“If time travel is possible, where are the tourists from the future?” -Stephen Hawking

To a DOM, it’s all about time.

Suppose you remove the “Because I can and you can’t” option from the list of reasons why the vast majority of successful companies and individuals operate private aircraft. In that case, it’s a safe bet that the number one reason by a landslide would be to save time.

Really. Have you suffered through a trip on a commercial carrier recently? What’s the old saying, “If you have time to spare, go by (commercial) air.”

Convenience and efficiency are why business aircraft usage has reached historic levels in our post-pandemic world. As Dough Gollan wrote in a story that ran in the May edition of Forbes online, “While Argus TraqPak data shows North American private flights in 2023 were down 3.7% from the 2022 peak, last year still ranked as the industry’s second busiest year and was 17.5% ahead of 2019’s pre-Covid numbers.”

If that weren’t enough proof of private aviation’s current and seemingly increasing popularity, Gollan went on to write, “WingX, which tracks flight hours across the different aviation segments, including airlines and cargo, recently noted that NetJets’ flying last month (April 2024), was 50.3% ahead of where it was pre-pandemic 2019.”

A DOM’s work is never done.

Yes, these are heady days for private and business aviation. But the dark cloud to our industry’s silver lining is the significantly increasing strain all these added flight hours are putting on the people responsible for delivering the world’s safest and most efficient mode of transportation.

Sure, pilots are at the forefront of it all but think for a minute about the physical and psychological tool all of this is taking on the DOMs and maintainers. Their daily challenges don’t get the press, but industry insiders know that they’re under greater pressure to beat the clock than pilots.

Think about it: If the jet comes back from a trip at 2:00 am, the crew’s pretty much done for their day. But, no matter rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night, the maintainers are responsible for getting their charge ready for the next day’s flight. And heaven forbid there’s a mechanical squawk to fix before that departure. Those are long and stressful days with no leeway for wasted time.

If that weren’t enough, now imagine the added stress of dealing with your airplane when it’s AOG somewhere far from home. 24/7/365, a DOM is responsible for solving all sorts of issues no matter where or when in the world the airplane is.

Oh, but with all that being said, overseeing the airplane’s maintenance is just part of the DOM’s job description today. They still have to ride herd on the rest of the technical team – hiring, firing, coordinating vacation and training schedules, performance evaluations, and more.

Talk to any DOM, and they’ll tell you that dealing with the people on their teams – as much as they value each of them – is often the hardest and most energy-consuming part of their jobs. Airplanes are much easier to deal with than people.

 On top of all that, when you’re talking about a DOM managing their crews, keep in mind that the typical flight department and MRO are currently understaffed. So, they’re doing all they need to do on a daily basis with fewer people.

Everyone is pushed to their limits to get it all done safely and on time. That’s why efficient time management is more important to a DOM today than ever.

Go digital and do more with less.

A story in Forbes on the digitization of businesses stated that 56% of Fortune 500 CEOs said that “digital improvements” have led to revenue growth in their companies.

But that’s not all. Respondents also said that the other top benefits of digital transformation are improved operational efficiency (40%) and the ability to better meet customer expectations (35%). These two areas are becoming increasingly important in helping aircraft operators, and maintainers stay on top of all they have to do every day. 

Of course, there’s a laundry list of reasons why flight departments of all sizes are transitioning to digital records technologies. From flight planning to crew scheduling to optimizing maintenance tasking to, well, whatever, the ability for digital technologies to shorten the times needed to complete a task adds up to considerable time savings.

Take the transition from paper maintenance and operational logbooks to Bluetail’s cloud-based digital services, for example. Research shows that the typical A&P spends over an hour manually searching through volumes of records and logs before they even start on a particular inspection or maintenance task. 

That means if there are five items on a task card, they may spend an entire workday just searching through logbooks for the necessary information. Even if it’s part of the job, few flight departments can afford for their valued maintainers to be off the floor for that long a time. 

When your documentation is digitized, instead of a DOM or technician having to spend hours searching through files and boxes looking for logbooks to confirm the information on a ticket, they can accomplish it all in minutes. That kind of efficiency can add “person-days” to an operation’s efficiency.

As an added time-saver, Bluetail’s digitized files are searchable and sharable with popular maintenance tracking/management programs, including Veryon and Traxxall. The ability to integrate an aircraft’s back-to-birth records not only streamlines maintenance planning but can help improve task planning to optimize aircraft downtime.

Put them all together, and those kinds of efficiencies and time savings can even allow a hard-working DOM to go home at night. It’s a huge step forward in achieving a better work/life balance.

NBAA New Guidelines on Electronic Recordkeeping