This will allow the display of the own-ship position and usage of the Airport Moving Map (Lido/AMM), so pilots can focus on what really matters: safe and efficient aircraft operations.
With a greater dependency on digital solutions, stability and reliability of hardware plays and important role – if it breaks down, there needs to be a backup solution for everything. Within KLM, a backup solution was developed with the ability to serve OFP data to any device. Additionally, the cloud solution Lido/RouteManual Backup offers airlines a suitable backup for charting data in case of any problems with the application. Administrators and pilots can simply download PDF charts from any modern web browser.
Lufthansa Systems offers navigation solutions that allow wider integration to make the data more interesting and to support better decisions, such as weather data and fuel efficiency data on the charting solutions (Figure A).
As can be seen on the right, the Windows-based mobile charting solution Lido/eRouteManual tracks displays a pre-compressed, filterable set of historical flight trajectories for a particular route, thereby improving the tactical decision making and leading to significant fuel savings.
Similarly, with weather information (Figure B) retrieved in cooperation with weather providers, Lufthansa Systems offers the possibility to display SIGMETs (Significant Meteorological information), including wind information, clear air turbulence, etc. on the enroute module of Lido/eRouteManual.
In this way, information from specialist companies can be integrated into the Lufthansa Systems solution to be displayed and easily switched by the customer. The enroute map can be further customized for better situational awareness using information out of the database. This makes it easier for users to integrate their own data, to tailor a chart to their specific needs and, in the future, configure information so that it pops up when the pilot needs it.
Lido/Navigation is following the digital trend – from paper PDF charts to the display of fully dynamic maps. In the future, Lido/Navigation will offer the possibility to add information such as weather updates and similar data in real time when there is a connected cockpit. When a map is generated from data and on the fly, pilots will only see the required information that they need for the flight. The aim is to be fully dynamic with different layers of information and no boundaries, i.e. it will be possible to seamlessly zoom in from the enroute overlay to an Airport Moving Map (Lido/AMM). Connectivity will enable real-time updates and deliver everything that is needed, when it is needed.
Jelmer Bruijn is a project pilot digitizing for KLM Flight Operations. Former cruise relieve pilot B747, Jelmer now works as a co-pilot on the B737NG. He enjoys combining operational experience with IT, trying to bring new technologies to a traditionally conservative industry.
In 2005 Martin Kahlert started with Lufthansa Systems in Zurich. As a holder of a frozen ATPL pilot license, he started within a project team to launch the electronic charting solution Lido/eRouteManual followed by several roles and responsibilities within Lufthansa Systems Flight Navigation department. In 2015 Martin became Director Markets, responsible for all customer related topics of the Lido/Navigation product line.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is the flag carrier airline of the Netherlands with its hub at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. It is part of the Air France-KLM group. KLM was founded in 1919 and operates scheduled passenger and cargo services to 145 destinations.
Lufthansa Systems GmbH & Co. KG is one of the world’s leading providers of IT services in the airline industry. It draws its unique strengths from an ability to combine profound industry know-how with technological expertise and many years of project experience. The company offers its more than 300 airline customers an extensive range of successful products for the aviation industry. Lufthansa Systems also supports its customers both within and outside the Lufthansa Group with consulting services and the experience it has gained.