Ask Kellee Valentine, ACI Jet’s vice-president of flight operations, how his company used to make changes to its manuals and he laughs: “Very slowly and painfully.”
ACI Jet provides corporate aircraft management, charter, maintenance and ground handling services. Based at San Luis Obispo, California, since 1998, it now has a 12-strong fleet of executive jets, ranging in size from Cessna Citation CJ2s to a Gulfstream G650.
It also operates three corporate jet centres, a fuel service location and a maintenance facility.
Those multiple areas of activity inevitably required many manuals – everything covering flight operations, FBO customer services, line service training, plus safety management system and even memos to cabin crew. “In total, we had up to 3,000 pages,” says Valentine.
Having suffered the frustrations of using Microsoft Word, converting documents to PDF format, then compiling them all, ACI Jet knew it needed something better and was initially looking at Adobe’s Frame Maker programme. However, an approach from a Web Manuals representative swayed the company’s decision as it looked more closely into the subject.
“We’re a small company, so everyone wears a lot of different hats. Nobody has a lot of time to sit around and play with manual formatting and most of our time was dedicated to fixing formats – headers and footers, ensuring revision numbers were changed, etc.”
Valentine handled much of the work, together with his assistant and another couple of staff: “Typically, it took a full eight hours with three people working on it to accomplish a revision change. Now, a revision change takes about three hours – if it’s a big one – and I can do that myself. So, we’ve gone from 24 man hours to three.”
That saving alone made it easy to justify purchasing the Web Manuals system, he adds.
ACI Jet got the Web Manuals system online in about four weeks, although there were one or two aspects the company initially found more challenging.
For example, Valentine fed back to Web Manuals that it seemed difficult to clearly set access to manuals. The system had no overall visual representation of who had access to each manual.
“However, Web Manuals listened and has made great strides since then. They’ve now come up with a matrix that graphically depicts who has viewing and reminder rights, for example, and that helps tremendously.”
For companies whose personnel do not have an existing level of expertise in making manual revisions, “I would recommend they take the onsite training that was provided to us and perhaps invest in having Web Manuals’ trainers stay an extra day and go through the process of editing and publishing a manual.”
Now that things are settling down, one aspect of the new system that Valentine particularly likes is the compliance library for FAA Part 135 regulations, and ISBAO standards. “It allows you to take every regulation, or industry standard, and link it to the part of your manual that shows compliance.
“If an FAA inspector comes in and says ‘How do you comply with x?’ we simply open the compliance library and it links to all the references in our manual for the given regulation.”