Aviation maintenance tracking software specialist Traxxall (Booth B1029), which has seen a significant jump in its helicopter business with operators now in 33 countries, has been preparing for this growth with expanded teams that are dedicated to the helicopter space, said president Mark Steinbeck. The company, which provides customizable, cloud-based maintenances tracking tools for both fixed-wing and rotorcraft operators, saw its business increase by 62 percent overall and about as much in its helicopter business specifically. “We had growth in our plans, but not the growth we’ve had. We have been growing like crazy,” Steinbeck said of the company that was founded in 2013.
Traxxall recently opened a new office in Denver, Colorado, which joins its headquarters facility in Montreal, Canada, and offices in Jacksonville, Florida, and London. The firm now has 85 employees, including 11 hired so far this year primarily in customer support roles. Steinbeck told AIN he expects that to increase to 95 this year with the rotorcraft segment accounting for more than half of new hires.
This boost comes as Traxxall last year divided its operations personnel, creating teams that specialize in the rotorcraft market. The company had always catered to the helicopter segment, Steinbeck said, but the transition marked the creation of teams with focused expertise.
“We’ve had growth with both [fixed-wing and helicopter] teams, but since the second quarter of last year, we’ve grown the [helicopter] teams by about 80 percent,” he said adding,” We’re seeing a lot of demand from the helicopter market.”
Historically the helicopter market has been reluctant to use services such as what Traxxall offered, he noted. “It's not really something [helicopter operators] used; they’ve typically tracked maintenance with their own spreadsheets because the cost was free.” But operations are becoming more sophisticated and the demands on operations are requiring the use of more sophisticated tools. “You can do that with a spreadsheet, but it is tougher,” he said.
This change, along with increased digitization of maintenance shops, has provided a boost in Traxxall’s business, Steinbeck said. And that business has further benefited from word-of-mouth. “We’ve found our customers, especially on the helicopter side, have been our best salespeople.” Likewise, the maintenance centers have provided a boost because it has enabled them to better plan.
The Traxxall helicopter maintenance tracking tools are designed to maximize aircraft availability. “It can keep airplanes flying more,” he said, because it enables better planning, including for scheduling maintenance and for parts lead-time.
In addition, the program enables complete accuracy of component tracking, Steinbeck said, noting that some manufacturers have complicated formulas involving varying factors for determining the time of replacement. This introduces a level of guesswork based on flying hours when operators' own spreadsheets are used and components can get retired earlier than necessary based on conservative estimates, he said. With Traxxall’s program, Steinbeck added, “You are tracking them 100 percent accurately. It reduces maintenance costs because you are actually getting the maximum life out of your components.”
The goal is to provide as much data to the operator as possible to enable planning, reduce downtime, and ward off future potential problems. Key to the operators, particularly smaller operators, is the ability to tie the program into their calendars so they see and can get notifications when maintenance comes due without having to log in to the program.
This has been particularly attractive for the smaller operators. While Traxxall has seen its business expand across all sizes of operators, the smaller operators now account for 25 percent of its helicopter business.
Steinbeck credits an arrangement announced last year with Airbus Helicopters enabling data exchange for helping bring in that smaller business. “That business is going very well.”