skybook Software Demo and Overview Webinar with Aircraft IT
By Shane Spencer | 7th April 2017
As part of Bytron’s membership with Aircraft IT we produced a webinar during March to demonstrate the capabilities of our skybook system. Skybook is our flagship software solution for a fully integrated complete flight dispatch, briefing and journey logging process.
Aircraft IT Operations is an invaluable resource where IT users and decision makers in airlines and aircraft operators around the world can review all major systems available, learn from user’s experience and consider how these systems may perform in their business. Providing the aircraft operations community with high quality information on sourcing the correct IT systems for your business critical requirements.
The following sections give you a brief overview of the information we have covered in the webinar. However, the full webinar is available to view on the Aircraft IT website.
Bytron was formed in 1984 and specialised in the development of aviation software. This passion has stayed with us over the years as we have seen the advances in technology and the aviation industry, in turn growing our knowledge and software offering.
Running through the system from a crew members point of view the webinar starts to look at the App which is part of the skybook product and allows access to digital flight briefing and journey logs on any internet enabled device.
The Digital Briefing allows you to quickly and easily see briefing data relevant to the voyage being flown and automatically alerting crew of additional information. The Journey Log allows the recording of information that took place during the voyage so flight crew and operations, can see planned flight data against the actual data.
Our Sales Director walks you through the process of using the Companion App from first logging in and selecting a flight to signing off the flight information and informing the ops team. Here is an overview of these steps:
- When first logging onto the Companion App you can create a new voyage and download the data to the device. The first action will to accept the flight plan. Once viewed and accepted an acknowledgment is recorded on the system so flight ops team are aware.
- The Digital Briefing module then becomes available providing the essential flight pack data.
- Within this digital briefing module and then the airfields section you have a user friendly display that is easy to navigate for key information. On the list of airfields is a colour coding system to quickly identify the type of airfield such as departure, destination, alternates and en-route airfields. In a similar format to this we have circle colour coding for weather warnings at the top half and the bottom half highlighting information on NOTAM. This enables you to prioritise which airfield to look at based on the colour warning making briefings more intuitive.
- Once clicking into an airfield you have a tabbed system which gives you a summary of the airfields METAR, TAF, NOTAM and SNOWTAM information. Having this in a tabbed format allows you to easy move between different pieces of information available.
- METAR and TAF data are presented in both raw text and decoded format with a visual representation of warning and alerts. This is based on the weather codes and minima criteria configured in your settings area. In a similar format the NOTAMs will highlight information based on Qcodes
- The bookmarking facility allows you to bookmark certain information throughout the application so you can easily refer back to critical information as you navigate around the App.
- The charts available show significant weather, upper wind and temperature charts that have pinch and zoom facility.
- Providing both standard and ETOPS route plots which are printable in a number of different formats.
- Library modules holds 3 types of of documents – crew notices, sector attachments and free text messages. These are created in the ground portal and sent to the App. Notices can also be set allowing you send internal messages targeted by type, category, airfield, FIR, job role, fleet, city pair, Dep, Dest and much more.
- Crew can be added manually or automatically integrated through 3rd Party Crew Rostering Systems.
- Multiple forms for recording journey log information such as; de-icing, delays, ground services, iPLOG and commanders report. The webinar shows you through these forms and the information it holds.
- The voyage can then be signed off. This information is recorded in the record vault history for future reference and sent back to the ops team.
Flight Operations Portal
The next section of the webinar looked at skybook from the ground operations teams’ point of view for the flight dispatch and briefing process. The Flight Operations Portal can be used without the App and is a simple first stage transition from manual paper based process to digitally managing flight dispatch and briefing activity. We covered the following modules as an overview.
The flight dispatch module displays the list of flights within skybook, based on the plans received, and allows your ground operations team to review information for each flight.
When first accessing the flight dispatch module you will see all of the flight plans in a table format that have come from your planning system which we we can integrate with to capture this data. The flight plans are parsed in text, pdf or XML format and received via the skybook web services, email or SFTP. However, an OFP can be uploaded manually where required.
The dispatch monitor shows the list of flights giving key information such as; flight number, plan number, departure and destination airfields, schedule time of departure and arrival, slot times, alternates and status. Supplementary information can be configured into this table as you require.
Moving onto sector briefing looking at what a flight crew member has to do to login, find their flight and retrieve their flight briefing package.
The flight briefing package consists of the following:
- MET, TAF, SNOWTAM, Significant Weather and Lower/Upper wind charts (data feeds from UK Met Office and NOAA)
- Airfield/FIR NOTAMs (data feed from EuroControl)
- Flight Plan – We provide integration with all major flight planning vendors.
- Operational Notices – providing built in operational notices module within skybook or alternatively we can capture this information from an external source to be brought into your briefing pack.
- Route Plot, ETOPS or EROPS Charts – this information is automatically created upon receiving a valid OFP.
Once a flight plan has been received by skybook based on your highly configurable operator settings the system will automatically collate all of the necessary information required based on the track distance and filters that have been applied providing an easy data package that is relevant for the intended flight.
The briefing pack can then be directly viewed within the system, printed, exported as PDF or sent via email, providing additional flexibility for viewing the briefing pack.
Airfield Watcher is a module built within skybook but can also be utilised as a standalone product. The module gives you a visual representation of the weather and NOTAM at the airfields vital to your operations. Minima settings can be applied to this module around your requirements in the settings area of the portal. The information on this screen is updated every 60 seconds to give you the most accurate and up to date information available.
The visual dashboard screen of Airfield Watcher shows the current active airfields available but you can also tailor groupings of airfields. This is useful for planning giving you full situational awarness for airfields of interest.
The Airfields Watcher help section shows symbols used, what they represent and colour indication. This enables you to easily spot trends on improvement or decrease in weather. The bar at the top shows significant weather alerts and at the bottom NOTAM alerts based on the NOTAM Qcode.
The Planning Portal allows dispatch and crew users to search for airfields and FIR’s of interest. To interrogate MET, TAF and trend data over time and visibility of charts is useful for daily checks on groups of airfields. The Planning Portal is accessible for all users and allows you to look for information on any airfield.
skybook has been designed to be easy to use and ensures the right data is delivered to the right place at the right time. This improves efficiency, saves time and cost.
Here is a small range of questions and answer from the webinar, to view this section in full please sign up to the webinar as we did manage to answer 43 questions in total, so plenty of further information for you!
Where does your data come from?
Weather data comes from the UK Met Office / Washington & NOAA. We pole this every 5 minutes. Predominantly we feed from the UK Met Office but we have a back up feed from NOAA.
For NOTAM we have a dedicated VPN for Eurocontrol EAD which provides a constant feed of NOTAM. These are then screened by our own processes and if there are any issues with NOTAM it goes to our internal A.I.S. team, who manually check and either correct and/or report back to Eurocontrol. In the event of any failure on the VPN, NOTAM are queued at Eurocontrol and recovered once live, so you can have confidence that we will never miss a NOTAM.
Because we have provided state authorities with NOTAM management systems, we know NOTAM inside out and have the expertise to work with you to provide the optimum level of filtering and NOTAM management.
Which Flight Planning systems does skybook integrate with?
So long as you can provide the OFP in XML, txt or PDF we can ingest the OFP from your fuel and navigation provider. We have worked with all of the major vendors in the past Such as Jeppesen, Sabre and NavTech. Flight plans can be sent by email, ftp, webservices or manual upload.
How do you filter Airfield and FIR NOTAM?
NOTAM filtering in skybook is very comprehensive and is based on a number of filter criteria against, QCode, Route/Swath Width, Height filters within the FIR (i.e. Flight Level), 60nm around Dep and Dest, Miscellaneous NOTAM can be filtered out, PERM and EST NOTAM can be filtered out x number of days after their start date, IFR / VFR filters, All FIR NOTAM can be excluded, Particular FIR or Airfield NOTAM can be excluded.
Can we use skybook to communicate with the crew outside of the briefing packs?
Yes. There are several ways to achieve this with skybook including notices, free text messages which can be pushed to and from the tablet app and also using SMS text message alerts.
Can we send you data from a third party vendor and have it integrated in to a skybook flight record?
Yes, given a suitable interface such as webservices, ftp etc and a well formed data set.
I saw that skybook colour codes airfields based on the weather situation but how does this work?
Skybook allows you to set airfield specific minima or categorise them as A, B or C airfields and a general set of minima that are applied to airfield weather in that order. It checks cloud ceiling (Broken/Overcast), RVR, Visibility and Wind.
If your alternates in your OFP’s aren’t defined as CAT A, B or C then they still appear in briefings and have the general minima applied to them.
Explain how you automate ETOPS chart production?
We parse all the route details, Equal time points (ETPs – arrows) and ETOPS alternates from the OFP. We also expect to find the ETOPS rules time in the OFP, such as 180 minutes. We then use these details to produce the ETOPS range rings and ETP arrows. We also draw 60 minute circles around the departure and destination aerodromes and any alternates.
How long does it take to implement?
Essentially there are 3 bandings of complexity that will determine the lead time, for a straight forward set up where by we are processing your OFP’s it can be set up within 2 weeks.
If we are integrating with other systems such as crew rostering, then a typically turn around is about 2 months.
For advanced set ups involving customisations and bespoke developments a tailored project plan would be created to determine timescales.
Is there a minimum requirement for this system?
A: For the system to work as a minimum skybook will need to process your OFP. In terms of technology the ground portal is accessed by a web browser, and the app can be installed on iOS. In terms of number of aircraft, there is no minimum as skybook is fully scalable and we are interested in long term partnerships, if we can support your airline to grow, then your subscription would grow proportionately and we can all benefit.
Can the data sent to ground tool be used to generate reports for trend analysis or compliances?
Yes, we store all data sent from the device into our flight record vault which can then be used to generate reports and trends. We are happy to work with clients to develop any customer reports that may be of use to your operations. skybook also has an API so the data can be exported to use for your own reporting systems.
If you are interested in viewing the webinar in full, click here to visit the Aircraft IT website and sign up for the webinar. However, if you would like full details and an extended demonstration on the system, targeted to your requirements, please complete the below form and we can schedule this in with a member of our team.