Bringing Aircraft Records into the Digital Age
Aircraft records are essential, highly regulated technical records that require detailed documentation and careful oversight. They include complete and compact service record sets with required maintenance and modification events properly identified for the airframe, engines, APU, propellers, etc. Every assessment of the aircraft’s condition, quality, and level of airworthiness are included in these records which follow that aircraft from birth to retirement.
So why — given the extraordinary importance of aircraft records and today’s modern digital age where anything and everything else has moved to the cloud — are the majority of aircraft records still maintained on paper? Well, in a word, inertia. While the business risks to doing nothing are well documented, the switching costs to digitizing seem quite high and difficult to tackle. Here are just a few of the sticking points when contemplating digitizing aircraft records:
Who should scan the aircraft records?
Once convinced of the need to digitize aircraft records, one of the first challenges is figuring out who will do it. Although it may be appealing to take this on as a DIY project, many documents are lengthy or over-sized so that even the most determined archivist can’t handle those themselves. Taking pictures with an iPhone or scanning pages one at a time on the office printer is time intensive and not going to cut it – especially as the number of aircraft records being digitized adds up. Oftentimes, specialized hardware is needed for large format scanning and book scanning.
However, for many the thought of boxing up aircraft records and sending them offsite to a professional scanner seems too risky. In fact, lost aircraft records can diminish the value of an aircraft by 20-40%! A good compromise is selecting a trusted partner who can come onsite to scan some or all of the most important records. This saves the time of boxing and transporting, or scanning, and ensures that scanned documents are saved in the correct order and with the necessary resolution to be easily searched and managed.
When is the right time to digitize?
The truth is that there’s never going to be a good time to scan every aircraft record. The best approach is to think strategically about the risk and reward of keeping everything on paper versus digitizing and securely storing in the cloud. When weighing the downtime to digitize now versus the impact of misplaced, lost or destroyed paper records, the choice becomes clearer. By being proactive, the scheduling and staging of a digital migration is easily accommodated without operational disruption. While the updating of maintenance documents may be limited while records are being scanned, aircraft do not have to be grounded during this process.
How does anyone find a specific record in the cloud?
One of the most common questions is how to find records once they are digitized. To ensure quick and easy searching of records, it’s important to properly index scanned documents. With robust indexing, records are located simply by searching on a keyword or serial number! Like scanning, the process of indexing is not a simple task as it requires manual data entry and the use of barcode sheets. Although advanced data capture software is available for indexing, outsourcing this complex task to a trusted third party is the best route to ensure records are easily searchable.
What’s the first step to digitizing?
After making the decision to digitize aircraft records, tackling these obstacles can seem overwhelming. To get started, find an experienced company with a track record of successful digitization projects. Look for expertise not only in scanning and indexing but also in scaling to fit the changing needs of aircraft owners and operators.
At Bluetail, we’ve helped many operations just like yours move away from paper records to a digitized, secure, searchable and scalable platform. We offer onsite and secure local professional scanning, along with consultative training to ensure quick onboarding so you can stop worrying about your aircraft records and focus on running your business.
Ready to take the first step to digitizing aircraft records? Chat with an expert.
Rather hear from a few customers who have successfully digitized? Read our customers’ stories.
Bluetail, Inc. (www.bluetail.aero) Bluetail is a modern, visual aircraft records SaaS platform, built specifically for business and general aviation aircraft owners and operators. Through its powerful platform that allows owners to store, search and share data, Bluetail helps owners, their staff and partners to maintain any and all aircraft records and logbooks in one secure, collaborative platform. The solution helps aircraft owners, operators and flight departments to easily build and categorize logbooks, timelines, manuals, maintenance documents, and even privately share records.