26 Sep 2013


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Thomson Airways is the world’s largest leisure airline, offering flights from the UK and Ireland to destinations across Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Thomson Airways became the first UK airline to take delivery of the Boeing 787, receiving the first aircraft in May 2013. They turned to Arconics to help them manage the documentation for the new fleet.

The Challenge

In addition to the new Class 3’s on the B787, Thomson Airways uses a range of Class 1 and 2 EFBs on other fleets. Producing manuals that can be viewed easily and reliably across devices is difficult and time-consuming. Thomson Airways was using an authoring system based on a standard XML editor. The system had serious problems including a high training requirement, an internal IT burden caused by locally installed editing software and recurring problems with overall reliability.

The impending arrival of the new B787 fleet led to a search for a new authoring and distribution system. Phil Ganewski, Manager of Flight Support, led a comprehensive evaluation of 8 different vendors across a wide range of functional and business categories. The evaluation was comprehensive, with particular attention paid to:

  • Authoring
  • Workflows, groups, and user management
  • Security and Auditing
  • Publishing outputs – HTML, PDF, XML, Class 1, 2 & 3.
  • Importing and editing Boeing FTID
  • Overall architecture
  • Availability of EFB software
  • Training, ease of use, and vendor support

According to Phil “We needed a solution that was completely web-based.  We have busy people across the organization including Fleet Managers, Technical Pilots and Subject Matter Experts who update the manuals, but authoring is not their main job. By definition, authoring is done when the time is available.  They can go for months without using the system, so ease-of-use was a major concern.  We did a comprehensive due diligence exercise and the Arconics AeroDocs system had green ticks across the board.”

The Solution

Arconics worked closely with Thomson Airways to define the requirements for a customized solution that would meet Thomson’s needs for authoring and delivery to Class 1, 2 and 3 EFBs, including the EDB on the Boeing Class 3 EFB on the 787 fleet.

The deployment was not without challenges. The Class 1 EFBs were tightly locked down, which required some additional work to roll out the system. The authors had to be trained on the new Arconics authoring system, which took about half a day,  supplemented by some remote support as they began working with the system.

“We had some unique requirements, but Arconics gave us the help and support we needed.  Sometimes they had a solution figured out before we had finished describing the problem. It was also very helpful that the software was so easy to use. There was nothing that could have been done better during the implementation” said Phil.

The Outcome

AeroDocs was deployed in time to support the B787’s first flight. Now over 40 people across Thomson are using AeroDocs to edit Boeing and Thomson Airways manuals including FCOM, MEL, and Ops Manual Parts A, B and D, and other flight ops manuals and handbooks. Overall document publishing coordination and administration of the system is handled by a single employee.

The system is helping Thomson Airways meet its goal of a paperless cockpit, which will generate savings of several hundred thousand pounds per year.

More significantly, using AeroDocs has helped standardize manuals and the revision process across the organisation. The AeroDocs manual viewer delivers a better user experience for the pilots, who can now navigate and search the manuals more easily, improving safety. The UK Civil Aviation Authority are also connected to the AeroDocs system, allowing them to review and approve changes online.

Thomson Airways is now enabling AeroDocs across all their fleets and all devices, including Class 1 and 2 EFBs on the 737, 757 and 767 fleets, and to pilots’ own devices and laptops.

Phil concluded “I’ve worked with a lot of companies, but few are as good as Arconics.  The team are highly knowledgeable, the work gets done, and if there’s a problem, I know I’ll get the support I need.”

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