Air Works: Rocking the Aviation Industry to its Very Foundation

Date:   Monday , July 20, 2015

Not to contradict with the common perception, but transformation is not brought on by large and politically powerful companies. It is the nimble SMEs that slip the surly bonds of earth and dream big to formulate solutions that shake the industry to its very foundation. Serving as the perfect archetype of this statement is the awe-inspiring story of Air Works India Engineering an Aviation MRO company, which has made a remarkable impact in the industry by consistently pushing the edge of the envelope. Founded in 1951 as a family run business, Air Works corrected its course to become an aggressive leading-edge company by augmenting its technology footprint to a whopping four digit percentage over the past three years. The Gurgaon headquartered company espoused cloud and BYOD four years ago, when they were considered as just fancy words by rest of the industry. The commoditization of cloud-based collaboration and connectivity infrastructure across hangars and line stations secured with proprietary encoding techniques not just led to a non-linear revenue growth in double digit percentage, but also minimized attrition.

Aviation Software Services Wearing Yet another Hat

Leasing companies devoid of which most airlines can\'t function are unable to understand the technicalities of aviation, due to the absence of the whole lifeline record of the aircraft. Even if a few claim to have the record, it is extremely difficult to use and expensive. This makes evaluation a nightmare when the airline goes down or when the aircraft field is being decommissioned. There is a dearth of a good ecosystem with great set of IT solutions either packaged or technical consultancy or IT services to salvage such situations in aviation industry. The technology changes before they build a product, hence they again fall back in the race. Motivated by this factor, Air Works picked the SaaS app market lane to create its own fabric, instead of falling into paradigm of colossally expensive big shelf products like ERP. As the capabilities of the resulting flight management product surpassed the company\'s expectations, Air Works determined to alleviate customers\' pain point as well and took the concept further to include aviation software services to its agenda; thereby also increasing its profitability and valuation by venturing into the very core market of aviation software services.

Air Works shook hands with like-minded companies that have the capability to improve existing products, converted them into SaaS and integrated them for the user community who are extremely hungry for an excellent leading-edge product. This ground-breaking product uses end-to-end cloud stack IaaS, PaaS and different layers from archival to real-time storage, rather than undergoing the grind of complex and expensive product engineering. The product is being concocted to perfection, since the company understands, observed and profited by unfurling the full capability of cloud and fused it with its unique expertise in commercial airlines as well as general aviation gained over the past 6 decades, not to mention the strong relationship it has built with customers and its profound knowledge of regulations. \"Our strategy is to manage our own technology by keeping an eye on the architecture and strategy and to outsource maintenance and support to other decent vendors,\" proclaims Ravinder Pal Singh, Global CIO, Air Works India Engineering.

End-to-End Flight Management Experience

In Asia, a person wishing to buy a few jets wander to various companies in various segments akin to hospitality, to identify the right ecosystem, management team & personals, visa requirements, certifications and regulatory norms to go from place A to place B. It is not just about the aircraft but the experience of the aircraft\'s owner. As today\'s generation lives in a world of apps and prefer using their own hands for requirements, Air Works is extending such experience with its SaaS app, which provides end-to-end flight management experience by connecting various partners worldwide.

SMAC in Aviation

SMAC has penetrated deeply in pretty much every sector in India except aviation and agriculture. Aviation is just bragging about RFID, when retail industry has dusted its hands out of it. IoT can help to find the right engineer at right time at the right hangar certified to right kind of job. We can transform his unique identity into a mobile identity to track him by tying it up with the planning software. Using e-Commerce, we can find the location and availability of particular component and its time of arrival through third party logistics. \"Aviation is the most beautiful industry where convergence of computer science and aviation engineering is still waiting to happen,\" says Ravinder. Vis-a-vis typical Indian airlines that would barely have seven types of aircrafts, Air Works deals with more than 50 types under DCGA approval. Therefore, the cheap, better and robust cloud is the obvious answer, since this requires tremendous amount of data crunching. Despite its global footprints, Air Works thinks like a mid-size Indian company. Hence, aside from MNA related strategization and scalability options, Air Works chose cloud due to fund constrains.

The company that exclusively works on cutting-edge technologies prefers a small team who can do wonders with technology and has the highest amount of integrity to work hard. \"We provide an environment where our people can learn continuously and has tremendous freedom to write code and build infrastructure they way they want. I invest abundant time in grooming them with a hands-on mentoring approach,\" says Ravinder. Having successfully completed the whole technology stack, the company will roll out its products within next year, once joined hands with the right technology partner.

Hoping for a Brighter Future

Akin to western CIOs, Indian CIOs have also begun to bring in transformation as business leaders. If a CIO can understand the business as well as technology aspect and capable of converging them, he/she can do great things with very few bucket of cash. With the overall growth of Indian economy and the increase in the earnings of Indian individuals, numerous people who could not have thought of flying on an aircraft are able to fly now and several people are interested in buying private jets. While this will direct a lot of investment towards India, it will also lead more competition to emerge. People selling packaged solutions should combine together either strategically or scale up to quickly build avant-garde solutions inline with technology innovations, and not a legacy behind the release. \"I only hope and dream that a lot of airports will open in at least in Tier-I and Tier-II cities. This will lead to a true low cost career culture, which will make aviation far more affordable,\" predicts Ravinder.

Aviation is a relatively young industry. Particularly when it comes to the training of pilots, mechanics, aircraft maintenance engineers and safety management experts, the sector is highly unorganized. Although schools for aviation engineering are opening here and there, it is not on a scale it needs to be. This is not just because the education is expensive, but also due to the lesser number of aircrafts and fleet size in India. One has to be extremely good to be an aviation engineer, since there is no second chance to rectify their mistakes. \"The gurus of aviation have regulated aviation so much that there is nothing to be regulated anymore,\" replies Ravinder with a pragmatic touch of humour when asked about the safety regulations in aviation.

The company that exclusively works on cutting-edge technologies prefers a small team who can do wonders with technology and has the highest amount of integrity to work hard. \"We provide an environment where our people can learn continuously and has tremendous freedom to write code and build infrastructure they way they want. I invest abundant time in grooming them with a hands-on mentoring approach,\" says Ravinder. Having successfully completed the whole technology stack, the company will roll out its products within next year, once joined hands with the right technology partner.

Panel

Key Management

Ravinder Pal Singh, Global CIO


This multiple patent holding technologist also acts as an advisor, management consultant and architect in Air Works. Unlike other CIOs who pass on hard core technical architecture decisions to a technology consulting company or product, Ravinder joins hands with his own peers and thinks through the whole lifecycle to choose the right technology and architecture that would carve out revenues as well as optimize hangar and operations to nullify wastage.

Vivek N Gour, MD & CEO

Vivek\'s democratic leadership provides Air Works the vision and implementation ability to become the preferred destination for aviation engineering. Vivek is also on the board of directors of Makemytrip.com, India\'s leading online travel company. Vivek holds an MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), University of Delhi, and a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from Sydenham College, University of Bombay.

Offices

Aside from its headquarters in Gurgaon, office in Mumbai and paint facilities in Hosur, the company has more than 40 line stations across India including Cochin, Vishag and Madurai.

Services

Aircraft Paint and Refinishing, Aircraft Management, Avionics Upgrades & Retrofits, Business & General Aviation MRO, Commercial Aviation MRO and Parts Distribution

Clients

Agusta Westland, Bell Helicopter, Bombardier, Dassault Falcon, Embraer, Garmin, Gulfstream, Hawker Beechcraft, Honeywell and Rockwell Collins

Certifications

CAAS, CAASL, CARC, DCA, DGCA, EASA, GACA, GCAA, QCAA, SO9001-2008, ISO14001-2004 and OSHAS 18001-2007, DGCA certified CAR-145 and CAMO