Written by Lionel Rolland, Managing Director, EFORSA
As the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the temporary closure of workplaces, leading to a period of confinement and social distancing, many have adapted to working remotely. This begs the question, is it possible to imagine airport operational management being carried out from a distance?
In many cases, this is a not an option as these services require continual presence, even without bustling air traffic.
Airports are required to maintain airfield and airside infrastructure, as well as maintaining the competence of staff, in order to comply with regulatory certification, even during temporary closure. The servicing and maintenance of equipment and training plans for personnel must be continued without interruption There are many issues to consider in readiness for the continuation and resumption of normal operations following a period of inactivity:
COVID-19 has highlighted the management and communication difficulties involved with the complex requirements of maintaining all of the above. There are airports where personnel are still using paper notebooks and reports are compiled in Excel-type documents, which can result in transmission problems and tracking issues. Traditionally, each department also has its own tools and methods of collating, storing, and distributing this information – another factor to consider.
There are many tools available on the market that facilitate the remote monitoring and control of teams. These tools can be hosted, as a first solution, on the airport’s systems and servers but can, in the case of working remotely, pose the problem of remote access, with total security and reliability issues for the personnel and managers who are not physically present at the airport.
The second solution uses Saas technology with the tools hosted on independent servers, accessible via the Internet, that offer the advantage of being separate from the airport’s own servers.
A few years ago, airports and aviation companies had to be convinced to out-source their ticketing services was a valid solution. During the AMADEUS Chairman’s conferences, Saas technology and its advantages were recommended as the way forward.
Today, this method is a standard part of the business services landscape. The idea and solution is simple: the service isn’t hosted on a personal computer or the company servers, it is accessed via the web – relieving space constraints and providing remote access in a world where cloud computing is becoming more prominent.
Throughout this crisis, airports who were already using Saas benefitted the most and gained the following advantages:
The usefulness and practical value of logbooks at airports is well established in its many forms and is a regulatory requirement. A digital logbook offers many advantages during regular circumstances and especially during a crisis. These advantages include:
We need to recognize that COVID-19 has required many people globally to work in isolation but this shouldn’t result in poor communication or connection.
In an airport setting, many departments work in silos with little inter-departmental communication. With all the common factors shared between each department, achieving a holistic view of the whole operation should be the business goal rather than having a fragmented view that, historically, makes global decision-making more difficult.
Many companies supply software management systems for individual departments but few offer a system for all. This approach results in departmental isolation, the very thing that should be avoided – a system designed for all departments unifies the company through a common format, process, and form of communication.
Lionel Rolland, MBA – has worked in many different sectors of the industry before creating EFORSA – the French ARFF & Operations Training Centre near Toulouse in France – in 2012. He is also an experienced IT service management specialist which led him to create EFORSAIR’s operational management software.