Solutions In Practice: PIVOT and the EFB
Author: Mike Schulter, Managing Director at PIVOTSubscribe
Mike Schulter, Managing Director at PIVOT considers how good mounting can add to EFB effectiveness, efficiency and safety with enhanced investment return.
The PIVOT line of EFB cases and mounts began in 2013 by happenstance in the cockpit of a Southwest Airlines jet. At that time, many airlines were just starting EFB operations using standard commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) tablets like iPad and Surface instead of the typical installed EFBs. Installed EFB’s were losing popularity due to the high cost of hardware, certification costs and short lifespan in a rapidly changing tech environment. Simultaneously, the function gap between installed and tablet EFBs was shrinking rapidly. Airlines were keen to move to portable EFBs, and there were many mounting choices available, but limitations such as hardware cost, function, safety, and installation cost and timeline – loomed large.
A MOUNTING SYSTEM SHOULD SUPPORT BUT NOT DETERMINE EFB CHOICE
Maximizing the Return on Invested Capital or ROIC is a must for survival in an ultracompetitive landscape. The process of maximizing ROIC in the EFB space is a combination of managing up front mount and device costs, deployment labor, user profile and program management. In the long term, IT flexibility is paramount. Being able to choose the tablet that is right for the program not the one which fits the mount can equate to millions of dollars in savings on hardware, labor and AOG time. Choices must be made but there is no reason to make them hastily.
Prior to joining Southwest Airlines, I founded FlyBoys around gear for military pilots. In 2013, most of the portable EFB mounts available weren’t pilot-friendly and were expensive with very little opportunity for ROIC. While flying as a commercial pilot I realized the opportunity to design something that would provide the features pilots need to make the most of the EFB. The typical solutions did not have any pilot perspective in the design process – and as such EFB in the cockpit needed to be reimagined. Also, understanding the need for measurable ROIC, it was clear an entirely new system would have to both be favored by pilots and also make financial and strategic sense for the airline in the short and long term.
PIVOT comes to market
Fast forward nine months and PIVOT was developed, tested, and approved for use. PIVOT became the EFB platform choice for Southwest Airline’s new EFB program serving 9000 pilots and 700 aircraft. This was immediately followed by FedEx, WestJet, Delta, and United. Now, over 160 airlines from around the world use PIVOT with thousands of PIVOT mounts flying millions of miles. PIVOT is the fastest growing EFB solution in the world for the last seven years and it isn’t slowing down any time soon.
WHY AIRLINES CHOOSE PIVOT
There are a lot of reasons why they choose PIVOT but, in the end, it boils down to maximizing ROIC (figure 1).
- Universal connectivity
- PIVOT’s patented mounting plate guarantees user have an identical experience for connection and function in every aircraft type and throughout EFB device upgrades. This allows multiple form factors to be utilized by the same mount further enhancing operational stability during deployments.
- Enhanced pilot-oriented functionality
- Designed from inside the cockpit means pilots enjoy single hand adjustment for installation and removal, plus the ability to easily tilt and rotate the EFB as needed. Making common cockpit tasks easier enhances the utilization rate of the device and produces fewer screen interpretation errors. The drop protection protects users from accidental damage in transit, reducing the potential for unnecessary flight delays.
- Upfront and ongoing cost management
- A variety of mounting options provide a wide variety of cost-effective deployment strategies, minimizing maintenance, hardware, regulatory and AOG time.
- Deployment planning and management
- Fewer work hours are required to execute a PIVOT deployment due to the universal nature of the mount. PIVOT devices can be deployed at any rate or schedule the airline would like because the mount works with both new and old PIVOT EFB cases!
- Long Term IT flexibility
- The ability to choose the right device for the airline’s IT needs is paramount. PIVOT means you can pick the tablet that fits your needs, not your cradle. PIVOT produces EFB cases for the latest Apple and Microsoft devices that are most suitable for aviation.
- Asset and residual value protection
- EFBs are expensive and cost a lot to fix if damaged. PIVOT users average a break rate of less than 1% annually, thereby reducing the cost of replacing or fixing devices in an EFB program. PIVOT protected devices also regularly attain an 80% ‘A’ condition rating for valuation at lease turn in or resale. This means an average of $25 USD additional value to the tablet further offsetting the cost of the PIVOT system.
A KEY COMPONENT IN EFB UTILITY
There are many choices to make related to developing and managing an effective EFB program, one of the most important being how to mount EFBs in the flight deck in a safe, effective, and affordable way. When COTS EFB devices first became an option for most airlines, the only mounting options were STCs and large, unreliable double suction cups with all utilizing form specific cradles.
The PIVOT case and mounting system is immediately appealing to airline leadership from a financial standpoint for ease of acquisition, approval and deployment. All while providing truly universal opportunities to save money and streamline operations thereby enhancing and maximizing ROIC.
PIVOT provides a common starting point for EFB for either small or large user groups flying many different aircraft types in geographically separated locations. No matter where or what aircraft you’re flying, the PIVOT experience and familiarity is the common underpinning of the program. The PIVOT mount and case solution is also proving successful beyond the flight deck. Anywhere that an employee can reference a tablet device as part of their job duties, PIVOT offers a mounting solution and an EFB case that can work with any of PIVOT’s mounts. This includes Flight Attendants, aircraft maintenance technicians (AMT), and other ground support employees.
While airline EFB administrators continue to shape the EFB world, they also continue to shape product development at PIVOT. Our customers have continued to push us towards innovation with requests for upgraded product options and the development of entirely new solutions to meet customer needs. In addition to EFB mounts and cases, we have also worked with numerous airlines to provide adequate EFB power via flight deck power plugs and charging cables and have explored assigning external battery packs to Pilots to maintain on their own and use as needed. Although not every product developed becomes a marketable solution, if an EFB is involved and PIVOT has an opportunity to innovate and disrupt, we relish the opportunity to continue supporting EFB administrators and the rest of the industry.
For all that the EFB has revolutionized flying, the devices used still need to be mounted in a manner that promotes safe and effective use and offers additional capabilities to make the investment worthwhile.
Mike is a career aviation professional having flown aircraft such as the F-16 and B-737 for more than 10,000 total flight hours. Mike leads a talent-filled pool of 15 professionals dedicated to customer service and innovation in aviation. Mike is dedicated to needs of pilots and EFB programs, and also oversees the expansion to marine, rail and other mass transit solutions in need of PIVOT functionality. Mike is a dedicated family man and enjoys golf and offshore fishing when the opportunity presents.
PIVOT supplies a device case and mounting solution to secure EFB devices in the cockpit with a unique integrated mounting channel that creates a constant future-proof assurance – no matter what the next device might be. Because the people behind Pivot are pilots, the system has been created with understanding of the task.