Flying schools are a diverse group. There are no two that are completely alike. Their ways have evolved locally, their management team is lean, and often takes direction from a set of volunteer board members who come and go. That is a big challenge, and is one of the reasons that there is little off-the-shelf software available. It is very hard to determine what an ideal operational solution might be, and it’s almost impossible to imagine creating a standard that’s accepted enough that it would be worthwhile developing. Existing software tends to fit into two groups. One group comes as-is, it mostly works, but is inelegant and inflexible. It does what it does, but don’t try to adapt it or change it much. It’s likely to be the same in 5 years as it is now. The other group includes an increasing number of home-grown solutions that do something really well. Often these solutions have taken an existing process and put a computer to work on it. Like converting a manual dispatch sheet to an electronic dispatch sheet. Or a paper pilot training record to an on-line one. That’s fine, but it’s the same old process done well, with only a limited business impact.
SND Aviation has taken a clean sheet approach. The goal behind FleetCaptain is to draw a line around fleet operations and achieve a breakthrough in safety, productivity and efficiency. FleetCaptain is not a booking system. FleetCaptain is not a billing system. Nor is it a support for instructor operations, student logbook management etc. FleetCaptain aims at everything to do with getting planes off the ramp and into the air – aiming directly at the most effective means of increasing revenue and reducing cost.
SND Aviation believes it would be a mistake to build a system that tries to do everything. But at its interfaces, it should work well and fit well with existing billing systems, with booking systems etc. Product evolution plans focus on enriching FleetCaptain with ideas that come from the industry. Flight schools don’t serve FleetCaptain – FleetCaptain serves flight schools. If there is a better way to do something SND Aviation wants to hear it. Not every idea can be incorporated, but any business problem that can be solved with a computer instead of with manual exception handling is an opportunity for improvement.