How we challenged the aviation software leader and turned a successful project into a long-lasting partnership.
This is the story where we prove that Python can fly. In just three months Order Group team built an MVP of an app competing with Boeing's Jeppsen Aviator. With time we transformed it to a top-notch commercial Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) solution used by civilian pilots and air force cadets and instructors. This achievement opened a strategic partnership with our client AP-TECH that has already led to creating three different innovative and advanced aviation market products.
Clear AirSpace® app is auxiliary navigation used by Polish Medical Air Rescue and Polish Air Force University pilots. The product competes with Jeppsen Aviator owned by Boeing. AP-TECH has already sold several hundreds of licenses and received inquiries from companies and organizations from Europe and America.
The second product we built with AP-TECH is ATOS™ - a system that can move autonomously on airfields and verify if there are any obstacles to the aircraft movement. The system helped Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport meet CAT III weather minima requirements, and become a go-to landing spot in the region in case of bad weather conditions.
The third product created under Order Group and AP-TECH partnership - HRESS™ - is a helipad and heliport limitation surface scanning and monitoring system. It helps businesses and institutions - such as hospitals - find the right place to land, as well as gives the pilots information on the current helipad availability, which is a life-saving innovation for the medical air rescue teams.
Since the successful launch of Clear AirSpace® the two companies have made seven projects together.
AP-TECH offers a unique combination of a consulting, design and software development services for the aviation industry, especially airports. Their main business profile is to provide complex service for the aviation market.
In summer 2016 AP-TECH offered us a challenging project. They knew the airline industry, we were experts in Python and Django, system architecture, and integration of the best software development tools available. We were also enthusiastic and trusted our skills and experience to build a very complex system in a very short time.
The task was to build from scratch an alternative to Boeing's Jeppesen Aviator, an auxiliary navigation tool for pilots. The time frame was extremely tight. We had to deliver a functional Most Viable Product (MVP) in just three months. The app was supposed to show the best airplane route from point A to point B.
It may seem easy. If you are new to aviation you may think it's just drawing a straight line. Actually, it's much more complicated than a standard 2D car navigation. First, it works in three dimensions, second, there are no standard roads, but countless obstacles and dynamic areas where planes should or simply cannot fly.
We got down to it and delivered the MVP. Our first version of Clear AirSpace® app wasn't perfect but it worked and delivered value to pilots. Since we met the deadline, the project gained business traction, and we could work over the next months to improve. With time we created our own map rendering engine. Since we didn't use external map provider the app worked much faster than the benchmarks.
Clear AirSpace® is a swiss army knife for pilots. The essential Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) tools in one app. Aircraft pilots are obliged to have with them printed aeronautical charts (route manual, flight checklists, logbooks and weather information) and have to be trained to know how to use them. However, it's much more handy for them to use our solution. It has all the most important features, such as approach plates (instructions on how to land) for every airport in Europe, as well as advanced weather modules.
Clear AirSpace® is a mobile application for IOS and Windows devices available in AppStore and Microsoft Store. It serves as a navigation aid for both helicopter and airplane pilots during all kinds of flight operations. In contrast to other navigation apps, Clear AirSpace® puts a special emphasis on the individual needs of specialized aviation institutions like medical rescue, transport companies, or private carriers.
Clear AirSpace® allows users to add their own elements to the map, upload specialized databases and documentation, as well as send private notifications and messages to all pilots within the organization. This creates quite a challenging problem for our system since produces very large sets of data, but our Python solutions hand it very well, and the experience we gain developing Clear AirSpace® create a competitive advantage for our software.
Despite the complex backend behind the Clear AirSpace® app, the interface is quite simple. A pilot sets a departure and destination points, and the app analyzes the data and calculates the best route.
The stack we used for the app is - PYTHON, Django, C# / Xamarin, C++, Java. We used PYTHON and Django to build the backend. We built the rest API where data is gathered and stored Python and later integrated with many other systems. The app itself is built with Xamarin.
From the business point of view, Clear AriSpace proved to be a great success. "So far we have done seven projects together. Three of them were about customizing Clear Airspace for three different clients," says Samer Bou Habib, CTO and Head of R&D at AP-TECH.
The application was first used by Polish Medical Air Rescue pilots and the elite Polish Air Force University in Deblin cadets and instructors. We are very proud that since November 2018 it is also implemented by Polish Airforce, and used by F-16 pilots.
"We draw interest from many organizations in Europe and America. Our ambition is to deliver it to all aviation units - military, police, border patrol, medical. We have received more than a proof of concept, and are quite confident that the app has global potential", says Samer Bou Habib.
This was our first advanced software development project for the aircraft industry. Since then thanks to our strategic partnership with AP-TECH we got to know the arcane of flying and become experts in aviation solutions. Since our first project, we have developed together with a number of advanced aviation products - ATOS™ helped Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport become the go-to landing spot in the region in case of bad weather, and HRESS™ helps helicopters carrying critically injured patients find a landing spot.