4 New Features for Clubs and Schools
In September and October we have been hard at work adding facilities to help clubs and schools manage their aircraft. There have been a lot of improvements but 4 stand out above the rest.
1. Agent User Interface
The agent interface is a streamlined view that can help your operations people have a view of all reservations and dispatch status, generate invoices, and review recent invoices.
All future reservations are visible and show what actions can be taken through a reservation's life cycle.
- Future reservation - No actions available
- Current reservation - Dispatch button visible
- Dispatched reservation - Return button visible
- Returned reservation - Dispatch button visible with links to completed flight tickets
The agent reservation list is a simple place for anyone to see all of the currently booked reservations. You can use the search to filter by aircraft, members, or CFIs.
After a member has finished flying the billing tab can be used to generate an invoice on the spot and collect a payment. If there are any questions about the invoice then the recent invoices tab can be used to review the invoice that was generated.
2. Fuel Reimbursement Tracking
Wet rentals always come with the question of how to handle fuel reimbursement when pilots have to fill up on the far end of their cross country trip. When a member fills up an airplane they can take a picture of the fuel receipt and upload it with information about the aircraft, flight ticket, fuel amount, amount paid, and any other notes they have for the admin. Once this is submitted the admin can review the reimbursement and decide to approve or deny it. If it is approved it can be converted directly into a credit that can be applied toward an invoice. If your organization has a policy including a maximum fuel price that you will reimburse then you can modify the reimbursement amount separately from what was submitted.
If a member doesn't want to submit the reimbursement themselves the admin can create the request and then approve it themselves. When a CFI fills up for a student they can also see the flight tickets they were instructing on and submit reimbursement for the flight. In the CFI case they may not want a billing credit so when their reimbursement is approved so you can make sure that you only approve the reimbursement when you are also entering it into your accounting system.
3. Item Sales Invoicing
Some schools operate a pilot shop or a club may want to invoice members for their initial buy in fee. With item invoicing you can create item definitions for everything you need to charge people for whether it is pilot supplies, airport key card fees, or anything else you might be selling.
4. Organization Information API
We have been investigating how to best integrate with external accounting systems to reduce the cost of synchronizing billing information into other accounting systems. This has led to the Trackhobbs API which can be used to fetch a list of organizations and query them based on your permission level inside each organization.
You can find the API swagger docs here. When you review the API you will see the following objects:
- Organization - Basic org information
- Member - Member details
- Aircraft - Basic aircraft information
- Invoice - All invoices for admin and billing users, personal invoices for members
- Payment - Member payments
- Deposit - Aggregated payments from stripe batches
- Invoice Item Type - Map of Trackhobbs item names to an external accounting system item name and account.
You can generate an API access token by going to "API Tokens" in the My Account menu and then passing it in an HTTP authorization header as a "bearer" token. If you want to experiment with the API you can use the swagger interface and if you have questions about integration be sure to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other honorable mentions
There have been more things going on than the big 4 listed above. Bugs still come up and the road map still has plenty to be done on it. Here are some smaller improvements that were also made along the way.
- Improve invitation process to help invited members know their email has not been validated yet.
- Custom CFI Price Tiers - Allow special CFI pricing per member so that they can pay the correct price based on what kind of training they are doing.
- Improved list filtering - Various list views now have filtering options to make it easier to find what you're looking for.
- New reports have been added to help you pull what you need to know out of the data available.
Plans for the Future
There is still a lot of work to be done and we're not finished yet. The biggest works in progress that aren't quite ready for release are CFI availability scheduling, advanced dispatch, Quickbooks integration, and member currency tracking.
CFI Availability Schedule
This has been an oft requested feature from multiple schools that use Trackhobbs as it is important for operations in any busy flight school. In the initial release instructors will be able to setup their schedule each week and later releases will include schedule templates that can be used to setup standard weekly schedules that can be quickly applied to an instructor.
Expected initial release: November
The plan for advanced dispatch is to go from just checking tach and hobbs times to making full part 91.103 proof of work possible. We have been identified how to get weather, notams, and runway length information datasources integrated into Trackhobbs so we can go through a preflight checklist and help your pilots complete all of the preflight due diligence that they need to do in order to be safe.
Expected initial release: January-February 2020
The initial milestone for Quickbooks integration is to transfer all invoices into Quickbooks while ensuring that all prerequisite accounting classes, accounts, and items exist in your company file. This is a work in progress, but we hope to have something importing invoices and possibly payments and deposits by the end of December.
Member Currency Tracking
At every turn it seems like we find more currency that we need to be tracking. Members and admins can upload documents that can be used for currency. In the end we hope to track 3 types of currency.
- TSA Identity documents - Currency expires when your drivers license or passport does
- Certificates - Currency expires when your flight review or medical is due
- Aircraft currency (exists now) - Rules dictating that a pilot must have X hours of flight time in the last Y days.
This more advanced currency tracking will be a part of the advanced dispatch project, but the schedule for adding it depends on how much time and energy the other 91.103 requirements take up.
Expected initial release: January-February 2020