An end to paper technical logs in Aviation?

Banishing paper with Electronic Tech Logs

Author: Paul Boyd, Director at Conduce

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As children, we all enjoyed creating paper aeroplanes and seeing how far we could make them fly but many people might be surprised at how much paper is still used on our commercial flights today. If you have been lucky enough to sit towards the front of the aircraft, you will no doubt have seen the person wearing a high-vis jacket with a clipboard and paperwork leave the aircraft just before the doors are closed. This is Technical Log paperwork - between the ground staff, engineers and the pilot - that must happen every time an aircraft sets off on a journey, anywhere in the world.

A Technical Log must be completed for every flight as a legal record of the aircraft’s technical status and journey. The data includes things like any defects and fuel consumption. It also records all maintenance carried out on an aircraft between scheduled maintenance. Prior to each departure the tech log is reviewed before being signed off to say the aircraft is legally acceptable to the captain. 

Incredibly, in these digital times, this is still a paper-based system for more than 90% of airlines in the world. Despite the incredible engineering feat of commercial air travel, airlines are conservative in their adoption of new technologies. The rigorous safety checks and distributed regulatory air authorities that have be followed to approve new systems can, quite understandably, often slow progress.

However, the adoption of Electronic Technical Logs is now accelerating, and Conduce’s eTechLog8 and Panasonic TOUGHBOOK are at the heart of the solution. eTechLog8 is a mobile solution that replaces the aircraft paper technical log. Instead of paper, users complete the log using the software application on the TOUGHBOOK G1 rugged tablet. Once completed, the data is transmitted to the airline, allowing Maintenance and Flight Operations real time monitoring and control.

This switch to a digital system delivers massive efficiencies to the airline. Using the system is faster than paper, eliminates the risk of human error and provides real-time data to the airline which can be easily used for optimising operations such as maintenance scheduling.

Conduce have been working with Panasonic TOUGHBOOK for more than a decade and we use the devices for a number of reasons. Firstly, they are incredibly durable and can withstand knocks, drops, rain, dust and the extreme temperatures experienced around the world.

We provide the rugged tablets to airlines with the Windows LTSC operating system pre-installed on the device. This basically locks the device down for security purposes and is the same version of Windows used for ATMs and car entertainment and safety systems. It means that updates are tightly controlled and access to the internet is locked down – protecting against hacking. 

For transmission of data, the device is equipped with an Integrated 4G LTE multi-carrier mobile broadband chip supporting satellite and GPS connections. For continuity, all Conduce applications are installed natively on the device, meaning that even without an internet connection, the application continues to collect data and then transmits as soon as a connection becomes available. For back-up on the rare occasion of device failure, the TOUGHBOOK devices are also equipped with a Micro SD card. As well as storing information on the device hard drive, all data is also encrypted and stored on the card up to last key stroke and can be easily transferred to a new device if required.

As well as the TOUGHBOOK devices being the best design for our solution, another reason we have continued to work with these products over the past decade is the incredible service and support offered by Panasonic. Whenever devices are sent for repair, they come back looking brand new. When airlines choose to switch from paper to our eTechLog8 solution, they are investing for the long-term and the TOUGHBOOK devices deliver an incredible return on investment. 

So, with airline customers across Europe, the Middle East and Australia and interest continuing to grow, paper Technical Logs look set to be replaced over the coming years – even if paper planes remain a fun past time for kids and their grandparents.


Header image source: Shutterstock/Olena Yakobchuk

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