Air Transport World

From airways to electrons; Jeppesen is expanding into electronic information and document management.(Jeppesen Sanderson Inc.)(Information Technology)

Jeppesen is expanding into electronic information and document management

Created in 1934 to distribute copies of Elrey B. Jeppesen's famed little black notebook of data on airfields he used while flying the mail for Varney Airlines, what today is Jeppesen Sanderson Inc. is evolving "from basically a paper-producing company to an aviation-information company," says Horst Bergmann, president and CEO of Jeppesen and vice president of its parent Times Mirror Co.

The customized Airway Manual Services that grew out of Jeppesen's 10 cents notebook and that are used by virtually all U.S. airlines, and "65% and climbing" of those elsewhere in the world, still represent about 80% of the company's business, says Bergmann. Another 10% comes from the audiovisual training products developed by Sanderson Films, which was acquired by Times Mirror in 1968 and merged with Jeppesen in 1974.

The remaining 10%, "which I hope will be 20% when you ask me that question next year," reflects Jeppesen's rapidly growing presence in the provision of electronic-information and document-management services. Chief among them are the modular, Unix-based OnSight flight-operations-management system, whose users at this writing include Mitre Corp., Southwest, Transbrasil and United; the Maintenance Information Service, for which announced customers are Lufthansa Technik, Transbrasil and United, and JeppView, the company's first electronic chart, which is to be unveiled formally at Oshkosh early this month.

These products are an outgrowth of Jeppesen's involvement in development of the much-debated but never introduced electronic library system for the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330/340, says Bergmann. "We had a team transforming our charts and text into electronic data for on-board use but no customers were buying the ELS, so we were stuck with developed technology but very much back in paper," he says.

Discussion of ELS is "heating up again," he adds. "But there still are lots of questions: How do you load the data? How do you get [them] on board? Is it an item that needs to be certified by the FAAs and CAAs of the world? How Can you update it? …

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