NBAA Convention News

Polaris Aero Makes Flight Planning Easier and Flying Safer

 - November 18, 2015, 8:55 PM

Polaris Aero (Booth C11035) offers two Web-based safety products for aviation: FlightRisk, a risk-assessment tool primarily for pilots and flight dispatchers, and Vector SMS, a safety and quality management system, to help users achieve the highest level of safety and improve the effectiveness of their organizations. The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company was founded in 2007 by two former U. S. Air Force pilots.

From their experience as military and civil pilots, Chris Conner, Polaris Aero CEO, and Trent Fox, COO, found that the flight-risk assessment tools they had used (risk matrices and hazard scoring systems) relied heavily on pilots’ perceptions of risk and provided only a numerical value to indicate how risky a flight might be, but gave little help in identifying how the actual risks could be mitigated or avoided.

Furthermore, because perceptions are shaped byexperience, a lack ofrelevantexperience can result in a misperception of risk. A key element of this dilemma, they reasoned, was the massive amount of information that pilots need to know or are supposed to check by regulation, but have no way of easily finding and systematically accessing

What Conner and Fox created is FlightRisk, a software solution they introduced in 2009 that solves the problem of “information overload” by consolidating and analyzing thousands of pieces of data to find the information that is most applicable to a pilot for a particular flight. It sounds almost too good to be true, but with some 28,000 users running actual flight planning scenarios at an average of 1,500 times a day and aircraft owners paying $99 per aircraft per month to use FlightRisk (with discounts for larger flight operations), it would appear that the two Academy grads are on the right track.

“Our mission is to make flying safer,” Conner said. “We turn all of the various aviation policies, publications and standards into real-time, actionable intelligence so that our customers can make smarter decisions. In short, we provide the right information to the right people at the right time.”

FlightRisk also gives pilots the opportunity to share their knowledge about hazards with other pilots, sort of like users of Yelp share knowledge of local businesses with other Yelp users. Users’ brief, anonymous surveys on FlightRisk are much more effective than simply reviewing incident and accident reports, Fox explained. “By learning from other pilots’ operational experiences, FlightRisk users can learn valuable lessonsbeforean accident occurs,” he said.

Soon after the launch of FlightRisk, Conner and Fox realized that their customers needed more than an advanced flight risk assessment system for pilots; customers also need a comprehensive Safety Management System solution for theirentireorganization, including maintenance, cargo loading, dispatchers and so on.

So in 2012, Polaris Aero launched Vector SMS to help users address compliance with the global standards of ICAO, FAA, Transport Canada, IS-BAO and other groups. The company now has 27 Vector users, who pay $5,000 per year for the standard version or $10,000 for the enhanced version.