Web site streamlines flight operations

 - October 1, 2008, 9:11 AM

When it comes to flight scheduling and management, using spreadsheets and marker boards to chart flights might soon be a thing of the past, according to the president and creator of FlightOps1.com, a Web site that features tools for corporate flight departments and air charter companies. Corporate pilot Terry Cooper, the founder of online charter broker CharterMatrix, created the site to provide the aviation industry with what he describes as its first fully Web-based scheduling, quoting and management system.

“There are so many corporate flight departments out there that use an Excel spreadsheet or a greaseboard because they can’t afford the big software,” said Cooper.

The subscription-based Web site features flight-planning tools that are available to staff with user-designated security clearance. “Imagine a flight department has two aircraft and five pilots along with a scheduling person and a mechanic. This allows all of them to log in and communicate; see the flight schedule; see which pilots are assigned to what flight; print out trip sheets for the flight; know all the details about the flight, such as who the passengers are, their catering requests, what the hotels are, what the flight time is with wind, what FBO they are going to use; and it allows them all to communicate on the same level without having to make phone calls or [send] e-mails,” said Cooper.

The system also allows users to e-mail charter quotes at the click of a button. A newly added function of the site allows flight directors to send messages directly to the cockpits of their aircraft, either displayed on the FMS or to the cockpit or cabin fax machines. Customers are then billed directly by Satcom Direct.

While most other software is charged per user, Cooper chose a different pay scale for his site. “We wanted our system to be fair, to be priced so that anybody can use it, and $25 per month, per aircraft is a reasonable price,” he said. “We did that because there are so many flight departments that fly one airplane…and there are a lot of companies out there getting small jets or one Citation.”

The system became fully functional in January, and FlightOps1 already lists more than 160 clients who could benefit from another system feature. The FlightOps1 software can detect empty legs based on user input as a trip is entered on the calendar. Since the site is linked to Cooper’s CharterMatrix site, it will automatically and in real time export those legs to the charter site in an effort to book them. The fee any charter company realizes from selling just one empty leg “is going to more than pay for all the software, so it’s an easy sell there,” said Cooper. The site will also allow charter empty-leg exporting directly to NBAA’s Air Mail air charter availability board.