Solutions

Safety and Savings for Airline with FileMaker Pro
United Airlines uses FileMaker Pro to analyze performance, approve and alter parts, and track warranties for aircraft engineering and maintenance. Learn how the user-centric solution has helped save them millions of dollars.

United Airlines

Safe, on time, and reliable. Those who fly take aircraft engineering and maintenance and scheduling for granted—but for those behind the scenes, keeping planes in the air and on time is a never–ending, complex job. And there's no room for guesswork. At United Airlines, one of the tools the staff uses to ensure every step of their work is completely documented is FileMaker Pro—the award–winning database software application from FileMaker, Inc.

Overview

  • Operates approximately 3,300 domestic and international flights a day
  • Employs 46,000 people
  • Ranked No. 1 in on–time performance for domestic scheduled flights for 2009 among America's five largest global carriers

Industry

  • Aerospace/Defense
  • Travel/Hospitality
  • Medium-Large Business

Solutions

  • FileMaker Pro 11 solution includes embedded error–checking, best practices functionality, compliance checks and maintenance data for reliability analyses

Benefits

  • Saves millions when compared to mainframe database development
  • Supports compliance and safety measures
  • Enables rapid development and business improvements
  • Leverages charting in FileMaker Pro 11 to share vital business information

It's been more than two decades since we started using FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Pro Server, but they still give us so many ways to quickly and easily leverage data between departments and functions in a user–based versus centralized IT–based culture and community.

— Richard Atkinson, Senior Staff Engineer, United Airlines

Business Challenge

United Airlines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UAL Corporation, operates approximately 3,300 flights a day on United and United Express to more than 230 U.S. domestic and international destinations from its hubs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago and Washington, D.C. With key global air rights in the Asia–Pacific region, Europe and Latin America, United is one of the largest international carriers based in the United States.

At United Airlines, there's a lot more behind each flight than the landing gear lifting off the tarmac. From parts approvals and aircraft modifications to project scheduling, the global airline's maintenance and engineering departments must ensure efficient hand–offs among departments and guarantee error–checking and best practices. They must also uphold high standards for safety and quality—something United Airlines supports by adhering to Lean/6–Sigma processes.

Successful Solution

At United Airlines, FileMaker Pro has become a fundamental tool for maintenance and engineering departments as well as other support groups. For more than two decades, Richard Atkinson, senior manager for Aircraft Engineering, has relied on FileMaker Pro to create everything from simple workflow databases to major cross–department efficiency tools.

"More than 10 years ago, we needed a robust, relational, easy to develop in, easily customized, wide–area distribution database solution," says Atkinson. "FileMaker Pro has met and exceeded these requirements, and has allowed considerable end–user autonomy."

In addition to providing basic database functionality, Atkinson uses FileMaker Pro to embed error–checking and best practices functions into the company's workflow databases—all tied into legal and regulatory requirements. This includes integrating compliance checks related to process health standards and aircraft/parts changes. FileMaker Pro databases also help United Airlines leverage maintenance data to conduct reliability analyses. Atkinson relies on FileMaker Pro for these crucial business processes for several reasons, including fast development and easy customization.

"FileMaker Pro continues to provide a rapid development tool for United that is applied within work teams to capture processes and policies, and to streamline approvals for airplane parts, modifications, scheduling and more," he says. "The best thing is that FileMaker Pro permits organic, close–to–the–user development, so that our workgroups can realize improvements very quickly based on the way they work, something that almost never happens with mainframe tools. We can reach a wide audience within United, crossing departments and distances easily, without having to use intimidating or awkward interfaces—and without spending millions of dollars on development."

FileMaker Pro is fast and powerful. It is actually the most fun part of my job because it lets me enact business advancements right away!

— Richard Atkinson, Senior Staff Engineer, United Airlines

Customer Benefits

For Atkinson, the improved scripting, debugger, and data viewer tools within FileMaker Pro make it easier and faster for him to develop new solutions. He can more easily reuse pre–developed functions and capabilities among databases, and do a better, faster job of determining what and where issues may exist.

United Airlines moved to FileMaker Pro 11 in summer 2010, and Atkinson welcomed the transition. According to Atkinson, the airline is extremely interested in the charting tools to more closely support health and workflow compliance.

"We expect to use the charting tools in FileMaker Pro 11 to more simply, transparently view health and workflow data, without having to first export it to a spreadsheet," he says. "We are also looking forward to some of the query–sharing tools in FileMaker Pro 11 so that users with more knowledge and skill on the data at hand can more readily share their findings. I see a lot of potential for FileMaker Pro 11 on the immediate horizon."

Atkinson is also looking forward to new features in FileMaker Pro 11 Server, particularly server–executed scripting for file management routines and server–based emailing.

"It's been more than two decades since we started using FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Pro Server, but they still give us so many ways to quickly and easily leverage data between departments and functions in a user–based versus centralized IT–based culture and community," says Atkinson. "FileMaker Pro is fast and powerful. It is actually the most fun part of my job because it lets me enact business advancements right away!"

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker, Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com

For United Airlines:

Richard Atkinson
Senior Staff Engineer
United Airlines
650-634-5068
rich.atkinson@united.com
http://www.united.com