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Retaining Airline Document Management Control

Dec 27th 2018
Retaining airline document management control

Document management can pose a number of different operational efficiency, safety and compliance challenges for airlines. One such challenge that airlines often consider is how to retain full management and editorial control of their mission-critical documents.

Airlines must be able to effectively update and maintain the standard of their documents on a regular basis. This is in keeping with various regulations including EU-OPS and Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). Additionally, they must have complete trust in the editing, publishing and distribution process.But it is here that a supportive document management system can provide airlines with the assurance they need, ensuring they retain full control and authority over their documents.

Below we look at the challenge and some other indirect issues related to retaining control of aviation documents and how using the right document management solution can help resolve these.

Constant manual amendments

Manuals consist of hundreds of pages and amendments are constantly being released due to both further technology advancements of aircraft and local changes. This can take a long time to manage effectively. As an OEM manufacturer releases regular manual amendments, which is particularly relevant for Airbus and Boeing fleets, extra editing capacity is required during peak times. This is particularly the case when the OEM combines a large number of aircraft variants into a single manual (such as Airbus).

With the additional pressure to complete numerous manual changes the editing process can become fragmented and maintaining control much more difficult. Such a situation can undermine the document management process and affect deadlines for completing manual amendments. Additionally, some in-house teams would be likely to struggle with updating complicated XML structured documents, resulting in slowing the entire process down further.

Ways that supportive document management helps retain control:

  • Improves the controlled distribution and tracking of documents and management of records
  • Improves the tracking and monitoring of document control processes as well as ensures compliance with document control requirements
  • Reduces the cycle time to develop a document, ensuring documents are updated in a timely manner
  • Collaboration - ability to easily customise, revise and publish documents shared by multiple parties

Supporting the regulatory compliance process

The importance of maintaining a positive relationship with the regulator cannot be underestimated. Whilst both OEM and Operational manuals require regulator oversight the frequency of changes can often place this relationship under pressure. This is especially the case for new fleets/tails coming into service and major overhauls.

Ways that document management help retain control:

A supportive document management approach can support this relationship in a number of ways, namely:

  • Standardisation and consistency of document formatting, with changes provided under an agreed service level agreement. The regulator can trust the changes that are going to be made
  • Archiving and control of all documents so that there is full version control and ability to review changes made at any juncture
  • The ability to provide an immediate communication portal to crews for urgent / important changes required by the regulator (and backed up in the manuals within a specific time frame)
  • Read and sign changes for all manual changes with full monitoring of all recipients of the changes; and follow up should crews not comply

Other ways a document management system helps retain control

Consistency & Standardisation

An inconsistent approach to document management with a mixture of XML, WORD, PDF and SGML can ultimately create a major issue at the user level whilst reducing efficiency at the publishing and distribution level.

Ways that document management help retain control:

A supportive and controlled document management system provides a clear process for not only how changes will take place but also how the changes will ultimately be formatted. This avoids any confusion and additionally avoids the ‘quick fix’ or the ‘hobbyist’ editor making changes that no-one else can follow with subsequent revisions.


Poor library management

Using multiple third-party tools and software could result in poor library management - and this can create even more unwanted challenges. For instance, it can create issues for your in-house publishing team which may then struggle to maintain control of documentation in circulation. There could also be an addition in human error, resulting in data loss or distributing incorrect manual versions. Single source management is often lost when there are multiple tools servicing the publishing of aviation documents. As a result, human error can be the catalyst for more serious incidents later down the line and affect operations.

Ways that document management help retain control:

  • Facilitates standardization of document appearance and content across all AOCs;
  • Maintain critical information and detailed records/data to support future operations
  • Overall quality standards can be met, diminishing inconsistencies and human error
  • Archiving and version control is critical

Complex air operations

Air operations may have thousands of pilots, tens of thousands of staff, and an enormous number of live documents (whether digital and/or physical). As such, the need to ensure that documents are up to date, published and distributed at the right time to the right people within the organisation is vital. Failure to do so may result in operations coming to a halt because of delays.

Ways that document management help retain control:

  • Document management in aviation requires a cloud-based solution that can stand up reliably for thousands of simultaneous users, enable collaboration between departments, integrate with roster systems and external regulators and ensure regulatory compliance at scale.
  • Accessibility - employees based at different locations are able to access relevant documents without issue and with the assurance that they will have the most up to date information
  • Improves the document distribution process to ensure the right documents are easily accessible by the right people, at the right time
  • Helps to lessen the impact of irregular operations
  • Minimizes the decision-making time

A secure and trusted solution

The question of cyber security is a business imperative, and this is the case for all aspects of an airline’s operational management. A full and comprehensive document management process including editing, publishing, archiving and distribution plus viewer APP control can be an airline’s IT nightmare. It is a non-core process and seen as an additive element of an airline operation.

Ways that document management help retain control:

The control and authority over document management comes from working with a trusted document management specialist that is able to:

  • Provide a standalone solution that is both trusted and fully secure
  • Manage all aspects of the document management process both efficiently and securely
  • Show that they have the expertise to deliver 365/24/7

The solution?

With such a big challenge, airlines need to find an effective document management system that can meet all their requirements, but one that also allows them to retain that much needed control. A supportive document management solution can encompass all your documents in a cloud central library and can ensure that you keep ownership and control of all content - without the risk of having duplicated documents spread across different tools/platforms. In addition to this, version control is also an essential element in publishing and a partnered solution helps to provide this functionality as standard in order to ensure a version ‘roll-back’ can take place if needed.


Learn how a supportive document management system can help improve and retain your content and version control within your airline and improve operational dependency.  Download the free guide now.