I am a big fan of digital aircraft fueling processes (eFueling) at airlines. If you are a frequent reader of this blog or podcast listener, this might not surprise you. During the last couple of months, I have been publishing content about digital aircraft fueling processes regularly.
Even at the dawn of COVID-19, I published an appeal for eFueling and why it’s the right time for airlines to go all-in. The reasons were quite evident at that time: low investment, scalable savings, swift implementation during reduced operations, etc. And each of the aspects is still relevant more than ever.
Digital Aircraft Fueling — This Is No Longer About Financial Savings Or Efficiency Only!
However, there’s one aspect I neither considered nor observed at that time. And this aspect isn’t primarily related to financial savings or efficiency.
So here’s a little backstory first.
I lately had a chat with an IATA representative. He provided some very interesting insights into IATA’s current work. As you can imagine, they are working day and night to support airlines on all possible levels.
Initially, this chat wasn’t about aircraft fueling processes. Among other topics, we also discussed necessary measures airlines have to implement to provide passengers with a maximum of safety regarding the pandemic. In that context, he also mentioned that IATA is analyzing airlines’ operational process chain very thoroughly. Why? They want to identify each process step that requires a personal interaction of two or more persons. For each of the identified processes, IATA is urging airlines to implement digital alternatives.
The underlying goal is evident and essential. Through reduced personal interactions and established digital processes, potential COVID-19 infection sources are minimized.
This was interesting to hear. Although this totally makes sense, my thoughts have been centered around passengers so far.
Personal Interaction Still Is An Integral Part Of Aircraft Fueling Process
At that moment, scales literally fell from my eyes. When taking a look at the aircraft fueling processes of many airlines, the dominance of manual processes is apparent. Personal and verbal communication between the cockpit crew and fuel provider is standard. Additionally, fuel receipts are usually paper-based and a face-to-face handover is standard.
In pre-COVID times those manual aircraft fueling processes represented a source for optimization — especially in terms of quality and process efficiency. But the pandemic changed everything. In today’s world, those manual, face-to-face processes are no longer just a source of inefficiency. Even worse, they are a potential source of infection.
Due to that reason, a digital aircraft fueling process won’t be a nice-to- or should-have in the future. On the contrary, airlines that take COVID-19 seriously have to consider a digital fueling process as a must-have.
How Does A Digital Fueling Process Help Airlines?
As already mentioned, a digital aircraft fueling process holds a wide variety of benefits in terms of efficiency, quality, and financial savings. If you want to find out more about these aspects, you should check out some of our previous blog posts.
However, when talking about COVID-19, a digital aircraft fueling process holds an absolute killer-argument: It eliminates manual and verbal processes completely.
- With a digital aircraft fueling process, the distribution of fuel orders is completely digital
- The fuel provider can provide process milestones digitally
- Fuel receipts and acknowledgments are also exchanged digitally
IATA To Add Digital Signature To Message Standard
Additionally, to support airlines in the best possible way, IATA currently discusses an official enhancement of its eFueling message standard. The add-on contains the support of digital signatures enabling the cockpit crew to acknowledge receipts even easier.