Resources within the technical writing department of any aviation company tend to be set at a level designed to meet “normal” writing requirements. In my experience, normal documentation requirements can be boiled down into two categories: required regulatory documentation, and “critical to quality” documentation that management considers vital to maintain and enhance the performance of the operation.
The technical documentation manager is challenged to keep staffing at a minimum level to meet that interpretation of normal while staying within or below the threshold of an ever-decreasing budget. In order to meet the requirements of Key Performance Indicators (KPI), the technical documentation manager must accommodate the difference between keeping a full time employee busy and providing quality documentation. This means they rarely find themselves with the luxury of reserve resources to meet anything more than the normal writing requirements. In this case the technical writing staff is strained to write the additional work created by Airworthiness Directives (AD’s), Reliability, and/or Fleet Campaign initiatives. To avoid layoffs the technical writing department will purposefully stay thin and triage the work coming at them.
It is within this environment that it is difficult to resolve issues related to technical documentation that plague aviation organizations. Issues like:
- manuals and engineering drawings that need to be consolidated,
- manuals and engineering drawings that could be stored and catalogued on a computer if they were digitally scanned,
- manuals and engineering drawings that could be made text searchable if they were OCR’ed,
- manuals and engineering drawings that could be cross-referenced and hyper-linked if the publishing software was used to do it,
- manuals and engineering drawings that could be made easier to use for aircraft maintenance if Aircraft Maintenance Manual Supplements and Illustrated Parts Catalog Supplements were created from them.
- and much more…
It is likely that both management and the technical writing team are aware of this current condition, but the front line Technicians, Pilots, and Ground Crews are impacted by the dilemma every day. They are the ones that have to search for the data, deal with discrepancies between instructions, and measure risks to operational readiness or safety of flight due to imprecise or confusing instructions. Their frustration does impact the operations bottom line every single day, yet the cost is hidden in “normal” operating costs (there is that word again). To repair and organize the documentation seems unreachable because we do not have the writers available to approach the task correctly and to solve these issues completely.
I propose, in order to break this circular “normal” condition, that there be a technical writer or a team of writers… a kind of “In case of emergency break glass” team, you can pull from to fit the job. A technical writer or team of writers that can listen to what you need, understand what your expectations are, and work with you to develop and execute a plan quickly and efficiently. These writers have the technical expertise to understand actual operational requirements within your work environment. They are able to write clear and precise instructions using the latest Simplified Technical English (STE) standard, within iSpec2200 or ASD S1000D requirements, and hold ISO 9001:2008(E) and AS9100C certifications. They have the actual technical qualifications and hold Commercial Pilots Licenses, Airframe and Powerplant certifications, Inspection Authorizations, and years of experience to fully understand the goals you wish to accomplish. They are both affordable and available to jump in when needed. They are vigilant against wasting time and resources that you cannot spare…
OneStrand has a leading technical document authoring team with over three decades of specialization in Aerospace and Defense. Our team has recently re-tooled to help out the aircraft operator and MRO to solve all of the issues described above. We are ready and willing to listen to you and to be your toolbox of solutions for your technical writing issues. Give us a call today, or visit our website.
Together, let’s work to address your specific needs.
John E. Nanney