By Dan Cook |
13 Jan 2022
Interested in learning why over 90 operators in more than 51 countries are using the skybook digital solutions for airlines, with our flight dispatchers, pilots EFB and aviation software?
Luckily, we have made it easy for you!
Two of our product experts James Cartwright and Simon Clayton feature in this extensive video overview that explains the skybook software from integrating all your airlines critical data into skybook, to accessing all the data post flight.
Be sure to watch our video via the link below or read the transcipt below, which was initially hosted on Aircraft IT in December.
Hi there. My name is James Cartwright. I'm the global business manager for Bytron aviation systems. You'll be joining myself and Simon Clayton. Simon is our chief operating officer at Bytron at our Kirmington headquarters in the UK. As we take a look through skybook, but more importantly, we focus on the problems and the challenges that we can help our customers to directly address.
So skybook is a SaaS based product. Consists of a web application portal, which is our ground portal. If you like, and this is for operations teams, dispatch teams, flight followers, based within airlines or operators of any discipline there. And then we've got the skybook EFB, which is our tablet application that's available for iOS, Android, or can also be taken via, windows devices currently in use with operators around the world. In fact, with over 90 different operators around the world, and that's thanks to the flexible way in which, we can fully configure skybook to meet even the most stringent of needs from any operator. Now, as a solution skybook is proven to help improve communication across departments. It brings teams together through collective ownership and access. It's proven to increase situational awareness on a global basis.
It improves safety and helps make faster decisions with more information around. It helps to review workloads and improve workflows, create connected solutions through integration. It will automate previously labor intensive jobs and above all else. It will help to improve on time performance and play a leading role in helping you to understand areas that can be improved to hit your emissions targets.
The most important thing for me to do right now is introduce Simon Clayton. So let's start by taking a look at how we offer a range of seamless integrations and in doing so, what problems are we helping airlines to ultimately address? So just explain a little bit about why we're different as a company and how we, ultimately approach integrating problems.
We've taken on a lot of integrations over the years and skybook itself has been around for 21 years now. And so we, we take a holistic approach to integration. It's the major factor that differentiates us from, from all our competitors. So the way we look at it, we actually split it into, into three different groups of things. Obviously there's inputs, what can skybook take into the system to make the airlines life easier? So that's dispatchers and pilots. What we can do with that data is in making life easier for pilots and dispatchers. And finally, what can we do for the airline in general, um, with the data that's collected by skybook. So to expand on that a bit more, simple thing that we'll do is take in the flight schedule and the crew roster. We can turn that in from different third party suppliers.
It could be AIMs, it could be Blue One, it could be Saber. You name it, we've probably done the integration for it. And on top of that, we then build on top of the flight plan. So the OFP, and again, we take that from lots of different providers. You could say we're agnostic. So Jeppesen, so we'll take it on jet planner. Navblue, PPS, flight keys. So anyone you can name we've dealt with the past, we can take that data in and do something useful in skybook with it. I'll go onto that in a, in more detail in a moment. Another thing that we've added on over the lifetime of skybook is things like taking in, documents. So things like load sheet and Notocs, airfield briefings and again, seamlessly integrated. And the way you can integrate that data into skybook is in various different, ways.
We start off originally with SFTP, a really well known method of certain transferring data between systems. And we've added onto that our own API, which customers now use to supply data to us and also the industry standard IBM MQ, which a lot of airlines now adopt to give seamless integration between systems. Other integrations we've done in the past few years, MEL. So the minimum equipment list on, on the flight deck, we integrate with lots of different systems to get the data, such as AMOS. One thing that we've added in the last 18 months or so is the ability to take eff packages in from other suppliers. So although skybook, generates, EFF packages, we can actually take your fuel providers.
EFF package can take data out of that. So if you prefer to use, Jeppesen's weather in NOTAM data from their EFF package Skybook can take that, add all the other information to it, that Skybook integrates and then supply that amalgamated version of EFF to the pilots. So it has added value on top of what fuel and Nav provider can provide. And so once we've collated all that information, um, then there's obvious things that we wanna do with that dispatches wants be able to look at the data. They want specific information. So the weather and note Tammy, or route specific, um, that they want to be able to review the data for. They then release it to the crew, so our ground portal allows the customer to do that before releasing the package out to the EFB.
So, EFB wise, obviously the skybook, application, which we'll show you later on where we can deliver data two and there's benefits to, to use our app over other EFB's we can also deliver our EFF packages to any third party EFB.
We enable you to use whatever systems you want and provide it in a holistic way that makes everybody's lives easier. So rather than you having to go around and integrate everything itself, you can choose the best application you want, the best provider of fuel and nav planning schedule, and we'll integrate it all together into a, into a coherent package.
So I guess another question then brilliant getting all of this data in and being able to make it usable within a product by skybook. But what about, how we ultimately then extract it from skybook and give it back to the, to the operator post flight?
So again, with our experience over the last six or seven years with the latest versions of the technology, airlines become more used using the data comes back from the pilots. So obviously traditionally they used the paper in the envelope and that took a long time to process, but now airlines are, are all cottoned on to the fact that actually this data is valuable and powerful and they want it back as, as quick as possible. And so we can provide that data out to the customer in various different ways. We can send it out, as Json data, as XML data directly into the systems. We have our own reporting and analytics module, where you can visualize the data, ourself within skybook. And obviously you can use that data within different departments. You might want receipts going off to the finance department.
You might want to look at your de-icing activity. Your actual fuel burn against planned. And so skybook enables all that. We also have an API that allows you to trigger events in your existing operations system. So every time a pilot downloads an EFF package signs, an EFF package closes one off, we can trigger events into your ops system as well. So all systems on the ground can be integrated as well.
Simon makes a really good point there in relation to, what we can do with our APIs to create fully digital workflows within skybook that will help to replace what could have been two or three people involved in printing documentation, running to the flight deck with it, getting the captain to sign off on it five minutes before, push back, then taking our paperwork back to the office. For instance, you know, these are just some examples of the number of different ways that we can utilize the integrated data there. So we'll now take a look at the, the next section.
The next big challenge that we face on a regular basis and we see a lot of operators experiencing is this, disparate number of systems that they have to use in order to try and piece together, all the information needed for their flights. So that might not be something that needs to be integrated, but, you know, certainly having to review NOTAMS over here, Metar and TAF over here, flight documentation from another place, that that's not helpful. It's not a good use of time. So how does skybook, if we, if we were to look at this from the point of, a dispatch team, for example, how can skybook ultimately be used, in a way that helps operators to maybe get rid of some of these excess subscriptions and, manage that information and that status.
Yeah, it's a good question, James. And I can show you through a short demonstration of skybook flight operations and dispatch monitor. This allows a dispatcher to look at all of the flights that skybook currently knows about. So whether they're from the schedule, um, so from Aims or blue one or saber, and then it'll overlay it with the OFP as the OFP is released or few plans released from flight planning. We'll bring that in and get the latest information like the estimates for the flight, the actual flight route. And so you can see there's, there's various types of information on here. We, we know that the day of the flight, the status, and we'll come back to the status in a moment, cause these are quite important cause they, they tell you the workflow.
From the pilots point of view. So it dispatching knows where the pilots at, within regards to the effect package. There's more status information. So these have all come from OFP. So from the flight plan, the dispatcher can confirm the flight plan number with the pilot's very important that when they're talking to one another or communicating that they're talking about same flight plan. And so skybook brings that flight plan number in obvious things like the registration of the aircraft, departure and destination. So things you typically see on a normal ops board, but what skybook also allows you to do is look at everything that's been integrated or supply into that flight. So, we've spoke in the first section about bringing in things like, loadsheets and NOTOCs.
And you can see on this particular flight that these are already loaded in. So skybook identified them as, as a load sheet, as a NOTOC. And the dispatchers have actually added, a general notice to the flight as well. So as a dispatcher, you may want to get something out, an airfield brief, or some safety information and dispatch can manually add that into the flight. So it's quite easy for the dispatcher to review that documentation and then make sure everything's there that that's required. And similarly there's other methods of getting information out there as well. You might want to send an instant message. So two our skybook app, there's a two way, instant message chat function. So you don't have to get on the radio, can do it via text chat.
Sector messages are simple text messages. These pop up right at the start on skybook as the pilot logs into the app. So it'll be quick things like, remember to do this, things that don't warrant a big document or a PDF document. A Quick message, a little bit read and signed. So can you read this, can you acknowledge, you've read it. Other things that dispatcher can do is look at the depart and destination weather. So very important. They want make sure the weather's good. So here you can see straight away we have the Metar and the TAF.
And skybook splits it down and you'll see these colour codes throughout the system. So the colour code is showing dispatchers the minima that's set within skybook by the airline. The weather's fine that there's nothing, to look at there.
So that's not generic information that's specific to the airline?
That's specific to the airline, so they set those minimas up, based on their operations. And their defined minima and skybook reflects that in a traffic like system. So we'll see green, amber and red. You can also look at TAF trends, so you can look at all of the taps that are being received over a period of time. As we go down the data for the destination airfields, we can see, now that there's a NOTAM colour coded in red
And this is another way of highlighting to the dispatcher. That there's an issue that they should be aware of. So in this case, the system has been set up to show that runway close is an issue that, that they should do something about. The airline can settle, any of this criteria themselves. So it's not skybook dictating runway closures one that should be highlighted, its the airline who set those up.
What about, being able to give an operator a more holistic overview of what's going on so they can see flight times, for example, not just the static information.
So skybook also has an ops board module... this is a traditional ops board, as you've seen in an ops room in an airline. You have all your aircraft down the left hand side and the sectors that they flying. So what we've done deliberately is set up a clash of sectors. So you can see that if there's an estimate or a delay comes in from the EFB or from any other source. Then you can see the impact on any subsequent sector.
One thing to say is that all of the actions that available in dispatch are also available through the ops board. So everything we've seen in dispatch is available here as well. The dispatcher always knows what stage that EFF package is at throughout the journey.
So I guess two questions immediately spring to mind the first one being if like a lot of airlines do, they've got, predetermined processes, they've got a number of things that need to happen in set periods of time for the flights to getaway on time. Can that type of workflow be built into skybook? So if I don't download my briefing package by X time, it's gonna be telling somebody in the system automatically.
Absolutely, the icons in the center of the blocks is telling you the current status. So if we get within say minus one hour of STD, and the pilots downloaded that icon will change, a notification will always will appear. Which will be telling the dispatcher and you can also email people as well. So you could even email the pilot and say, why haven't you downloaded your flight.
So in reality, I don't even need to be logged into skybook to know that I've not done something or there is something going. And is that the same, I guess another common thing, flight plan changes.
So flight plan changes, obviously critical, cause you want to know that the pilot's got exactly the same information as the flight plan dispatcher. Next to the flight plan there would be a red triangle and a notification appears to tell the dispatcher that a new updated OFP has been received. The dispatcher then, accepts or rejects that OFP. And as soon as he does that, that then gets triggered out to the EFB for the pilot, to tell them that there's a new OFP. So again, notification pops up in the EFB app. The pilot knows to do something two clicks, latest information. And I it refreshes the weather and NOTAMs.
Brilliant, so you don't need to print off another 80 page briefing package, leg it to the flight deck. Quickly hand it over.
Improving flight safety. So as I say, bold statement, what we're gonna show you will quantify just how far you can go within skybook, not only to generate the type of information you need to make sure your pilots fly safely, and your ops and dispatch teams have got the information they need to spot problems early. But also how far we can ultimately go to tailor all of this information specific to each operator. As part of the skybook package, you get all of your weather, and all of your NOTAM information included, you get all of your charts included. Our weather comes directly from the UK met office. Our NOTAM information comes directly from Euro control. And what Simon's now gonna do is explain what we do with that information to make sure that when an airline or an operator sees a critical status update, they know that it's specific to their safe operating limit. So, Simon, over to you, how do we do it?
We've got a number of tools at the disposal for an airline to actually tailor their briefings for the crews and how they want to operate. One of the major tools that got, is allowing the airline to set their operational minima, to the airfields that they're flying too.
We can set minima for Ceiling and visibility, RVR, wind speed and wind gust. And we've already seen where these core codes are appearing when we're looking at the dispatch monitor. So for the dispatcher say for example, the cloud ceiling was, lower than 1475. Then the METAR would be showing red, similar for the TAF. And it's that simple really, you set the ranges up and then skybook does the rest. We can do that for various things. This is a general setting, so for any airfield that we haven't categorized in any other way, skybook will apply these defaults. But what we can actually do is categorize airfields into groups A, B, and C, and they can all have different minima.
So you may be flying into Kathmandu, and in fact with Kathmandu we have a lot of airlines put specific minima because it's very difficult to land at. You've got all that flexibility built into skybook. One of the other things I wanted to share was how we deal with NOTAM data. So NOTAMs, the pain of everybody's life. But not with skybook. Skybook makes NOTAM handling really straight forward. For one thing, we can actually exclude NOTAMs. So there'll be places where every airline knows where I don't want to see those, NOTAMs. Pilots never want to see them. There could be things like grass cutting or kite flying, or it might be a particular state or country that send out a whole block of NOTAMs, which is just admin NOTAMs. The NOTAMs are still accessible within the ground portal. So if somebody's interested in looking at every NOTAM, you can still get them.
What if an airline needs to be able to demonstrate from a regulatory point of view, what they've excluded? Can we still show what's been removed for instance?
Absolutely. Well, there's two ways, obviously one is through this particular module, also within the paper PDF it show exclusions, and similarly within EFB as well.
The other thing we touched on, when we was looking at dispatch, we saw a NOTAM highlighting red because it was runway closed. So for every Qcode in the NOTAM you can set whether it's critical goes red, if it's warning goes amber, and if it's not in this list it won't colour code it. Probably even more powerful than that are the email rules. Most airlines monitor NOTAMs as they come in because they're looking for things like runway closed, thresholds being shortened and because they need to action those it was a real pain for people to do that on a shift pattern. With skybook you can set it up to watch for particular, NOTAMs coming in and it can be emailed to somebody. I saw one powerful example, within two minutes, we setup a NOTAM to come in via skybook, match a rule and go into a task system of theirs, for a dispatcher to pick up and do something with, it was that seamless. So what we can do then is look at, um, how that's reflected in skybook EFB itself.
Once the pilot's downloaded the briefing package into the EFB, there are multiple ways they can then visualize that. One is through the map, where you have the route of the flight, all the airfields along the route that skybook has picked out as being required for this particular flight. You can see if we hone in on, on these, a circle that shows two colour codes. The top circle is the weather status based on the minima that we've just seen being set. The bottom is the NOTAM call. I can click on that as pilot and go straight to the information that's under there. We can look at the, the weather data, METAR and the TAF, and we can look at the NOTAM data.
So I can filter out the white noise, so to speak and just focus on the critical.
Yeah. So I just clicked on critical and now we can see runway closed. And so that shows you how, those settings that we did on the ground portal are reflected in EFB software. The settings reflect into everybody's EFB, so everybody's using the same company standard. And there'll be none of the rubbish NOTAMs that the pilots want. So they've all been reduced down. That's a safety issue. They're not having to scroll through hundreds of NOTAMs.
So I guess the question is, all of this information, from a ground portal perspective, how do we make use of it for pilots? And how does it benefit them when it comes to getting that information out of the EFB app as well?
So here's a brief outline of how skybook deals with the data, what it delivers and what we can potentially give back to the airline as a benefit based on the pilot data coming back. Down the bottom of the EFB there are various major functions, we have briefing, plog, voyage, eventually e tech log, and document library. Plog and voyage are the main ones where the pilots interact now. It takes the place of the paper based OFP and the journey log. Currently in our departure module, one thing to remember is all our forms and modules are tailorable, we've configured them in multiple ways for different airlines that want to operate in different ways. Just to give you an idea, we have a fuel calculation and we're actually bringing the planned figure in from the OFP, so you can see one touch point now with the OFP.
The other major touch points are from the briefing that we've looked at previously where we're looking at the flight and the way points. Anywhere where you see, um, a red asterisk is mandatory. You can record baggage if you want to number of passengers, this is all pre departure. You can record things by scribbles, by typing, by taking camera images, all these kind of things that people wanna do to record data. You can do that within, within skybook. Pre-departure signatures, obviously one of the major functions before the pilot departs, you want them to sign off. Sign off on fuel, sign off on receipt of the OFP.
The en-route module takes the place of the traditional paper OFP, so where the pilot would be putting their actual figures in and monitoring the flight. Showing all of the way points along the route. So you get the highlights, things like the ETA, planned fuel board at point and, planned flight level. But you can expand this to see all the underlying things like MSA and wind speeds and things as well. It's quite easy for the pilot to interact. You've got the planned data and the actual data, and that gets sent to the ground portal.
Then the arrival. So arrival you can report, ATIS and clearance, as you'd expect. Things like landing pilot for statistical analysis as well. And again fully configurable, arrival fuel calculation of fuel used. All done automatically by skybook. Moving on to the main journey log of the voyage report. I've prepopulated some crew, so we could be taking that from the crew roster, or it could be manually entered by dispatchers, or it could be added in by the commander. So if there's a late change and you need to swap somebody in or out that can be done by the commander on the flight deck, similarly for ground services, you could record any kind of ground services that you use. You can even go far as down as putting suppliers in and working out whether they are meeting SLAs another great benefit of skybook. Deicing, all the things that you would expect to put in area of aircraft, fluid types, fluid mix are all in there, and hold over times.
One of the latest modules is our form builder module. This is an amazing module. It basically allows the airline to capture any form. So rather than just relying on the inbuilt forms on the ground, you can have an administrator create a form template and send that to the EFB, or indeed two somebody on the ground. If we click on forms, my forms, we can see a list of forms that are being configured by somebody on the ground. I'll click on air safety report, and you can see here the representation of an air safety report.
It literally is an easy tool. I mean, it's, it's drag and drop, you are effectively telling skybook, how many columns you want, what needs to go in those columns? Are you going to use the smart form aspect? Which means that a certain amount of the form will be pre-populated using information from the OFP, for instance, so hugely effective. But I think one of my favorite elements is for those regulatory airline forms, that there is no tolerance on, they have to look identical to the version that the regulator gives you. We can create those in an identical format that makes it easy for the pilots to fill in and keeps the regulators very happy.
The great thing about it is when you get this digital version of this safety report to the ground, it can then be distributed to whoever you want. You're not waiting for a paper form to come back and somebody photo copy, somebody put it into a system.
My challenge now is, we've given a far more concise, more time efficient and easier way of being able to log their actuals. How do we get all that data out of the EFB app and into skybook?
So when the crew have completed their flight, they effectively sign it off. Within the voyage report, you can say there's a signoff, that's the commander sign off the whole voyage, whether that's one sector or multiple sectors. That data is sent to the ground. So all of the actual data entered by the pilot, whether it's a picture taken by a camera, a scribbled signature, all downloaded and securely to the skybook record vault.
So the reason for record vault is that every airline needs to keep all of their flight data for at least 90 days. It's a statutory requirement. So skybook does that by default but actually you can keep it as long as you want. We have no set limit and what this record vault holds is a record of all the planned data that's been received. That's all the integration data we talked about right at the start. The schedule, the roster, the OFPs, load sheets, NOTOCs, absolutely everything. Weather data, NOTAM data charts. It also records all of the information returned from the crew. We've recorded all this information and any of this information can be supplied to other airline systems.
Effectively, if you think about where we started this session, we were talking about our ability to integrate information, to get it into skybook. In effect as operators looking to make the most of any system that they implement, we've got the ability to help them pre flight, during and post flights; to really drive those efficiencies and make data more accessible at a time where everyone's trying to do more for less.
Thank you for your time, please don't hesitate to email us. If you want to arrange more in depth overview with our team of experts get in touch.
By Dan Cook |
13 Jan 2022
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