DISPATCHER – GOING DIGITAL

It is actually a question and to the questioner, it is rhetoric. Where is the place of digitalisation in the context of job security?. There was this fear generally at the millennium that things would suddenly start to go out of synch since at the evolution of digital systems in the millennium outgoing then, consideration was not given to dating concerning the incoming millennium. Where aviation was concerned, it was said aircraft will suddenly be falling out of the skies right at the millennial change. It sounded warnings to stake holders worldwide that if such care was not taken, it was time to start at work to avert any disaster or short coming. This was because by then, digitalisation was taking shape very seriously in all facets of life, in government, social life and largely in such areas as aviation. About then there was a concept called”Fly by Wire”, not that conceptual anymore since digitalization has gone and it is still going viral and desirably infectious.

A major concept in going digital is that it largely reduces stress where applied. There are quite many service providers in the industry of provision of digital systems. For example, for navigational purposes, there are a hundred and one providers. You access them when you have subscribed only at a click of the key. Briefly feed in your requirements (you better be right, because you only get the result of what you feed in) and viola, at the click, you get what you desire. It is made safe because, on request, it is personalised. No interference (except by unscrupulous hackers. It is not unheard of but this very, very rarely happens). The not so complementary aspect of this is that the manual job that a number of professional staff in the organisation were attending to with results has now to be compacted to, if one is being conservative, what one personnel can probably conveniently do. Where goes the staff formally collectively on the job? In large airlines of the world, it is not unheard of a dispatcher dispatching well over 100 flights on a shift of 8 hours a day. This would have taken at least about 12 hands thereabout to do and probably with stress. It bloats the unemployment register. Work load is reduced coupled with workforce reduction. You do not even need to be at a particular seat, in as much as you have your system handy anywhere, keep working. Now you see one more thing is greatly reduced, office space. It is a win-win situation for the employer. What then is it for the dropped workforce and the prospective new entrants?

Going digital is an assurance of perfection if well designed. There are providers that have sundry and optional functions they are able to provide even at a distance. Some well established airlines have acquired all the “garbage-ins” that they not only service their internal operations, they also sell out to near or distant demands. Way back the 80s, Nigeria Airways, Nigeria’s defunct national carrier, was using such services from an Amsterdam based Airline and it was largely successful but many times on a no pay no service condition. That is another one problem with out-sourcing. That of course made staff result into the manual derivation when service was not provided. That was because they were knowledgeable in it anyway. You can be held to ransom and your work suffers. The result of the manual to the digital are quite similar but the time, stress and so on. What you feed in is contingent on what you want and so, the result brings out what you want. These days, request can even directly be made from the aircraft and the result sent directly in there still, but then there are things and clarifications to be gotten, so the Dispatcher is always at hand. The management system of virtually all aircraft is designed to pick cloud status ahead.

Danger is firstly the feeding. It better be right and again sudden changes in environmental conditions as at feeding. Worked out forecasts are the foundations of the results. Experience shows these do, but rarely, change. Flights up there could be wading in troubled waters if so. An alerted Dispatcher can quickly rectify such by quickly getting across to the flight by the so many means available to him/her. The Dispatcher’s work is not done until a flight is completed. He monitors so many parameters of the flight till completion. One of the qualities of a good Dispatcher at work is high level of alertness. Since the Dispatcher is learned on the things of flights, he/she can quickly recognize areas requiring interventions and attend to it as quickly as safe.

References can easily be made in a digital world with ease. All operations are saved. If there is a need to recall a past operation, it is easy to perform. You only need to know just one of the identifications of the operation namely, date, number, destination and so on. That can be brought forward for the reasons of study or investigation.

Once given to a provider, information about your organization becomes shared. You must be ready to loose the monopoly of knowledge of your operational information. Processing of passengers are largely digitalized these days. The service provider has access to your schedule information and even your passenger base. There are thus advantages and disadvantages but where speed and checks come to play, the advantages are more and desirable. It is like joining an association with a common goal. Once you have agreed to join and signed in, you are no more private to yourself. When mistakes are made, some service provision is designed in such a way that errors are flagged. Correction will have to be made by better hands.

Some digital systems are designed to easily interface with other functions elsewhere. Flight connections, flight movements of other airlines other than yours, position of aircraft, world weather, workings of tours, ticketing, political situations in a country, natural disasters, social media and so many more information concerning aviation. It has made the aviation world so small. I can be in a village and get to do all I need to do on my bed and it will be “bull’s eye”.

REDEFINING FEATURES OF HIGH PROFILE CORPORATE COLLAPSE

Arms-chair acquisition of technology leads to permanent vulnerability to the manipulative tendencies of those we try to copy and imitate. This approach is not a viable option for us. It creates a technology void and makes it absolutely difficult to eradicate the scourge of backwardness and operations system flaws which are omni-present in Nigeria.

I have read about many thriving airlines in and outside our sphere that suddenly went belly-up. From the pinnacle of their successes they plunged into the depth of despair and despondency and became extinct in a dramatic fashion. So this is not just a Nigerian thing but a global phenomenon. Nonetheless the Nigerian experience is absolutely terrifying and worth investigating.

AIRLINE COLLAPSE AND EXTINCTION

Take the case of ANSETT. “Founded in 1935; Ansett was Australia’s second largest airlines and ran for more than 65 years. It carried more than 14 million passengers a year and annual turn-over of more than $13 billion by the time it was placed under a new administration in 2001. Unfortunately, Ansett became the nation’s most high-profile aviation failure and one of the largest corporate collapses ever.”

Take the case of Malaysian Airline Flight MH 370. The Malaysian Airline Flight 370 was a scheduled international passenger flight operated by Malaysian Airline that disappeared on March 8, 2014. “It’s been suggested that the Malaysian Airline MH370 suffered a sudden and catastrophic loss of power that left it flying on auto-pilot until it ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean,” a report has suggested. In the same 2014 Malaysian Airline lost another aircraft Malaysian Airline Flight 17 over the disputed Eastern Ukraine territory. I am pretty sure the two accidents involving Flight 370 and Flight 17 with no survivors have send Malaysian Airline into the path of collapse.

Take the case of QANTAS (parent company, New Zealand Airline); the self acclaimed world safest airline. “They are the hugely powerful and glamorous airlines that soared into the heart of the public only to be plunged into despair and grounded forever,” said Kate Schneider.

“PanAm and TWA at one time were well known and successful airlines. PanAm Flight 1 circled the globe. TWA seemed to have been everywhere. Neither is still in operation. What happened? Many factors led to their demise but among them was the erosion of their brand. People knew their names – their brand awareness was high – but as their corporate lives ended, potential customers did not seem to associate much that was positive with them. As the airline descended into failure they had less cash available and on and on ended up in a vicious spiral,” said Don Sexton.

In Nigeria alone more than one hundred-plus airlines have collapsed and sank permanently into the abyss in the past four decades. Expectedly they are those in the conundrum due to inability to break even. A list of dramatic business failures would be incomplete without a mention of the infamous Nigeria Airways Limited (NAL).

Every now and then, so it seems to me, a new airline or rebranded extinct airline makes a debut in the unchartered terrain of Nigerian airline business and opens its doors to air travelers. This is usually welcomed with excitement and great fanfare by the traveling public because it portends tangible potential for everything good. At face value, it seemed like a significant growth by all standards in comparison with other countries in the region.

Of course it ought to foster marginal economic growth under normal circumstances, especially when such airline has soared deep into the hearts of the traveling public and won their patronage in the first few years of operation, until you come to the realization that roughly two or three ailing airlines, within the same period, had received the death knell and packed-up.

I must confess that most airlines that had existed in Nigeria actually brought glamour to air travel. At birth they roared into the sky and soared into the heart of the public, only to plunge into despair, grounded for ever and shutdown their doors permanently less than five years of operation.  Obviously they seemed to have come under vicious attack by the same virus that had plagued older generation airlines and plunged them into the abyss permanently. High profile corporate collapse of this magnitude produces enormous pain and hardship to hundreds of thousands of families.

Starting an airline business may be easy if one has all it takes to do so but making it successful is the hard part because the intricacies are terribly complicated and the industry is heavily regulated. Most businesses collapse and shut down due to predictable reasons. Owners retire or declare bankruptcy and hop onto something else unmindful of the pain inflicted on those whose lives have been permanently destroyed by the demise. Companies fade away or sold to competitors and former CEOs move on with life unaffected by the demise of the once glamorous airline.

While ruminating on this development, it struck me that running any business follows the natural cycle of birth and death. Businesses expire and rapidly descend into failure.

What intrigued me to investigate the matter was the viciousness of the virus attack on airline business in Nigeria. How long shall we watch airlines fade away into oblivion without a blink? How should this freefall be checked?  (CONCLUDED)