E-Commerce: Navigating through the information highway

June 1, 2004



Navigating through the information highway

By Joe Escobar

June 2004

The Internet — it is a vast expanse of information that has been termed the information superhighway. In the past 10 years it has gone from being mostly a novelty to an essential business tool. Aviation is no exception. We will take a look at some of the ways that the Internet can help us in our jobs.

One of the biggest advantages of the Internet is the ability to perform research. In fact, if you are looking for technical information, chances are you can find it on the Internet. Most manufacturers have sections of their web site devoted to technical documents.

The Internet also offers you the ability to stay current on regulatory information that is available. The FAA’s web site allows you to do many things including look up advisory circulars, research regulations (FARs), and even get the contact information for all the FAA offices. Log onto www.faa.gov to view all the services and information available.

The FAA is now offering a new online service to certificated airmen including mechanics. You can establish an account, change your address, and even order a replacement certificate. Go to http://registry.faa.gov/airmen.asp to learn more.

Navigating around
Although it has been termed the information superhighway, to some, navigating the Internet can seem like trying to drive around in a demolition derby. But there are resources available to help you navigate around. The FAA has published a CD titled “The FAA Guide to the Internet.” It offers an organized list of hyperlinks to various resources available on the Internet. Many FSDOs have these available if you ask.

One company that has helped organize the resources available on the Internet is Aircraft Technical Publishers (ATP) (www.atp.com). At Aviation Industry Week I saw a demonstration of its latest product — Navigator V. The product is an easily navigable platform that is quite user friendly. It moves seamlessly from ADs to ACs to service bulletins and many forms, and contains links where applicable to Internet sites.

Of course, ATP is not the only game in town when it comes to regulatory information. Other companies such as TData (www.tdatacorp.com) and Avantext (www.avantext.com) offer regulatory compliance products. When looking for a product for regulatory research, be sure to talk to all the companies to see which one best fits you.

Maintenance tracking
There are many software products out there that allow users to track maintenance requirements on their aircraft. Some of these products are Internet-based systems. An advantage of this type system is that a user can view the information from any computer that has Internet access. He or she does not have to be at their shop to view the information. Updates are instantaneous and viewable by all users.

Ordering parts
Ordering parts can also be done online. Quite a far way from the old days when a salesperson would fly to your facility to show you the latest products, ordering parts these days can be just a click away. You can go to the manufacturer’s web site, get information about the product and where it is distributed, and in most cases, order it online.

Online tools for parts procurement
Inventory Locator Services, or ILS (www.ilsmart.com) is a much-used tool for parts procurement. It is a way to bring buyers and sellers together for fast and efficient parts procurement.

AvQuotes.com, launched in January 2000, provides aircraft operators a system to obtain maintenance and refurbishment quotes from maintenance and refurbishment centers. Maintenance requirements posted on the AvQuotes site are distributed to enrolled maintenance and refurbishment centers for their review. Based on the service center’s ability to satisfy the posted requirements, quotes are provided directly to the aircraft operator by the maintenance and refurbishment centers.

Many companies have embraced online training. It is a way for technicians to receive training without having the expense of travel. Although not all training courses can be adapted for online applications, many can. Companies like aerolearn.com and aviationlearning.com offer exclusive online courses. Other traditional training companies like FlightSafety offer online courses. For example, FlightSafety offers Principles of Troubleshooting, a popular course to teach the skills necessary to effectively troubleshoot systems, as an online course. Technicians log on at the scheduled time and participate in a virtual classroom. You can even pose questions to the instructor to have them answered. If you prefer, you can pose your question to the instructor anonymously if you don’t want to ask it in front of the virtual class. And once you complete your training you can log onto MyFlightSafety.com to view training received by yourself or by those working for you.

Get your degree
Taking training to the next degree, some universities offer online courses. Universities such as Eastern New Mexico University Roswell (ENMUR) and EmbryRiddle Aeronautical University offer collegate degrees based on online courses. In most cases, you can earn your degree without ever having to step foot on campus.

Virtual magazine
I would be remiss if I failed to mention briefly that AMT offers a wide variety of tools on its web site. You can view archived articles from the magazine and read feature articles that are only available online. You can also participate in a forum with fellow mechanics, order regulatory publications from the AMTonline bookstore, and even view job listings. The site also offers links to many aviation sites including regulatory, associations, and general interest. To see all that AMTonline has to offer, be sure to log on to www.amtonline.com.

As we can see, the Internet is more than just a means to illegally download music. It is a valuable tool that can help us in our jobs. With a little knowledge, you can effectively navigate your way around the Internet and use it to your best advantage.

For information on online training opportunities as well as traditional training, be sure to see our training resources guide on page 30.

About the Author

Joe Escobar