In aviation there is understandably a lot of regulation for safety and continued airworthiness of aircraft and airport infrastructure. This is also true for helicopter operations; over the years many helipads have been created globally both privately and commercially. This growth continues to cover the demand by government agencies, increased number higher net worth individuals or people spending money on luxury travel and hotels. The growth will dramatically accelerate when Urban Air Mobility becomes a reality.
The private/corporate helicopter market is booming, which allow new mobility planning and reservation solutions to excel. Existing solutions focus mostly on alternative modes of transport, they however do not succeed very well in this market due to the local demography’s attitude; helicopters in for example Dubai are as common as cars are in any EU member state. Hence, the helicopter is the preferred method of transport in many cases.
Helicopters for commercial and business operations can however only land at recognised and airworthiness authority approved helipad locations. There are many facets to operating a helipad, many of those establishing helipads do not recognise the demanding needs of the airworthiness authorities and the complexity of their operations yet they need them for their business.
Growth combined with unawareness in the operators puts tremendous strain of the resources at all aspects of helicopter operations. Resulting in many helipads being unregistered, uncertified or just a lack of awareness of their existence, availability and certification status for pilots and tour operators. This unstructured situation causes a lot of inefficiency in all areas of helicopter operations.
Lack of oversight and need to regularly certify necessitates a lot of staff the authorities do not have. Resulting in a lack of clear certified data being available for pilots to review for their flight planning.
Extra efforts to operate the helipad, often resulting in an underutilised asset, which is key for them to get high paying hotel guests to stay or enjoy their facilities.
Harder process to book and confirm the destination for end customers to visit or stay at the desired location. In addition, several layers for billing before able to receive the payments from the end customer mean increased potential of delayed payments.
Pilots / Pilot organisations
Complex process to make flight plans as they need to have access to information from all the above stakeholders in terms of helipad certification, approach and departure details of the helipad, parking spaces (capacity of the helipad), services available at the helipad for helicopter operations, finally then releasing a confirmed flight plan to Air Traffic control.
Unified International has therefore developed WHIRLY, a responsive web-based solution that fulfils the needs of all parties; customers, helicopter operators, pilots and helipad owners.
WHIRLY helps to prevent unnecessary surprises and saves time by planning a flight in advance at any time of the day. When making a reservation, WHIRLY immediately shows the best time for carrying out the flight.
Similar to solutions from different sectors, like booking.com, WHIRLY provides a go to one stop shop solution that connects helicopter operators with stakeholders, facilitating all aspects of planning a flight. Planning, changing, or cancelling flights will be adjustable up to an hour before take-off. WHIRLY reduces the complexity of planning processes significantly. Ultimately, the Pilots, Airports and other stakeholders will benefit:
Pilots: ease of use, one point of use for all data about the airport such as approach ICAO related certifications, information, weather etc as well and making bookings for landing & necessary services.
Airports: Lower costs to provide accurate information and handle bookings, which has seen an increase in airport users. Additional benefit to capture other revenue streams by means of the app e.g., advertising.
Other stakeholders: Additional revenue at low additional acquisition costs
WHIRLY: Worldwide Helipad Insight Reservation and Location Yielder. With Whirly, the complexity of the process as described in the previous scheme will be reduced to the following scheme:
WHIRLY provides all the data and needs of the stakeholders: airworthiness authorities, helipad owners and operators, helicopter services providers and pilots can all connect, find their needed information, and book/pay all in one environment.
The solution is a cloud-based crossover between a dynamic capacity allocation system and a headless e-commerce platform, fully integrated into an easy to use front-end which is specifically tailored for the UAE helicopter market. The capacity allocation functionality is based on a unique algorithm which predicts the expected resource utilization using flexible parameters, such that end users will always have the most accurate information on the availability of helipads.
The software is built using state-of-the-art Amazon Web Services (AWS) technologies that are scalable, reliable, secure, and GDPR-compliant. In addition to this, a fully functional compliance tooling will be bundled that brings all compliance and safety related information into one centrally accessible database, to help helipad operators ensure that they meet the latest standards.