5 min read

Avoid Potential Disaster: How Outdated Software Cost These Companies Millions

Can disasters like this be prevented? With the right technology, such as ATP’s suite of solutions, absolutely! Manage everything from maintenance and operations to manuals and diagnostics, with ATP’s suite of solutions.

Aviation atrocities are dominating the media cycle recently - from the grounding of all nationwide flights from an unspecified FAA computer glitch to more than 16,000 flights being canceled and leaving hundreds of thousands of airline customers stranded and stressed out over the holiday season.  

While the fallout from the FAA issue is yet to be seen, the Southwest Airlines mishap is reported to have cost the airline conglomerate more than $800 million. That tally includes millions of dollars in refunds and reimbursements for distraught customers and an expensive software update the airline giant now must go through. In a world where technology changes faster than jet speed, keeping up with systems and software to ensure your operations run smoothly can be a daunting task.
 
“Both of these instances are prime examples that old software can work for a long time with a few hiccups, but you’re always just one major mishap away from a complete disaster,” said Sam Wilson, a solution engineer for ATP, the leading provider of information services and software solutions for the aviation industry. “Now, more than ever, it is imperative for companies to be investing up front in the latest technology when it comes to tracking and maintenance.” 
 
Unfortunately, outdated technology is not an isolated issue, Wilson says. 
 
“There are a lot of aviation companies out there — corporate flight departments, charter companies, and commercial airlines — that are using severely outdated systems and even in-house spreadsheets designed years ago to track flights, crew, and maintenance.”  
 
Sam Wilson is a pilot who also has a flight dispatcher’s license. He worked in the airline industry from 1992 to 2006 for Atlantic Coast Airlines, a subsidiary of United Express, which went out of business, forcing his move into charter aviation. He worked in Saudi Arabia and the Virgin Islands before doing aviation software consulting as a contractor for ATP Flightdocs in 2018. In 2020, he became a full-time employee, where he worked as a business analyst, a scrum software product owner, and now as a solution engineer.
 
Below, Sam answers some questions on how aviation companies can prevent a potential disaster with a better technology platform to manage everything from maintenance and operations to manuals and diagnostics, such as ATP’s suite of solutions. 

What solutions does ATP offer that can help streamline the process?

ATP delivers integrated and optimized aviation maintenance, inventory, and operations software for real-time visibility into your data across departments. The seamless solution provides everything you need to manage your operation effectively with a central dashboard that shows information about the entire aircraft fleet at a glance. When the Director of Maintenance logs on first thing in the morning, he can see everything right there. The same is true for the inventory manager; all of their inventory across multiple locations is visible on the same dashboard.
 
On the scheduling side, there is another dashboard with upcoming trips that can share information from the maintenance side. This is crucial because how you do maintenance on your aircraft depends on how you schedule the aircraft for trips. The scheduler can go in, view days in advance, and see the maintenance items plotted right on the schedule so there’s no more wondering. There’s no guesswork or need to make a phone call or stop anyone else’s workflow to check on an aircraft because it is all in front of you in real time. 
 
When you go out into the marketplace right now, you have to get all these solutions separately and then deal with several sign-ons from all the different programs -- and none of them talk to each other. You also have to hire someone to transpose the data from one to the other, and back and forth. This human interaction takes time and can understandably cause errors.
Our fully integrated solution is proven to eliminate inefficiencies, reduce costs, and increase aircraft uptime with scheduling software in a modern and secure cloud-based environment.

The FAA requires carriers to approve flight crews are legal before they can accept a flight schedule. Does ATP have a solution for that?

ATP enhances communications, streamlines data flow, and keeps flight scheduling and trip planning moving effortlessly with our flight operations software. ATP Flightdocs has the ability to track crew on the regulatory side with a dashboard that shows how many hours they’ve been flying, any currencies, pilot logbooks, certificates, etc. Currently, our tracking is on a smaller scale for companies, with at the most, about 400 aircraft on their system with a couple hundred pilots.
 
Pilots can only accept a trip if they are legal to fly, meaning they’ve had enough rest, haven’t flown over a certain number of hours in a certain amount of time, and their documents are valid. That was also an element of the Southwest fiasco — even if a scheduler were to call a pilot and ask them to fly a repositioned plane, they couldn’t accept the trip without being able to show they were legally able to fly. That system was also down and in that type of scenario, that pilot could technically not accept the assignment.
 
At Southwest Airlines, a huge organization with about 60,000 employees, they have outgrown their crew tracking software by more than three times. Social media posts show the pilot’s unions have been asking for better solutions for years.
 
During the holiday season, with major weather events and lots of moving parts, they had no way to track flight crews. No one knew where the flight attendants or pilots were or what assignments they had next. Flight crews were spread out all over the map and no one knew where they were supposed to be or how to get them where they needed to be. That was one of the main problems with not being able to reschedule flights. Although the airline is making it right and taking care of people by reimbursing tickets, giving points, etc. they have undoubtedly lost precious uptime.
 
What ATP brings to the table is a state-of-the-art platform that provides companies with one sharable dashboard that delivers integrated and optimized aviation maintenance, inventory, and operations software for real-time visibility into your data across multiple departments to help aviation organizations maximize aircraft readiness and utilization.

Why choose ATP?

It’s very easy to use, web-based, and your whole operation is in one platform. I can do my work no matter where I am with a laptop or with an iPad because we offer the same functionality in our apps. I can run my whole entire operations very seamlessly, and our customer support is second to none – at least that’s what our customers tell us all the time. Onboarding is easy and we partner with our customers through the whole process. 

Here’s a good example: I can type a number down on a spreadsheet and I thought I hit a seven, but I hit a nine. That’s a big difference if you’re talking about someone’s flight time. Without a software platform that is user-friendly and all-encompassing, it can feel like you’re playing 3D chess. Sure, you have a really smart employee who is knocking it out of the ballpark with multiple spreadsheets and multiple versions of those spreadsheets and is keeping track of all of it, but that person can’t work 24/7. It’s when they have to give that information over to someone else and a mistake is made. That mistake costs money, loses customers and wastes peoples’ time. It doesn’t matter if it’s for maintenance, inventory or flight scheduling. It’s just too much data and too important to be relying on spreadsheets. 
 
ATP offers software solutions because we realize that keeping track of the latest spreadsheet version causes mistakes and computers break. With our system, there is no need for spreadsheets, thumb drives, etc. because our dashboard gives everyone access to everything. And if you don’t want everyone to have access, you can grant permissions. That’s why you need ATP. 


About ATP.

ATP is the leading provider of aviation software and information services, supporting more than 75,000 aircraft maintenance professionals and 7,500 customers worldwide. We help everyone from business aviation and MROs to airlines and OEMs get their aircraft more uptime. Challenges like unscheduled repairs, part availability, and excessive paperwork lead to too many aircraft spending too much time on the ground. And that leads to needless delays, endless back and forth, and lots of wasted dollars. The key to more uptime is having a better technology platform to manage everything from maintenance and operations to manuals and diagnostics.

That’s why thousands of aircraft operators, 25% of the worldwide commercial fleet, and over 100 OEMs all rely on ATP. And it’s why customers have been able to achieve an average 23% reduction in downtime cost. ATP. Let’s get you more uptime. 

ATP shares 4 integral things your aviation software platform should have to ensure smoother flight operations.

Must-haves for Smoother Flight Operations & More Uptime

Aircraft operators are always looking for ways to improve their operations while increasing efficiency. Proactive improvement is essential for...

Read More
 Streamline your aircraft maintenance and compliance with our maintenance tracking software that automates workflows, scales reporting, and advances mobile access.

Aircraft Maintenance Checklists – Things You Need for Better Efficiency & More Uptime

What is your time worth? This is a common question that is often quantified by compensation and based on expertise, experience, potential, and the...

Read More
Can disasters like this be prevented? With the right technology, such as ATP’s suite of solutions, absolutely! Manage everything from maintenance and operations to manuals and diagnostics, with ATP’s suite of solutions.

Avoid Potential Disaster: How Outdated Software Cost These Companies Millions

Aviation atrocities are dominating the media cycle recently - from the grounding of all nationwide flights from an unspecified FAA computer glitch to...

Read More