Early Adoption of Electronic Aircraft Maintenance Continues to Drive Efficiency
Stryker Corporation, a Fortune 500 medical technologies firm based in Kalamazoo, MI, relies on business jets to get their executives anywhere they need to go safely and quickly, sometimes at a moment’s notice. In any given year, the professional team might travel to as many as 130 different countries.
The company’s fleet includes two Dassault Falcon 2000XLS wide-body aircraft and one Bombardier Global Express, with a range of over 7,000 nm. Keeping these three high-flying, long-range aircraft airworthy is the job of the talented Stryker maintenance team.
Brad Ongna, Aircraft Maintenance and Inspection Manager for Stryker, says, “Like any aircraft maintenance team knows, there is considerable annual cost in the operation and maintenance of aircraft from acquisition through operation to the resale. We have to maintain those aircraft to maintain dispatch reliability. Capturing maintenance and operational data is vital — a capability that is better facilitated with advanced technology.”
Stryker was an early adopter of Flightdocs Enterprise maintenance record compliance and management solution and continues to find ways to use the maintenance, compliance and inventory management capabilities to drive efficiency and operational safety.
Along with its 10 pilots, Stryker employs four full-time FAA approved Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) Technicians.
Sr. Manager Flight Operations & Maintenance Greg Hamelink shifted the organization away from handwritten logbook entries and spreadsheets to Flightdocs Enterprise more than five years ago to take advantage of the solution’s maintenance tracking as well as management of electronic logbooks and work orders.
Hamelink adds, “For management purposes, we really like the Maintenance Tracking Dashboard, which allows users to check the status of fleet or maintenance items and easy access to due list status indicators. I really like the daily updates feature as well that provides a quick review of all maintenance information that has been submitted.”
The electronic system is also helping technicians streamline their reporting and documentation tasks. He adds, “It takes just a few clicks to make a maintenance revision to a logbook entry — 30 seconds or less. Simply pull off the previous signature, edit the book and re-sign. When I review logbooks, the system alerts me to revisions.”
The addition of new aircraft to the system is also easy. Stryker recently enrolled two brand new Dassault Falcons to its fleet. Ongna adds, “Flightdocs did 95% of the work. When the aircraft came from the manufacturer, Flightdocs worked directly with Falcon to make sure that all of the maintenance data was included and correct. All we had to do was audit the information for accuracy.”
The unified database and automatic tracking of service bulletins and airworthiness directives also helps the maintenance team manage critical updates and prepare for inspections and audits.
“Inspections can be stressful,” says Ongna. “There are always questions during the process about what was signed off when. With paper documentation, the process could be overwhelming, particularly when scanning a due list. With electronic maintenance, and specifically the Flightdocs Work Order module, I start building due lists from day one and can pull that information up with the touch of a button. I love that aspect of Flightdocs because all of the information is in one spot.”
He further notes that he appreciates the automatic notifications about service bulletins and airworthiness directives. “With the scope and scale of inspections these days increasing, as well as the quantity of maintenance items and equipment that must be tracked, we could easily miss something,” he continues. “But not with Flightdocs in our corner. Everything is in one database with automatic notifications. If we didn’t have that, we’d have to do that legwork to track them.”
As with any quality technology, the Stryker team looks to see continuous improvement from its Flightdocs solution.
Ongna explains, “We like that Flightdocs is always adding more features across all platforms. Their developers regularly ask about what we need and how the processes could be more streamlined. Another thing that I appreciate is that when I have a problem with, or a question about the program, I can call Flightdocs and a person answers the phone. No button pushing to get to where you talk to a real individual. Their staff’s knowledge base is impressive.”
The Move to Mobile
As an early adopter, Stryker continues to find new ways to use the Flightdocs solution. Ongna confirms, “There’s a lot of capability in the system; it’s very powerful. One functionality that we plan to take advantage of very soon is mobile access. We do a lot of work from our smartphones and iPads.”
From taking pictures to recording notes, the Stryker team believes Flightdocs’ added functionality in the mobile environment will benefit everyone in terms of efficiency. “We can bring up logbooks or work orders on the floor, review the task at hand, and move forward efficiently,” Ongna adds. “I believe it will minimize the questions we have when reviewing logbooks, maintenance records, etc.”
Hamelink sees mobile access to aircraft data as vital to efficient and confident maintenance planning, adding, “Not only do I have instant access to aircraft maintenance details, but I can dig out part numbers if I need them. I can even monitor our aircraft health and records while in flight and often address issues or track a discrepancy report and start a maintenance plan before it lands so that we can keep our aircraft in top shape and ready to fly.”
He concludes, “Flightdocs helps me look at long-range projections on a day-to-day basis. I can make educated decisions about aircraft scheduling because the information is accessible and current. Simply put, Flightdocs just makes us all more efficient and more effective.”