Jeppesen’s move into Dubai expands its specialist role

 - May 8, 2007, 12:31 PM

U.S. flight data specialist Jeppesen, represented here at EBACE 2007 by its German and UK offices (Booth No. 1105), is celebrating the centenary of its founder Capt. Elrey B. Jeppesen, as well as the company’s 30 years of providing its international trip-planning service (ITPS).

That ITPS business has its origins in Lockheed DataPlan, which was acquired by Jeppesen in 1989 and expanded to provide services in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and India. It provides staff and systems to work with business aircraft operators such as NetJets, Bombardier Flexjet and Club 328.

The company’s most recent initiative has been to obtain approval for a Middle East ITPS operations center in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The operation, scheduled to open by the end of June, aims to provide business aircraft operators access to local staff having intimate knowledge of the region and its aviation requirements.

According to Jeppesen business and general aviation senior vice president Kevin Collins, establishing a regional operation in Dubai will be a key strategic growth opportunity for the company. Combining its business with a local presence, staff facile in the language and convenient operating hours will allow Jeppesen to more effectively meet the needs of its local clients, he said. The office will work closely with Jeppesen’s London and Frankfurt operations and will employ sales and account management personnel.

Jeppesen’s involvement with UK executive charter company Club328 began last year with the integration of staff from both companies providing what it characterizes as “the ultimate in concierge service.” Using a model based on one introduced with NetJets and Flexjet, the ITPS permits the Southampton-based operator to streamline route and itinerary planning, landing and overflight permits, ground handling, fuel, computerized flight plans, weather and notams. Collins said that in those scenarios, Jeppesen found it is best to embed its staff and systems as close as possible to its customer operation.

New Terrain Database
The company is offering another new service, its terrain database, which is being incorporated into its electronic chart and flight-planning products and offered to avionics manufacturers to support synthetic-vision systems (SVS) and terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS). Such equipment helps to improve safety and situational awareness, the company said, but is dependent on the quality of the data driving them.

Accordingly, over the past three years Jeppesen has developed a higher resolution terrain dataset said to be more complete than any competing system. Collins claimed that only the company’s terrain database provides near photo-like quality and detail–three arc-second or 90-meter–for latitudes between 60-degrees North and 56-degrees South. Other areas are captured at a minimum of 30 arc-second detail, he explained.

Jeppesen has used radar-topography missions data from the U.S. Space Shuttle program as a foundation for the system, supplemented with other sources of information to fill data voids. The database uses a proprietary process to create minimum-altitude terrain buffers that offer pilots a finer, more-accurate picture of minimum safe altitudes than would be available by simply applying a blanket minimum safe altitude buffer of, say, 1,000 feet.

The company expects to work with avionics providers to introduce the greater database detail into SVS and TAWS equipment, which Collins claimed will translate directly into enhanced situational awareness for flight crews. TAWS equipment is required for most U.S. turbine-powered airplanes, while avionics specialists see a huge market for SVS.

Training Texts Go Soft
Jeppesen also has changed its market strategy for its pilot and maintenance-technician training products, moving from hard-copy textbooks to softer options accessible by alternative means, such as Web, CD or a mix of printed and electronic media. The company plans to focus on the use of new instruction methods, such as objective-based learning and pre-tests to identify which subjects need additional study. It said the increased flexibility provided through computer-based training permits entire systems to be customized and kept more current.

The first example of the new approach is a flight-crew training system designed as a follow-on to Jeppesen’s FliteCrew software launched five years ago. This new system is aimed at business aircraft operators requiring flexible Web-based recurrent training. Such a system allows pilots to receive recurrent training during regular downtime through any Internet-connected computer. They can study or complete coursework and tests without the need for traditional classroom-based training.

Training costs would be reduced, according to the company, since crews would spend fewer days in training. The software is composed of seven training modules containing 24 lessons on more than 60 topics. The company’s new Web-based learning management system is said to offer an easy-to-use training environment and a central location to manage and store training records.

Jeppesen is now a subsidiary of Boeing Commercial Aviation Services and its business aviation services include flight and itinerary planning, obtaining permits, arranging ground handling, fuel services and on-site weather forecasting.