After leaving ProFlight, the business aviation training company where he ran business development and helped sell to Tru Simulation + Training in 2014, Stuart Illian researched potential startups and found an untapped opportunity in digital records for business aircraft. Illian partnered with Roberto Guerrieri, a friend from when they both worked for Apple, and the result was a new company called Bluetail, which officially launched today.
Digitizing aircraft records is nothing new, but Bluetail is aiming at much more than simply making copies of aircraft logbooks. As the duo began to work more than a year ago on creating Bluetail, said Illian, “We saw potential beyond the basic-use cases. We started with a smaller idea but the more we got into this, now that we have a few customers and talking to partners, we see a larger potential with tools like document scanning and retrieval, organization, and compliance.”
Bluetail is designed to be a “next-generation, back-to-birth, digitized aircraft records management system,” according to the company, with a key goal of preservation of the value of the aircraft. Added Illian, “Our customer research is telling us that owners and operators want to now, more than ever, accelerate the move away from paper. They need a digital hub to safely keep, organize, and share aircraft logbooks, supporting records, manuals, and much more.”
Guerrieri spent years in the health records business and when he and Illian started working together, he saw similar trends in business aviation, with records moving from paper to digital formats. “Our vision is taking static, dormant data from paper to digital to make the records actionable for compliance and curation.”
Customers can search across documents from any browser software or device. But Bluetail has created additional functionality. One example is a timeline view of the lifetime of the aircraft. This shows, from as far back as the records go, every event that has occurred, from airworthiness directive and service bulletin compliance to inspections and repairs, upgrades, and engine changes, among others.
Bluetail will add further improvements, including using artificial intelligence “to make documents visual and actionable,” Guerrieri said. The company also plans integration with other companies’ software, including maintenance-tracking and other data-centric products centered around aircraft operations and maintenance. “We’re interested in partnering with people, but we’re not going to compete with [software] creators. We want to curate data, make it come alive, and make it more actionable.”
Fundamentally, Bluetail will start by helping operators digitize their paper records, but then add features and functionality. “We did a mass survey [of potential customers],” Illian said, “and asked them where their pain points were. A lot went back to a simple thing: ‘My records are a mess.’” This was surprisingly true for some fleet operators, he added. “Even though the problem is simple, this is a play in the curation side, but we will integrate with lots of apps in the future. One company wants to pull in their training records and operational data from their dispatch system.”
“We should be able to connect with operations software and show on an automated timeline all the flights and match that with maintenance and see how the two coincide,” said Guerrieri.
Each airplane in Bluetail has its own dashboard, which summarizes all that airplane’s information. A “Ramp Check” button is a central location for all the documents that must be kept current and onboard the aircraft, such as the flight manual, checklists, insurance forms, company manuals, and so on. Bluetail automatically pulls in information related to the airplane—for example, airworthiness directives and other information from FAA databases. Although information can be stored in user-created folders, all information is identified by tagging and keywords so it is easy to find. Customers can also store images such as photos or borescope inspection videos.
Customers can use e-signatures to sign documents. For situations where third-parties need to see logbook information, Bluetail allows for private sharing, with all shared documents watermarked and with settable expiration dates, if needed.
Bluetail is subscription-based, with annual fees for each aircraft, that includes scanning up to 5,000 pages to get the aircraft set up. The scanning process is compliant with SOC 2 quality control and security standards.
Bluetail aims to offer its services for much less than competitors in the digitization space. “If we can do 80 percent of what they do at 10 to 20 percent of the cost, we’ve got something,” said Illian. “All indications are we’re on the right track.”