Part 135 technical manuals are finally going digital
When I was a Part 135 pilot in a small company, I often witnessed the struggle to find information in the required technical manuals easily. Because we were a 24-hour EMS operation, I often was a part of the struggle, trying to help after hours when the mechanic was on his way in to fix whatever I broke. It was a challenge to keep track of so much information. Each airplane could fill a small room with manuals, paperwork, and technical information.
I’ve since moved to a Part 91 job, but that doesn’t make the information much more manageable. We no longer have a mechanic on staff, so I must provide the manuals if I need maintenance. When we first took delivery of a plane, the boss said, “Just throw the manuals in my office.” Unfortunately, he couldn’t find his desk when we finished throwing the manuals in his office.
The manuals are critical for flight safety, but flipping pages and one-dimensional drawings feels archaic. Thankfully, it looks like paper maintenance manuals are going the way of the old paper Jepps, but there is better news on the horizon.
ATP and Pratt & Whitney Canada announced their new interactive technical manual. For now, the Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETM) will be available for the PT-6 engines, but more IETM’s will be available in the future.
Here is where technology gets impressive. Instead of looking at a single drawing on a paper, or even worse, relying on text to understand a system, the technician will now have the capability of seeing 3D imagery, advanced graphic controls, and hyperlinks. They can also hide manual sections to focus specifically on what they need.
Mechanics will also access the information either online or offline through ATP’s desktop or mobile application. A manual in the palm of your hand. It’s a great time to be a pilot. Whether you are a Part 91 or Part 135 operation, your life is about to get a lot easier.