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Practical solution keeps aircraft safe

Business is brisk for SA-based Practical Programs.

The scanning specialist's DataViewer software is being used to provide up-to-date engineering drawings that dramatically improve the safety of the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

DataViewer can turn have a tonne of technical drawings into a briefcase full of CDs, and provide CD keys that automatically update an entire database of drawings.

The result is increased efficiencies in off-site maintenance and support for a fleet that includes RNZAF's Iroquols helicopters, currently in service in East Timor.

Before the DataViewer implementation, each aircraft type had only one set of engineering drawings, held on aperture cards.

For security reasons, the cards containing this sensitive and complex information were not permitted to leave the base, making off-site aircraft maintenance difficult.

The new system let Air Force personnel view thousands of electronic drawings using just a standard computer, RNZAF DataViewer project leader Flight Sergeant Paul Taylor said.

?For aircraft flying into East Timor they don't have the infrastructure to hook up to a high-bandwidth connection and view the latest documentation over a secure internet connection." he said.

?The alternative is costly, inefficient communication with the base in New Zealand.

"A lot of maintenance is outsourced, so non-Air Force personnel can also now have easier access to the correct information for maintenance."

The customisation needed to meet the RNZAF requirements had expanded the commercial applications of DataViewer within the civil aviation and other industries, managing director Richard Bates said.
" There's a requirement in a lot of industries to manage documents in areas where people don't have internet access, such as industrial environments, crop planes or commercial aircraft - anywhere people don't have access to a phone line," he said.

"Planes are constantly being modified.

"Some airlines employ full-time staff just keeping manuals up to date with the latest modifications.

"Without every tiny detail, a technician could be working without the correct knowledge.

"DataViewer makes sure that even without an internet connection, they're viewing the latest version."

The project follows a string of successes for Practical Programs, which recently outclassed several multinational companies to win a $100,000 contract to implement a business document management solution for Air Services Australia.

Development of DataViewer has been backed by SA IT&T industry incubator Playford Centre, which provided a $160,000 venture capital package that included funding for research and product development, as well as export assistance.

The company is now seeking further investment for its push offshore, which so far includes 19 European distributors in countries such as the UK, France, Germany and Spain, translating its software into several other languages, and exhibiting at the next CeBIT expo/

?More then 700 DataViewer licenses are currently installed in Australia and New Zealand and we are anticipating increased demand for our services in line with industry projections," Mr Bates said.

Gertner expects the desktop market to grow by 23 percent to $US700 million ($1.3 billion) by 2003.


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