Short-term benefits will come from simply having all paper records scanned and digitized. One recent transition of a leased Gecas aircraft required 87 boxes of paper records, Tams notes. “Now we must help the delivering airline get records together on paper, give them to the accepting airline and regulatory authority to review, and then five years later do it all over again,” he says. With electronic records scanned, indexed and centrally stored, Gecas can concentrate on records that have changed.
Another advantage is enforcement of Gecas's delivery bible of required records. The leasing company gives this bible to all its delivering airlines, but carriers often interpret “holy scripture” differently. “We hope that with an all-electronic manual, we can enforce it more rigidly,” Tams says.
A third advantage is that the accepting airline and its regulator can review documentation on the web. “That means less travel for new customers and less accommodation expense for old customers,” Tams says.
Gecas continues to want international standards for acceptable lease records and is working with The Aviation Working Group on this challenge.
Carriers also see benefits of electronic records. EasyJet uses Stream to digitize all aircraft maintenance records, technical log pages, certifications, daily maintenance tasks, airworthiness directives, service bulletins, modifications, repairs and lease-end records, explains Swaran Sidhu, head of fleet and technical management.
The carrier began digitizing records in 2009 and now does it for “every piece that can be scanned,” Sidhu says. Benefits include easy access to and management of records. For example, if an outstation has failed to complete a record for maintenance done there, “we can poke them,” he jokes. “And lessors can access records from remote places anywhere in the world.”
EasyJet keeps its own bible of lease-delivery records. “We still keep paper now, but eventually, we would like them just to print out the digital records,” Sidhu says. “It is a mind-set change to just take digital records.”
It uses Swiss Aviation Software's AMOS maintenance software to manage maintenance execution and would like to transfer AMOS data digitally into Stream instead of downloading it to a spreadsheet first. And Sidhu also wants to upload data from other departments, for example the technical library, so lessors and other stakeholders have one place to go for all needed information. “The main thing it gives us is easy long-term access in a cost-effective way.”
In the meantime, there is still much to be done. Michael Denis, vice president for customer engagement at InfoTrust, sees two kinds of problems in managing leasing data: regulation and capabilities. “This does not solve the regulatory problem, but addresses the capabilities challenge,” he says.
Denis divides the challenge, in turn, into three parts. First, “does it cover the whole airline-lessor ecosystem, including contract management, lease reserves and back-to-birth records?” he asks. “Probably not, many airlines say it does not solve the whole problem.”