Air Canada pilots unlikely beneficiaries of document conversion services

October 22nd, 2013 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Document and Information Capture

When you take a moment to think about sectors that can most benefit from document conversion services, the airline industry may not be at the top of your list. Rather, you might point to the legal sphere, which leverages legal document scanning and other content management services to streamline processes and ensure compliance, or just a regular corporate office looking to facilitate daily operations.

However, according to The Globe & Mail, Air Canada is going paperless, with the goals of boosting efficiency and saving costs. Specifically, the airline will be introducing svelte tablet devices to replace unwieldy paper copies of pilot manuals, the latter of which weigh 16kg (more than 35lbs) each. As the news source explained, each aircraft is typically manned by two to four pilots, meaning the combined weight of their manuals can amount to as much as 64kg (just over 141lbs). 

This figure roughly equates to the weight of a passenger, which may seem like quite an insignificant amount in the grand scheme of things. However, as The Globe & Mail's Greg Keenan pointed out, "Even smaller changes, such as converting pilot manuals from paper to tablets, add up. The annual savings from that move will amount to more than $3 million – about half of which will come from lower fuel costs."

Indeed, the source noted, 30 percent of Air Canada's total costs currently goes toward fuel, so a reduction in fuel could translate into significant financial benefits for the airline. 

The bulky manuals currently being used by Air Canada pilots are slowly being phased out. Specifically, the airline's Sky Regional aircraft have already upgraded to iPads, and the rest of the fleet is set to follow beginning next year, according to the media outlet.

Flying high with paperless manuals
In addition to generating weight savings, switching to electronic manuals will also enable pilots to make better use of their time by negating the need for them to sit down with their paper manuals whenever airplane manufacturers send out updates. Previously, the issuance of these updates required pilots to painstakingly remove old pages and insert new ones in order to remain up to date with the latest guidelines.

"It's a much more efficient process," Air Canada chief executive Calin Rovinescu said of the upgrade to tablets, as quoted by the news source.

The switch is part of the airline's overarching bid to wipe out its debts and triumph on the stock market – and its efforts seem to be working. Thanks to a number of money-saving initiatives, Air Canada has been able to significantly decrease its debt costs. Moreover, the company reached its highest share price in nearly five years earlier this month, trading at $5.09 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. This represented a drastic turnaround from the situation Air Canada was experiencing this time last year, when its stock was trading at just $1.52.

Trading in pads for iPads
The airline industry isn't the only sector hoping to realize cost and efficiency savings by eschewing paper in favor of tablets. In August and September, a number of schools kicked off their academic years with a twist – namely, mobile devices took the place of textbooks and notepads in many classrooms – and even more educational institutions are set to follow in their footsteps, including Oxford Area High School in Chester County, Penn., according to The Daily Local News. By the beginning of 2014, all 350 Oxford students will be issued iPads, starting with freshmen, the source reported.

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