Alaska Air Transit are a small charter operation based in Anchorage, Alaska. But they don't view being small as a disadvantage. For them, it's been a key enabler for providing a service that's both personable and reliable.
Alaska Air Transit have been satisfied customers of Spidertracks for the last eight years, choosing Spidertracks over the competition after deciding that the alternatives just didn't stack up.
“We wanted a tracking solution that was affordable and that eliminated expensive panel mounted options” says owner Dan Owen.
“Other alternatives didn't perform well. They had reliability problems and weren’t designed for use in aviation” .
Requiring a solution that was affordable, portable and reliable, Alaska Air Transit soon found that Spidertracks was the best solution for their business.
“With Spidertracks we liked that the aviation specific design of their products and particularly the web service. Unlike many of the competitors, Spidertracks offered two minute tracking intervals, and we’ve found the Iridium satellite network to be very reliable.”
While a reliable unit that gets the job done has been crucial for Alaska Air Transit, they have more to think about than just safety. As an on demand charter operation, schedules are variable and prone to change, says Dan.
“Occasionally we’ll have weather delays, flight itinerary changes, or passenger manifest changes to communicate.”
Such changeability often creates a headache for small operators, and traditional methods for communicating such changes is often difficult. Even satellite phones can be unreliable, especially in northern latitudes.
“Spidertracks provides a very simple solution to this problem, which is why it's been so revolutionary for our business. When you’re expecting to meet someone and they aren’t there, if you can’t communicate that it is a huge problem. With Spidertracks' two way messaging system (Spidertxt 2.0) we are able to communicate with our operations team things like cancelations or changes in schedules, or our pilots can request that info on the fly.”
It's not only internal operations people that benefit from Spidertxt 2.0., having visibility of flight details such as ETAs, expected delays or itinerary changes is a boon for customers too.
"It's reassuring for our customers to know when an aircraft is going to be there. And beyond peace of mind, it means that we can inform customers who are due to be picked up when they need to head outside, saving them from standing around waiting in -20ºF cold."
Despite the benefits new technology provides, it’s not always easy to adjust to new systems, and Alaska Air Transit's pilots were initially unsure about the idea of Spidertxt, but soon realised its value.
“At first they (the pilots) didn't see the value and there was some apprehension at first, but they didn't take long to find reassurance that if there was a problem, they could ask our operations centre for help, instead of going it alone.”
“If they need to communicate with the office for whatever reason, they can. They’ll wonder how they ever got on without it.”