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Flying start for software

Business is taking off across the Tasman of Adelaide scanning specialist Practical Programs after its DataViewer software helped turn half a tonne of technical drawings into a briefcase full of CDs for the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

Practical Programs was enlisted to improve the usability of RNZAF's aircraft engineering drawings, recently converted to electronic form. The company tailored DataViewer to enable the thousands of electronic drawings to be viewed from standard computers, a function previously not available.

DataViewer has extended the RNZAF's ability to support and maintain aircraft through dramatically improved retrieval, storage and usability of this sensitive and complex information. Previously, each aircraft type had only one set of engineering drawings held on aperture cards, which were not permitted to leave the base, making off-site maintenance difficult.

RNZAF Flight Sergeant Paul Taylor, who was in charge of the DataViewer project, said the software had improved off-site maintenance of the fleet by providing technicians with instant access to engineering drawings that were previously unavailable. "This has made a big difference for example the Iroguols helicopters currently in service in East Timer can be more easily services on site without costly and inefficient communication with the base in New Zealand," he said.

Practical Programs developed its DataViewer software with assistance from South Australian IT&T industry growth initiative Playford Centre, which included funding for research and development, product development and export assistance through its export program.

Practical Programs' Managing Director Richard Bates said Playford Centre's assistance had contributed to the company's success. "Playford Centre's funding was valuable as it helped prepare the company for the next stage of growth which we're currently experiencing," he said.

Practical Programs also recently won the contract to implement a business document management solution for Air Services Australia, beating several multinational companies in the process.

Flight Sergeant Taylor said DataViewer had commercial application within the civil aviation industry as a result of its customisation to meet the RNZAF requirements.

"A lot of maintenance is outsourced, so non-Air Force personnel can now have easier access to this information also," he said.


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