Flying is expensive. Running a fleet of planes is expensive. Pilots are ambitious, but their activities are limited by the high cost of getting the licenses. For flying schools, there is little margin between the price that pilots can afford, and the cost of running the fleet and the school.
Flying schools are typically autonomous, small businesses. There is no legal department, IT department, marketing department etc. to call on. Maybe an x-flying instructor with a passion for the business running the show. Because of the size of schools there is no eco-system of vendors helping make things work. There is no established dispatch support system, customer relationship management systems etc. There are some just-good-enough reservation and finance systems that do an adequate job. Until you want the booking system to talk to the billing system. Or you want to make a big change to one of the systems. There is little opportunity for system tailoring or development. Neither outside vendors nor flying schools are willing to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars on sophisticated systems knowing how small and fragmented the market is.
FleetCaptain is a first step in bridging the gap between needs and available support – bringing big industry computing power to the small scale end of the general aviation business. It was built for flying schools, by people in the flying school business.
The Hard Part
FleetCaptain enables operational excellence. But it can’t deliver on this promise all alone. It needs help from a receptive organization – one that is willing to review its processes to find the best practices that fit the business goals.
What does that mean? First, while FleetCaptain can handle fleets of different types of aircraft and differences within the fleet, it works best when a fleet is comprised of groups of interchangeable aircraft. If you have several planes of a particular type, it’s best if any of those planes could normally satisfy a pilot’s mission. Modifying the fleet over time will help deliver more efficiencies.
So too will changing people processes. Customers, for example, will have to be guided through the concept of booking a plane by type, not a specific plane.
There is lots to discuss – making an operation more efficient means making many small changes. Each change may initially seem like a challenge, but if managed properly delivers rewards for everyone involved.