Re-thinking the CMS for airline e-learning
Built with pilots in mind, Tailwind delivers mobile compliance training for the aviation industry. Drawing from years of experience developing e-learning tools for enterprises, Seb Azzo set the objective of creating a CMS specifically for trainers — research played a big part.
The airline business is going through a digital revolution, and for pilots, going paperless meant doing without the trusted map binders and inflight guidelines that are carried into the cockpit on every flight. More importantly for business, it means less physical classroom sessions, which leads to less operational disruption and scheduling headaches. One solution brought about these two changes.
We started off by developing it based on the requirements of major airlines, working closely with the training team and their pilots to isolate pain points and prioritise key features. At the heart of the solution was the user-friendly yet robust CMS which is responsible for creating courses and tests. The result was twofold: A brilliant experience for trainers managing sessions, and a way with which pilots can remain compliant and fly commercial jets.
Tailwind was made with a group of airlines in mind that were to become early adopters of he product. Having access to pilots and cabin crew informed us about opportunities and desired outcomes very early on in the process. We took the time to become familiar with trainers, compliance training processes and the pilots themselves through workshops and focus groups. The specific requirements and features we designed and built into tailwind were a direct result of the common outcomes airlines desire to achieve from their ongoing training efforts, which are traditionally classroom based, expensive and logistically challenging to organise.
Idea validation and usability testing was carried out with pilots and cabin crews of a major airline. To this day, we receive feedback and iterate to achieve a user experience flow which is ideal for the audience in question — as we like to say, software is never finished, only abandoned.
As with every system we build, Tailwind is a self administered experience, meaning customers of Tailwind can manage and maintain their sessions and assessments from an admin area. A trainer can log in to the powerful Tailwind content manager to create and manage any kind of content and tests they require, based on the current training needs. This content can include video, audio, text and image. Customers can drag and drop content, assign it to different categories and use a handy draft feature to finish content later.
We aim to operate in a lean and agile way, this means products are produced as fast and efficiently as possible. With this approach, we focus on a few essential feature and build them to a very high degree of quality. To achieve this with Tailwind, we used Phonegap. This allowed us to build this and many other products very quickly (when compared to building natively for iOS or Android). With Tailwind, we can iterate and ship features in days rather than weeks.
Tailwind is a learning experience for pilots and cabin crews. This kind of workforce operates in offline mode for most of their career: on planes at 30,000 feet means little or no access to wifi internet. We designed Tailwind to work anywhere, simply by allowing users to sync and download all courses and content to their tablet device any time before boarding a flight. If they complete courses and tests in their downtime, the system will sync results and progress to the servers right after landing, when users are connected to the internet.
The training app is packed with useful but essential features. Tailwind allows trainers to take the experience on on-site sessions like fire training or flight simulations. An open book feature helps guide pilots around challenging topics while they complete a test. The app also records and organises performance metrics in reports for trainers and managers to analyse after courses have been completed. This kind of real time information assists the airline to take timely corrective action.
Seb Azzo plays a key role in the training of our global staff. Together, we launched several e-learning solutions across 94 countries and a 400,000 strong workforce.