10 | WHITE PAPER: CONDUCE CONSULTING | AIRCRAFT IT OPERATIONS | AUTUMN 2011Tablets in Flight OperationsAre tablets, asks P...
AUTUMN 2011 | AIRCRAFT IT OPERATIONS | WHITE PAPER: CONDUCE CONSULTING | 11system in the shape of Windows 8 on the horizon...
12 | WHITE PAPER: CONDUCE CONSULTING | AIRCRAFT IT OPERATIONS | AUTUMN 2011Now what?                                      ...
AUTUMN 2011 | AIRCRAFT IT OPERATIONS | WHITE PAPER: CONDUCE CONSULTING | 13so ware vendor and should not be underestimated...
14 | WHITE PAPER: CONDUCE CONSULTING | AIRCRAFT IT OPERATIONS | AUTUMN 2011                                               ...
AUTUMN 2011 | AIRCRAFT IT OPERATIONS | WHITE PAPER: CONDUCE CONSULTING | 15less than straight forward to realize. As I men...
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Tablets in Flight Operations


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This is the white paper I wrote for the 3rd edition of the Aircraft IT Flight Operations eJournal in Autumn 2011

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Tablets in Flight Operations

  1. 1. 10 | WHITE PAPER: CONDUCE CONSULTING | AIRCRAFT IT OPERATIONS | AUTUMN 2011Tablets in Flight OperationsAre tablets, asks Paul Saunders, Operations Director at Conduce Consulting, a Technology fashiontrend or a permanent solution? S INCE THE LAUNCH of the iPad 2 in March 2011, you may have heard thewords ‘post-PC’ used quite a lot. Indeed these wordsappear in nearly all Apple Inc. marketing blurb, e.g....“We are approaching a post-PC era.”“ e majority of our revenue now comes from post-PC devices.”“We are living in a post-PC world.” e idea of a world without PCs is debated ‘ad-nauseum’ in tech blogs and journals. Analysis ofPC and laptop sales certainly indicates that there isa major shi underway. It is clear that the netbookappears to have had its day, analysts are revisingtheir predictions downwards for the growth ofdesktop PC sales and the demand for certaintablets completely outstrips supply. Not all tabletsthough… the Blackberry Playbook is a half-baked op having only shipped to date the quantity thatthe iPad sells in 48 hours whilst HP’s abandonmentof WebOS has le TouchPad owners with anexpensive rectangular Frisbee. Despite Microso seemingly hedging their betswith a mobile and tablet friendly new operating
  2. 2. AUTUMN 2011 | AIRCRAFT IT OPERATIONS | WHITE PAPER: CONDUCE CONSULTING | 11system in the shape of Windows 8 on the horizon, connected apps. Some people seem to be waiting forI tend to think that we are not going to see an the tablet market to stabilize before committing toend to PCs and speci cally laptops for a while a particular hardware, so ware or operating systemyet… having said that, ve years is an in nity in choice under the belief that the wrong decision attechnology terms. If Microso , ‘defenders of the such an early stage in the market life cycle couldfaith’ for PCs, are preparing for a possible decline lead to a failed return on investment, or worse, ain PC sales then you’d better believe that a change complete waste of time and money. Even innovatorsis coming. What is certain is that interest in tablets, and early adopters are proceeding with real caution.and especially the iPad, in the Flight Operations I can’t point to a single airline that has yet fullyarena is very high indeed. I mean, the fact that rolled out an entire mobile IT landscape whichyou’re reading this paper indicates something doesn’t includes tablets, complete with a full suite of appsit? Dozens of airlines across the world are either and connected systems. Even the most advancedevaluating tablets, building business cases, piloting innovators such as Alaska Airlines have built atablet use or have rolled out tablets in a limited business case for investment based on a tightlyform. I’ve not seen a paradigm shi like this in focused set of functions where they have simplyaviation IT since the late nineties with the mass replaced paper ight manuals with PDF versions ofadoption of email and the internet. Are tablets a the same documents. Presumably a broader visionpassing fad, or do they represent a viable long term which includes a complete Electronic Flight Bagtechnology solution for Operations IT? (EFB) and a full set of connected business apps will A recent study suggested that 92% of Fortune come at a later time. Other early adopters, such500 companies in the USA are either deploying as United Continental, Delta and BA are wiselyor piloting iPads. Whilst presenting during the following a similar path. Actual airline CIOs wanting to build such aAirline & Aerospace MRO & Operations IT So why aren’t we seeing a bolder and more rapid business case should take notes. Let’s assume for aConference at Darmstadt in July this year I posed adoption of the sort of mind blowing, awesome apps moment that we’ve already made a decision aboutthe question to delegates “how many of you are and hardware that we use at home or for generic which hardware we’re going to buy. Let’s also assumecurrently deploying or piloting tablet devices?” business purposes? Where is the killer app that is that I’ve got a fantastic deal for the bulk purchaseAlthough highly unscienti c I was interested to see going to radically change aviation in the same way of my devices. We should further take for grantedthat approximately 25% of the audience raised their that Angry Birds radically changed the way that we that we have managed to convince IT that this ishands. Anecdotally I know that many airlines are waste our time? a worthwhile pursuit and that I’ve made all of themaking initial steps to roll out tablet devices for OK, so imagine you’re the CIO for an airline necessary assurances that they going to be givena variety of use cases. ere is trepidation though wanting to build a business case for the deployment adequate resources to support the vast expansion oflargely due to the lack of appropriate useful and of tablets for your ight and cabin crew. their support network and capability requirements. CLICK HERE FOR FULL SOFTWARE DETAILS AND FOR A DEMO order in b ew ca orms n tf repor AP Innovative software to make your airline AS more efficient. Solutions for: Library & Notices Training Management Expenses & Leave Bidding ew se nd cr to es Fuel Analysis & EU-ETS notications outst Safety Management Crew Reporting Journey Log EFB & iPad evoke systems +44 (0)3456 521240 www.evoke-systems.aero
  3. 3. 12 | WHITE PAPER: CONDUCE CONSULTING | AIRCRAFT IT OPERATIONS | AUTUMN 2011Now what? to be purchased and used for my imaginary airline by Alaska Airlines and rolled out to the iPads Obviously, I need to decide on the functions for business case. Furthermore, of the pitiful number purchased for their pilots to help replace the paperwhich we will be using tablets. at should be easy of commercial aviation targeted apps, there is ight manuals that they had been hauling aroundright? We’ve all seen the adverts about how tablets nothing available that isn’t already o ered on other since time immemorial. Assuming that Alaskawill revolutionize our lives. We’re going to be ultra- platforms. In aviation we simply don’t see the mind Airlines has 1400 ight crew; this works out that,connected with simple yet sophisticated so ware blowing, plentiful and cheap innovation that we a er Apple’s 30% cut, GoodReader’s revenue for thisthat will connect to and from anything, which have seen for other consumer markets. gig was a staggering $5,000.means we can do anything for which we used to Why is this? Cue, ironic cheers.have to be in the o ce, but at any time of the day First of all, it’s very hard to make money Secondly, it is very hard indeed to changeor night from anywhere in the world. developing and selling mobile apps to aviation. e platforms and retro t a tablet or mobile enabled Right? prospect of developing an app for what is a limited front end to your existing aviation so ware product. Wrong! aviation market that has a mine eld of regulatory Focusing, for a moment, on developing for Apple’s OK, maybe if my job involves reading magazines, approvals to negotiate is simply too big a risk for iOS iPad and iPhone platform, there are a couple ofvideo-conferencing with my grandchildren, watching most independent technologists to even consider. pre-requisites that you will need.videos, sending emails, writing articles for my blog Compare the aviation app market to the consumer To develop for the iPad you will need anand that I work from my local co ee shop equipped app market and I know where I’d be committing Apple Mac and an iPad, plus Apple’s So warewith perfect Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, as seems to my talent if I were a young developer looking to Development Kit which will set you back $99 athe case for the tablet users on the TV adverts, then make my fortune in so ware development. e year. No big deal I hear you say…. For aroundyes, that’s all possible. so ware engineers of tomorrow aspire to become $3000 that’s you tooled up for one developer. One However, the current crop of tablet devices and successful by developing the next Angry Birds or other small but signi cant investment you will needmost speci cally the iPad were designed purely as the next social media craze, which technically is a to make is around $15 on a book like ‘Objectiveconsumer devices, not business devices. e tablet fair bit simpler than writing something as complex C for Dummies’. Your existing developers maymarket as we know it today is not even 18 months and sophisticated as a crew rostering system. Why well be pro cient in a number of programmingold and the business sector has barely started to would you spend months writing an app for such languages such as Java or one of the various avorsbridge the gap that the consumer market has le in a limited market that you then have to spend time of C, but unless they have already been exposedits wake. If you are expecting to nd a bewildering actively selling and marketing to airlines that have to Objective-C which is the proprietary languagearray of so ware choices for aviation when you existing legacy solutions to the speci c problem that used to develop for iPhone and iPad, then there islog on to any app store, then you have a rude you have solved with your app, when you can spend an awful lot of unlearning and relearning that yourawakening. Today, there are very few tablet apps two nights making a sound board app for the latest developers will need to go through. Objective-C isthat have been speci cally designed and developed comedy catch phrase, put it on the app store for 99 a completely di erent beast from any programmingfor the commercial aviation sector. Of the rst cents and watch the cash roll in. language in which most modern aviation so ware100,000 apps that were launched for the iPad, less Consider the developers of GoodReader, a ve products are written. Cross platform support andthan 4% are aimed at business and there are only a dollar PDF reading app that synchronizes with a reskilling for some of the latest generation tablettiny handful of those apps that are readily available web facing le repository. is app was purchased and mobile devices is a major undertaking for any
  4. 4. AUTUMN 2011 | AIRCRAFT IT OPERATIONS | WHITE PAPER: CONDUCE CONSULTING | 13so ware vendor and should not be underestimated. is factoralone may account for the forecasted success of more familiarprogramming platforms such as Android, Windows and HTML5. Consider also the amount of e ort needed to retool an existingaviation so ware system for use in a mobile tablet environment.Most of the enterprise level aviation so ware packages that weuse today have occupied hundreds of thousands of man-hoursof development and contain millions of lines of code. Even themost up-to-date systems are likely to be based on a technicalarchitecture that pre-dates some of the modern techniques andprocedures that would preclude a near-total rewrite to bolt ona tablet user interface. I have seen at rst-hand the drainingof color from the cheeks of so ware vendor CTOs and CEOswith the shock of realization at just how much resource they aregoing to have to sink into a major rewrite just to provide today’stechnology buyers with something they are growing to expect –their so ware available on a free iPad app. Lastly, the general lack of openness in the aviation industry is amajor barrier to innovation. From an outsider’s perspective thereis a laughable level of opposition to and anxiety about the ideaof open and semantic data, open architecture and open sourcetechnology compared to equivalent industries. is antiquatedattitude to protection of data and intellectual property in aviationby airlines, MROs and so ware vendors alike is preventingindependent technologists from innovating and extending thecapabilities of existing so ware. Instead talented developers areturning their attention to building cheap, simple but lucrativeadd-ins for social media platforms which tend to have a potentialmarket size measured in millions of users, not thousands. ese factors combined mean that o en there is no alternativebut to directly commission your own suite of apps. I do notforesee this situation changing in a hurry. It is going to take many CLICK HERE FOR FULL SOFTWARE DETAILS AND FOR A DEMO
  5. 5. 14 | WHITE PAPER: CONDUCE CONSULTING | AIRCRAFT IT OPERATIONS | AUTUMN 2011 is technical publications. For most airlines it should be a fairly routine and cost saving exercise to convert the current distribution of paper manuals to an electronic distribution of PDF documents saving ample time for pilots, crew and technical librarians alike. Cutting down on crew admin time to receive and incorporate manuals into their already heavy ight bags has a double e ect on productivity. Saving time that pilots and crew, in the crew room, spend fa ng around with manual revisions not only increases their productivity, but reduces the number of duty hours that they consume. A saving in the order of minutes per crew member per month soon factors up to a decent return on investment over a span of years. Some airlines have factored the reduction of the weight of paper being brought on board into their business cases and have calculated attributable fuel savings. Others have included the number of lost productive days based on injuries brought about by lugging around such heavy tomes of manuals in their business cases, and still others have included the cost of mitigating against industrial action by the unions for the alternative of retaining paper manuals for the foreseeable future. It will not be too far in the future that we see more sophisticated technical publication apps which are highly contextual providing a smart way of recognizing the aircra being boarded and presenting only the necessary documents for the user. ere is a lot of scope to move beyond a simple set of synchronized PDF les in future. e acquisition of data is perhaps the most obvious solution that you would wish to implement via a tablet device in ight ops. We see reams and reams of papermonths, or even years in some cases, for so ware vendors to forms being lled incatch up with user demand and release tablet apps of their own or during a ight, gatheredAPIs to allow third parties to easily develop apps. With a meager up and sent back toselection of commercial aviation apps on o er, for what purposes base via 19th centuryshould we be thinking about using tablets in Operations IT? To technology, where it isanswer this question I believe that we have to refer back to what then manually loaded tothe latest tablet devices were originally designed for and translate central systems. Wouldn’tthe intended use cases for the consumer market to our industry it be great if we couldand their potential applications in ight operations. capture that information e iPad and the majority of the latest Android tablet devices on a tablet device andwere designed speci cally for the consumer market and operate auto-magically transmitbest as a means to consume media, for internet browsing, for the data back to basereading and for staying connected through smart working (using once we re-establishemail and other productivity apps). Choosing the best business communications on theapplications for tablets involves translating those device strengths ground? Having a fullinto practical use cases. Doing so in the typical ight operations suite of apps that hookenvironment poses a number of speci c challenges due to the into an existing centralenvironmental constraints. Right now most operators have system is the holy grailrestricted, at best, or zero communications in ight and potentially of tablet ROI, but it islimited connectivity on the ground. We may also have to relyentirely on a single battery charge for the duration of a ight andbeyond. Having said that, certain tablet characteristics are wellsuited to ight operations making them seemingly a more suitabledevice compared to existing EFBs and other devices which havegone before. Most tablets really do have an all-day battery life. Iuse an iPad, and this device can go days on end without the needto be charged. Even with continuous use, the batteries should lasta full working day with no problem. Today’s tablets are lighter,smaller and more easily stowed than a laptop, a netbook or otherequivalent devices. ey are also amongst the most desirableitems on the technology market today and this, for me, is a vitalfactor when it comes to usability and user adoption. Let’s take it for granted that users will be working smarter usingtablets through the usual suite of productivity apps, such as email,calendar, to-do lists, and o ce apps hooked in to cloud baseddocument storage. at’s pretty obvious and each airline andindividual will have their favored methods of working here, as theconcept of remote working for ight and cabin crew is alreadywell established for many airlines. e next most obvious application for tablets, which most earlyadopting airlines have used as their primary business case driver,
  6. 6. AUTUMN 2011 | AIRCRAFT IT OPERATIONS | WHITE PAPER: CONDUCE CONSULTING | 15less than straight forward to realize. As I mentioned iPads in a pilot study. Would you expect to see abefore, most so ware vendors of existing aviation similar willingness to ‘bring your own technology’business systems simply aren’t geared up to provide for some of the hardware and so ware trends thatsuch apps, and, worse still, their so ware does not have gone before? Eighty per cent of the samepossess the requisite infrastructure to make third airline’s ight crew are existing iPhone users, so theparty application development a straightforward roll out of iPads to an eager set of users is expectedor inexpensive proposition. Secondly, most to go without too many hitches and minimalenterprise level business applications require a familiarization training.bi-directional ow of data to operate normally. As Analysts predict a bright future for the edglingwell as acquiring data from the user, we normally tablet market. Apple currently has a 61% marketneed to interrogate or validate against data held share and has sold nearly 30 million iPads to date.and maintained in the central repository. In these Recent Gartner studies suggest that by 2015 theretimes, prior to ubiquitous and inexpensive in ight will have been approaching 300 million iPad salesWi-Fi, it is a much simpler proposition to plan for and it is hard to believe that they will have held oasynchronous data acquisition. Rather than looking the might of Android to have such a strong marketto provide wall to wall o ine capability of existing share by that time. Even with the most conservativesystems, I would encourage so ware vendors and market estimates, it is widely believed that tabletsairlines to start small and provide apps with limited will be pretty abundant. Combining this withfeatures for use in cases where validation or cross ubiquitous Wi-Fi, in- ight connectivity and the nextchecking of latest data sets is relatively immaterial. generation of aviation and business apps on theConsider an aircra maintenance repair system horizon, could we really be seeing the advent of awhere we are recording vast amounts technology revolution? I’m not sure about theof data relating to aircra maintenance, demise of the PC, but I do think that tabletsjourney logs, defects, maintenance represent a long term technology solution ratherforecasts and so on. None of this data is than a simple trend..relevant to a pilot who simply wants toraise a single defect. He has little interest in previousdefects or maintenance history, hesimply wants to record a fault and haveit recti ed at the earliest opportunity. e same would apply to cabin defects,crew fatigue reports, cabin safety PAUL SAUNDERSreports and other safety occurrences.‘Always connected’ applications are a Paul works in the UK forlong way o , so airlines should think Co Conduce Consulting and Conduceabout starting small with one eye on So Software developing andthe future. optimization and diagnostic apps, which currently im implementing aviation software. Charts and navigation apps have come a long need a PC on which to operate, have the potential He has spent the past 13 yearsway in just a few months. e Jeppesen and Lido to be tweaked to run on tablets. e promise of working in Aeros Aerospace IT within MROs, OEMscharting apps which were essentially glori ed proof tablet devices running Windows 8 that are just as and Software Companies in the UK and theof concepts for the iPad at the beginning of 2011 are good as the current forerunning tablets cannot come Middle East. In recent years he has been heavilynow almost fully featured with enough functional soon enough for some so ware vendors. involved in developing software with a focusand content coverage to meet the needs of the e consumer IT industry has been on user experience and user centric design.majority of mainstream airlines. eir business characteristically swi to seize upon the technology He regularly writes and present on trendsmodels for monetization make great sense, where trend of tablet devices. Unsurprisingly Apple’s iPad within aviation IT, being described by somethe app is given away on iTunes, acting as a shop is at the forefront of a revolution that is leading to as ‘visionary’. Paul has recently worked on thewindow of capability, whilst content is distributed the consumerisation of business so ware. Airlines design and development of a number of tabletthrough subscription services. is is a business around the world have recognized that iPads and and mobile apps for aviation and has assistedmodel being copied by similar so ware subscription other tablets are here for the long haul and have airlines, MROs and software vendors devise andservices. It is unlikely that we will see iPad apps made sensible baby steps towards adopting such implement mobile and tablet strategies.acting as primary navigational devices instead of on- technology. In spite of the current limitations thatboard systems, but it is widely believed that tertiary I have mentioned, many airlines have already ASK THE EXPERTnavigation and weather charting apps might be on e ectively and creatively constructed business plans In addition to being available now to answertheir way. for the acquisition of iPads or other tablets, whilst any questions you have arising from this White We should expect to see a whole host of niche keeping one eye on long term plans for further roll Paper, Paul Saunders and his colleagues Wayneutility and productivity apps springing up with out and utilization. User adoption of such devices Enis and Rachel Andrews are available all yearOEMs, MROs and aviation service providers and systems is excellent. One airline that I have round for one-to-one consultancies via the Askactively evaluating how they can extend their worked with had no fewer than twenty volunteer The Expert feature at www.aircraftIT.com. Theyservice capability through technology. Performance ight crew who signed up to use their own personal will be happy to assist you with your queries. INTERACTIVE About Conduce Consulting ASK THE AUTHOR A QUESTION CLICK HERE TO LEAVE YOUR QUESTION Conduce Consulting is the consulting arm of Conduce Group. Their focus is on the relationship between IT and corporate strategy. They provide high quality professional services in a number of elds including Enterprise Architecture, Project Management, Data Services and Business INTERACTIVE JOIN THE DEBATE Consultancy in the Aviation IT sector. CLICK HERE TO LEAVE YOUR FEEDBACK ABOUT THIS ARTICLE AND START OR JOIN A DISCUSSION