With historically tight defence budgets and a correspondingly relentless drive for efficiencies, there is a growing need to leverage technology to better understand pinch points, improve processes and reduce wastage and error. In an effort to optimise limited resources for front line operations and improve efficacy, it has become common practice for industry under contract to supplement military operations in support roles and is a practice that is now considered a constituent part of a ‘whole force’ contribution to defence.
This practice is particularly noticeable in the field of training, where government overheads have been significantly reduced over the past 2 decades, often by contracting out to commercial training service providers. In all such circumstances, the need to measure the efficacy of contracts through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) has become commonplace, and the push for data-derived evidence to support organisational, operational, and financial decisions have, together, driven up the demand for more technological and even automated reporting methods.
Military aviation operations, whether supported by commercial contract or not, are particularly dependent on detailed and accurate data and reporting on which the safe operation of high value equipment and highly trained individuals relies. Air domain operations are heavily regulated, where air safety and risk management are paramount, and the complexity of planning and scheduling flight operations and flight training is exacerbated by a plethora of mandated and often interdependent currency and qualification requirements. Again, it is easy to see how the use of software-driven operations and training management systems has increased as the complexity of operations and demand for efficiency and improved safety have all risen.
What is a flight operations and training management system?
At its core, a flight operations and training management system is an electronic flight operations scheduling tool that optimises the availability of assets and resources, from aircraft to simulators, classrooms, instructors, and students.
Crucially, such a system should also include a currency and qualification management suite, essential for flight safety, and a deconfliction tool to ensure effective scheduling. An integrated training management suite would encompass the ability to design, plan and execute a range of course syllabi and include an on-line instructor-student reporting system. The rich seam of data produced by an operations and training management system provides significantly improved situational awareness, which affords users and commanders alike to monitor, report and gain efficiencies of operation. When employed at an enterprise level, such a system can gain even greater effectiveness providing a single source of data truth, from recruitment to retirement.
What are the benefits of a flight operations and training management system?
Improved situational awareness.
Aggregation of asset availability and individual skills data provides full oversight of Unit or Force combined readiness and capability. Users and schedulers can manage events, currencies, qualifications, and obligations. Commanders and other senior management can use the same data elements for timely and accurate reporting.
Reduced scheduling effort.
Tasking and optimisation of people and assets using templated linked electronic ‘whiteboards’, with drag & drop capability and conflict alerts. All activities, from sorties and simulators to classroom usage and duty personnel are displayed and updated in real time.
Currency and qualification management.
Skills data is integrated directly into the planning and scheduling process, linked to alert mechanisms to warn against mismatching individuals to events. Post-event reporting updates all currencies and qualifications, which can be displayed by individual or Unit to measure readiness.
A single source of data truth.
Data is entered once and used many times, enabling accurate and easy-to-access reporting.
Seamless management of all types of training course. Syllabus definition and training plan integration, charting course progress, setting event pre-requisites, drag & drop training events onto the scheduling pane, student training record management, course documentation repository and integration with SCORM-compliant learning management systems (LMS/LCMS).
System access via the web to allow remote referencing and data entry, particularly useful for post-event outcomes such as logging flight details.
Key tenets of a truly adaptable operations and training management system.
An operations and training management system must be sufficiently adaptable to meet customers’ needs, which could be anything from a small training school to a nation’s entire defence aviation operations. Key tenets of a truly adaptable system include:
1. Platform-agnostic access
A system that can be accessed by an array of IT platforms and mobile devices, either via a customer server or cloud hosted.
Suitable for any number of units from individual to multiple squadrons or wings, and even at enterprise level.
3. Integration with other systems
Engendering a ‘system of systems’ approach using APIs for the extraction or addition of data between systems.
4. Real-time updates
Accurate and timely situational awareness of tasks, commitments and resources, reducing risk while improving collaboration and safety.
Making it Happen
For over 25 years, Ocean Software has been producing class-leading time, task & resource management software optimised for military air operations. Its principal product, FlightPRO®, is now the cornerstone air planning tool for 13 militaries globally, providing a scalable and configurable system for the precise management of operations and training processes.
Ocean’s combination of innovative software developers and experienced former-serving military operators, together in close consultation with its customer-base, have developed FlightPRO® into the highly capable operations and training management tool that it is today.
FlightPRO® is fully scalable, but its core strength is best realised when installed at enterprise level. As a single source of data truth, consistency of records can provide true ‘recruitment to retirement’ data sets from which any number of reports can be generated to understand and analyse performance data such as utilisation rates, capability and readiness.