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Airlines continuously seek new efficiencies that extend beyond just turning the aircraft quicker from one flight to the next. At Republic Airways, we analyze every business area for opportunities that will improve cost and time savings. In 2015, we came up with a solution that aimed to offer relief for our System Operations Control (SOC) associates to better manage call volume into the center and provided on-demand information to our crew members, accessible at their fingertips.
Our solution was a custom mobile application called Crew Life, optional for all crew members at Republic and available for them on their electronic flight bag (EFB) devices and personal mobile devices. Along with a third-party developer, the app was created with the insight of our pilots, flight attendants, and SOC associates, customized to address their needs and provide the essential information that they seek on every flight.
The app enables crew members to opt-in to receive self-notifications that range from schedule updates to gate changes, eliminating the need for crew schedulers to call or email the notification and the crew members from calling the SOC for confirmations. Just in 2020, around 70,000 self-notifications have been pushed through the mobile app, which could equate to nearly 70,000 phone calls saved.
Electronic releases are a major benefit of the app as well. In fact, 99.9 percent of Republic-operated flights retrieve electronic releases from the application, saving time for the pilots. The app’s schedule details feature is the most used by the crew. Information pulls from several systems and is refreshed continually. So crew members can refer to one source for all the information they need throughout their workday rather than switch from one source to the next. Other simple features that add convenience for crew members are crew contact details, deadhead information, and hotel and transportation information for their overnight hotel and shuttle transportation, airport maps that highlight crew room locations, and more.
Because the app was created with the crew members’ workday and lifestyle at the top of mind, its adoption rate has hovered around 97 percent. Crew members quickly realized having the answers and information they need at their fingertips was much more convenient than placing a call to the SOC. They consider the app an additional benefit in navigating their day-to-day work. Many download it on their personal device along with their EFB to reference when they’re preparing for an upcoming trip.
Even after the app’s inception and rollout, a committee, including pilots and flight attendants, review the feedback and suggestions that have been collected to help determine what new updates and enhancements will be made to the app. The app is updated almost quarterly to address the feedback. In its latest release in September 2020, some new features were landscape orientation and dark mode options, as well as the capability to get push notifications for gate changes on their upcoming flights.
From a crew scheduling and planning standpoint, SOC associates are able to spend more time working through strategic issues and planning rather than spending a bulk of their day on the phones answering questions from the crew related to their schedules that are now handled through the app.
While we conceived the idea of the Crew Life app to increase the efficiencies for our crew members and the SOC department, it has evolved to be so much more for our business and our people.