Fresno, Calif.-based charter operator Scott Aviation, doing business as Silver Air, has adopted the FlightPro 135 web-based electronic record-keeping system to help manage its regulatory compliance needs. FlightPro 135 was developed by Flight Compliance Services of Santa Barbara, Calif.
The company’s founder, Kristian Harcourt, met Silver Air CEO Jason Middleton at a party and the two got to discussing the difficulty Middleton had finding software to help keep his Part 135 charter operation in compliance with all the applicable regulations. “Jason was talking about his needs as an operator,” said Harcourt. “Compliance is a major pain, and that’s how this system was born.”
“When I started the company in 2008, I was so frustrated with how we were doing things when it came to FAA compliance,” Middleton said. There were too many manuals, folders, files and binders, he added. “It was so overwhelming, just the volume of paperwork. There’s got to be a better way of doing this.”
According to Middleton, no other software packages could do what he was seeking for his charter operation, although there are plenty of competing products. Silver Air does use ArincDirect’s Flight Operations System (FOS) software for charter quoting and interacting with clients, but Middleton said that FOS doesn’t handle the compliance side of the operation.
Unlike other charter/management companies, Silver Air provides only charter and management. It does not offer any ancillary services “I call us a pure management company,” he explained. Silver Air doesn’t own any hangars or offer fuel or maintenance. When he worked for other charter providers, Middleton felt that one-stop shops didn’t offer maximum value for aircraft owners because they also operate multiple profit centers that aren’t always aligned with the customers’ best interests. “It’s the fox guarding the henhouse,” he said. “Owners should have somebody on their side, to be an advocate for them. That’s the basis of how we manage. We partner with owners and want really good aircraft so we can charter them. That’s our revenue model.”
For that kind of business, the software needs are a little simpler than for a larger company that provides many other services, and the focus is primarily on FAA compliance and not the running of the business. “FlightPro 135 is our electronic record-keeping system,” Middleton said. What he also likes about the software, which stores data online (in the cloud) is that it also provides easy access to compliance information for Silver Air’s FAA inspectors. “It’s called continuous monitoring rather than base inspection.” He said the FAA can log into FlightPro 135 and inspect the company’s documents. “It has made us very organized,” he added.
“Currently safety audits are done every two years,” said Harcourt. “We do it every two seconds. What auditors are checking is the same stuff we manage from an FAA compliance perspective. We’re doing it real-time.”
New Functionality in Version 2.0
FlightPro 135 started as a compliance system, keeping track of pilot, aircraft and company requirements, but Flight Compliance Services is preparing to add new functionality in the next version, Harcourt said. Version 2.0 will eliminate paperwork in the cockpit and flight operation, he explained.
The new features will allow pilots to complete flight logs on an iPad app. At the end of the flight, pilots will touch a “sync” button, and the information will automatically upload and fill in flight and duty time records, avoiding a lot of paperwork duplication.
Another new feature is scheduling a trip after the trip is quoted and accepted. The scheduling module will make sure all the compliance requirements are met then notify the director of operations, who can release the flight and notify the crew, who can then accept the flight. The system will also pull together all required documents for the flight and automatically load them on the crews’ iPads.
The other key new feature is discrepancy reporting and management. Pilots will be able to click a discrepancy button on the iPad and find out whether the item is covered by the minimum equipment list. The discrepancy information is automatically sent to the maintenance department to speed resolution of the problem.
Flight Compliance Services had 23 charter operators with 100 aircraft using FlightPro 135 as of mid-August. FlightPro 135 costs $100 per aircraft for the first four aircraft, and additional ones are $50 each. The price will not change with the new version, according to Harcourt. “We want to be the total solution provider for flight operations for Part 135,” he said. “That’s the market that we saw was being severely under-serviced. A sad observation I’ve seen in my years with this company is how many different applications these operators have to use; quoting, scheduling, maintenance and countless other pieces that do specific functions. For every flight there are various needs. Clearly the market wants an all-in-one solution.”