Global Air Ambulance Service Adopts Cloud-Based Maintenance Tracking to Drive Efficiency
REVA Air Ambulance’s operational focus is one of accessibility. The Part 135 on-demand medical transport service promises 24/7 service for anyone in need, from marooned hikers to critically-ill patients, anywhere in the world. It’s a challenging mission that requires considerable focus on people, process and aircraft.
To maintain its 24/7 services, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based REVA manages the largest fixed-wing air ambulance in the western hemisphere from four bases: Phoenix, Arizona; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Schenectady, New York; and its headquarters in Fort Lauderdale. The fleet of 19 aircraft includes 14 Learjets, two Hawker 800XPs, two Citations and one Cessna 402B. These fixed-winged, medically- equipped aircraft with life-support equipment onboard are capable of short-range, as well as long-range and international flights, all supported by a state-of-the-art, 24-hour Communications Center. Since 2012, REVA has completed over 25,000 combined successful patient transports in 65 countries largely located in Europe; North, Central and South America; and the Caribbean.
To meet and exceed its goals, the company is looking to technology, specifically enterprise-wide maintenance tracking.
REVA’s approach to aircraft maintenance and inspection is one of comprehensive and continuous improvement that includes daily safety initiatives, a focus on quality control related to flight and medical-risk factors, and streamlined workflows for ease and accuracy. Since the company’s inception, REVA’s maintenance team has relied on technology to help support their complex workflow.
Alain Vallejo, Maintenance Manager for REVA, recalls, “We have a large fleet. Regular and carefully monitored maintenance and inspection are, of course, vital. Besides spreadsheets, we were using another record keeping product.”
However, the combination of spreadsheets and some digital documentation didn’t effectively support current operational needs in the way of visibility and single-source data entry, review, management and storage.
“Essentially, we needed more of a complete enterprise solution,” adds Vallejo. “We needed a tool that could manage and sort a lot of information and all the inventory control needs that go hand-in-hand with managing a fleet of our size and age.”
That’s when REVA looked to more advanced maintenance tracking solutions.
When asked about expectations of an automated record keeping solution, Coursey explains, “There are several things that we wanted to track: safety records and reports, regulatory requirements with regard to components, inspections per manufacturer and, of course, our costs. We need to know which aircraft are performing well and which need more TLC.”
After a comprehensive assessment of aircraft maintenance tracking solutions, REVA enrolled with Flightdocs Enterprise, an advanced aircraft tracking and maintenance tracking solution, in 2015.
Today, the Flightdocs Maintenance Tracking module is integral to all maintenance activities in the organization. Vallejo says, “We use Flightdocs to make sure maintenance tracking is up-to-date. With our extensive fleet and multiple bases of operation, it’s possible to miss an inspection item. With electronic tracking, we have simplified the process while providing to-the-minute accuracy and compliance.”
Specifically, he points to the Maintenance Tracking dashboard that provides a big picture look at the entire fleet and easy access to “due list” status indicators.
“With Flightdocs, we have more oversight with less work,” confirms Vallejo. “The director, quality inspector and I are all able to look at the same information with just a few clicks. We can communicate with pilots much faster and share information in real-time without duplicate data entry.”
Jonathan Harriston, Chief Inspector with REVA, responsible for quality assurance and auditing, says he now looks to Flightdocs on a daily basis to ensure accuracy. He adds, “Flightdocs helps us track maintenance activity across our entire fleet -items coming due both by date and hourly. We need to have a hold on that information to support AAIPs, MELs, etc. — Flightdocs makes that process easy.”
Reports, Records, and Research
All REVA maintenance task cards are automated through Flightdocs. With the click of a button on an iPad, technicians can see and print their due list.
Patricia McPhee, Maintenance Administrator / Coordinator with REVA, is responsible for checking daily reports, verifying flightlog times, entering maintenance and pilot discrepancies, and entering and closing out mechanic times. She adds, “Through Flightdocs, we’ve established a highly accurate record of our daily activities like labor hours and cost per flight hour, and cost of scheduled and unscheduled maintenance per aircraft. It’s digital organization that helps us understand what we do on a daily, monthly and annual basis.”
Vallejo believes the electronic records have also helped the team solve problems quicker and easier. “Sometimes with troubleshooting aircraft, there are similar recurring issues and similar solutions. In the past, we’ve had to sort through paper logbooks to find discrepancies or troubleshoot problems. With Flightdocs, we’re able to see the maintenance history of every aircraft at the touch of a button.”
Less Redundancy, More Air Time
Vallejo estimates, “On a weeklong project, we save 1.5 hours in paperwork with Flightdocs. For a three-week long project, we are realizing a four-hour time savings on paperwork. Bottom line, we’re able to have our airplanes ready for dispatch sooner.”
Harriston points to one often-overlooked consideration that he believes is critical to the adoption of any maintenance tracking solution: customer service. He adds, “It’s not that easy to get a customer service representative to answer the phone anymore. But it’s one of the biggest benefits that we’ve realized since the implementation of Flightdocs. Immediate support has helped us make the most of our record-keeping platform.”
The Paperless Promise
With electronic record-keeping in place, the REVA maintenance team is now looking to expand their use of Flightdocs to include work orders, inventory control, electronic logbooks and e-signatures.
Harriston confirms, “Flightdocs has opened a whole new world of possibilities. Once we enrolled in Flightdocs and could see all of our aircraft and associated maintenance activities, we started to see other areas of improvement that we didn’t think about, like work orders, parts procurement and parts management.”
“Now, we’re looking for other ways to assimilate the technology with our processes”, Harriston continues.
The Inventory Control Dashboard is one such area of focus. With the Item Catalog and Custom Equipment Management feature, the avionics inventory system streamlines inventory management and auto-populates the Maintenance Tracking Dashboard for true integration.
Coursey continues, “Our goal is to have a just-in-time inventory. Technology, specifically powerful tracking software, can help us understand our usage data so we have the right stock levels. Part-and-parcel with that information is the need to track and create work orders. Knowledge about work orders, labor hours and part costs allows us to understand the needs behind every one of our tail numbers and drive efficiency.”
As well, REVA believes electronic signatures will save time, particularly for technicians. REVA is currently working with the FAA to obtain OpSpec A025 authorization for electronic record-keeping.
Harriston adds, “Once we get A025 authorization, we’ll be able to use the Flightdocs maintenance solution to considerably reduce the time it takes to complete necessary paperwork and accuracy, which is a tedious and time-consuming process right now.”
Coursey concludes, “Flightdocs helps me assure that we’re compliant with federal aviation regulations, develop work orders, purchase orders, etc. I’m excited to put Flightdocs to work across all facets of the flight operations business. The system has a lot of resources and capabilities that will help us better understand our operational costs, strategically grow our operation and create a paperless work environment.”