Software Developer Spends $1 Million to Solve Flight Schools’ Biggest Problem

November 15, 2017
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In light of the much-discussed pilot shortage, flight schools play a more important role than ever.

While flight schools have always been the means by which future aviators realize their dreams, they have always carried a heavy responsibility with a light budget. But in recent years, schools have had a more crucial role than ever - they provide graduates to the airlines, the charter organizations, freight operations and tourism industries as safe, reliable pilots.

According to AOPA and General Aviation News, 80% of student pilots drop out of training each year before earning their pilot rating.

There’s a Pilot Shortage - and an 80% Dropout Rate

Retaining students is a huge problem for flight schools, and solving that problem has been a huge priority for Jasen Barnes and his team of software developers at Flight Schedule Pro.

According to a Bold Method article, the most common reasons students drop out include lack of structured training, finances, medical problems, poor flight instruction, checkride failures, not setting clear goals, killing the fun of flying, the "solo plateau," and finding that flying is more work than anticipated.

Many of the problems highlighted by the article are intertwined. Flight students who feel that their program lacks structure may not continue because they don’t feel prepared for their next upcoming lesson, or see how much they have progressed over the last week or month. This may also impact their ability to pass checkrides, plan the finances to finish their program, or see their way out of a plateau.

Flight Schedule Pro’s V4 edition promises to solve several of these problems by helping flight schools provide “less friction, and more flying.” While the software can’t help students come up with the cash for their training, it can certainly help with items 1, 4, 6, 7 and 8 on BoldMethod’s list by making the instruction program and progress more visible and enhancing communication between the student and instructor.

“V4 is the first rollout of Student Training product, which promotes better student retention through improved communication and connectedness throughout the school.” Said Barnes, noting that the team has envisioned additional improvements centered around the goal of student retention. “I’m excited to bring the recent technology and research advancements about ease of use, social interaction and acknowledgement, and motivation to better serve flight schools.”

The improvements to the software include a new schedule layout that is color-coded, drag-and-drop, more informative, and seamlessly integrated with training management and flight recording. It is also easier to use with mobile devices that are popular with students.

Sky-High Customer Service Expectations

Students have high expectations of the customer service and technology used by any company they do business with, and the decision to begin (or continue) with a flight school may depend on how effectively the organization meets those expectations.

Customer Experience Insight magazine notes that since 2016, customers expect more personalization, more options, consistent contact, and control of the experience.

While customers see these improvements reflected quickly in their banking, ride-sharing and even college or university software, changes can be harder to implement in the heavily regulated aviation industry. Including more functionality, serving more and different customers, making the system more reliable, and simplifying the interface are all difficult problems individually. Doing all of these things at the same time adds exponentially to the challenge.

Apple designer Jony Ive explained the technology development problem this way - “Different and new is relatively easy. Doing something that's genuinely better is actually very hard.”

Barnes and his team at Flight Schedule Pro spent the last three years listening to customers and building the ideal platform for the industry’s leading flight schools.

“Less Friction and More Flying”

Bountiful Flight Center, a busy flight school in Utah, has been a customer of Flight Schedule Pro for two years, and has upgraded to the latest version. Instructors and administrators enjoy many of the benefits, but students are the focus of their efforts.

“(Prior to implementing Flight Schedule Pro) We had tried multiple free scheduling systems, but found them restrictive, archaic, and counterintuitive, especially when compared to Flight Schedule Pro. The leading edge features and all-inclusive services have secured our loyalty and we are eager for their services to continue to expand, further relieving our students, instructors, and administrators,” said Derek Young, Chief Flight Instructor at Bountiful Flight Center.

“Flight Schedule Pro allows our school to be a paperless one-stop-shop, which makes life easy for our students. Scheduling is easy and intuitive, billing is hassle-free, and monitoring their own flight training keeps students informed and motivated. Students deserve to be well-informed, so when students are in control of their own training through Flight Schedule Pro's scheduling, billing, flight training, and maintenance features, motivation stays high and so does our retention/graduation rate,” he adds.

Jason Clark, the manager of Bountiful Flight Center noted, “We have the highest graduation rate of any flight school in Utah. The number one reason students don’t complete is money, but we have a strong financing program. The structure of Flight Schedule Pro also really helps us be more professional so students can see how far they’ve come and what’s up next. “

Warren Benson, Chief Instructor at the Flying Tigers Flight School in Houston, Texas, agrees. “I have reports that they really like to see their progress bar moving forward (probably helps with retention).”

He also likes how communication is improved between students and flight instructors. “(Students) can also easily see their upcoming lesson from home and come prepared for each of the tasks. They like the various grading levels that are available also, rather than just being satisfactory or unsatisfactory.” He said. Everyone is happy with FSP's ease of use. It really takes a short amount of time to log each lesson and to review overall progress.”

To further reduce “friction” for students and schools, the new version of Flight Schedule Pro includes additional billing options for memberships and recurring billing.

About Flight Schedule Pro

Flight Schedule Pro is the industry’s leading online scheduling and business management system for Flight Schools. A wide range of general aviation and military aviation organizations use Flight Schedule Pro to manage their flight operations online.

Flight Schedule Pro V4 includes drag and drop resource scheduling for flight schools, including aircraft, instructors, equipment, and students. It accommodates pilot documents, including certificates, licenses, and TSA. Aircraft maintenance logging, training program management, billing, point of sale, and QuickBooks integration are all included in a desktop and mobile-friendly platform.

SOURCE: Press Advantage [Link]

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