Working on School Features and Going to FSANA 2020 Conference
This week I'm excited to be showing TrackHobbs.com at the FSANA 2020 Flight School Operators Conference. After going to Livermore last year I came back with a renewed desire to close the gap between what TrackHobbs could do for clubs and what flight schools need. I had some schools using it and had entered into talks with some others to start evaluating how the system handled a lot of use cases. All the feedback I was receiving from my existing and prospective customers combined with the things I was running into while using TrackHobbs to manage my own partnership's airplane has helped me discover what I needed to improve
There were some user interface improvements since the last major update. We have had Squawk management for a while and we got CFI availability scheduling in the fall, but while both of those features could be used their initial versions left a lot to be desired. The Squawk interface got basic search and filtering while CFI availability went from being a list of available time slots to a visual schedule that enjoys a look and feel that is similar to the day schedule view.
One of our customers brought their need for billing discovery flights to our attention. Normally in the TrackHobbs system when you take a flight and generate a flight ticket the system will bill that flight at the hourly rate for the aircraft and CFI. With discovery flights the charge for aircraft and CFI are covered by a flat fee.
Billing for these discovery flights is very simple in concept. All we have to do is create an invoice object with metadata linking to the flight ticket just like we maintain for everything else that gets billed to ensure we don't duplicate bills. In the fall I was able to finish a frequently requested feature to create invoices for individual item sales instead of just flight tickets and monthly dues. I hadn't been sure where to put that feature so I tucked it away and hid it on the invoice list page, but that never felt quite optimal so when I started working to add discovery flights to the item sales page I decided that the Agent interface was the most natural place for it. You can do everything you normally need to without the agent interface, but it brings together the upcoming schedule, recent flights, item sales, billing, and recent invoices in a way that should avoid confusion.
To see all this in action take a look at the video I made about discovery flights and item sales.
Dispatch with Part 91.103 Audit Logs
The most exciting thing I'm planning to launch this week at FSANA is the new Advanced Dispatch feature with Part 91.103 audit logging. Instead of being a single busy page with a lot of information that your students and instructors aren't guaranteed to pay attention to there is a flow with multiple steps where pilots are prompted on each step to either submit information or confirm that they have seen the details on the current step.
The initial release has the following steps:
- Reservation - Verify that the reservation you are about to fly is correct and start or resume a dispatch.
- Maintenance - Confirm that there is no past due maintenance and no grounding or otherwise relevant squawks.
- Weight & Balance - Upload a picture of your weight and balance to prove you actually calculated it.
- Currency - Verify that the reserving member or CFI meets the requirements set in the aircraft currency rules.
- Aircraft Details - Enter meter start times and verify that required documents are present in the aircraft.
- Release - This is the last chance to verify all of the previous details and finish the dispatch.
There are multiple things about this dispatch flow that I think are exciting for both clubs and schools. The first is that everything that is presented or collected is saved as a part of the dispatch record. It doesn't just save that someone saw their maintenance and currency statuses, it also saves the details that were shown. It will block the release unless an admin overrides it when there are problems or missing confirmations.
This functionality has been a long time coming and I'm really excited to finish building out the rest of the features that will feed in to new data collection and confirmation steps in the dispatch flow.
Come say Hi
If you find yourself at FSANA this week come find our booth and lets talk about what your school needs and what we can do to help you meet your goals. If you end up missing it, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and lets talk anyway.