The UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority sits at the centre of one of this country’s most important strategic verticals. Responsible for the navigation, safety and international services of aviation activity, the GCAA needed a centralised reporting tool and mobile app to connect airlines, pilots and engineers.
The aviation industry stands as a crucial pillar in this country’s plan to be sustainable in the long-term. Home to two of the Gulf’s ‘big three’ carriers – Emirates and Etihad Airways – the UAE has long made clear its desire to be a hub for transit and tourism. The Government of Dubai has even gone as far as estimating that aviation will contribute 32 percent of the emirate’s GDP by 2020.
In order for these lofty ambitions to be realised, a streamlined administration and governance organisation must sit at the heart of the operation. Enter the General Civil Aviation Authority. The GCAA is responsible for formulating and disseminating general policy for civil aviation, as well as proposing laws and regulations for the industry. Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, it is the sole authority to control and regulate civil aviation in the UAE, and is responsible for the provision of air navigation services and all aspects of flight safety in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation standards and best practices. GCAA is responsible for the UAE’s security affairs, air navigation services, strategy and international affairs.
“GCAA’s aim is to lead a safe and secure civil aviation system,” Omar Bin Ghaleb, Deputy Director General and Head of Support Services, GCAA, says. “To cater to this objective, the IT department at GCAA is dedicated to delivering advanced technology and services to internal and external stakeholders. The IT department’s aims centre around the simplification of services offered to its customers as well as for the Authority’s internal operations.”
In a drive to understand how it could better meet stakeholder and customer requirements, the IT team conducted a study in partnership with its various business units. They identified an array of challenges that operational teams faced, including tasks like the reporting of safety and security incidents and documenting accidents with photographic evidence. In addition, large numbers of staff desired improved access to an array of information, including mission-critical procedures, regulations, directives and information bulletins. Access to this information is required 24/7, meaning the IT department would need to provide an available and secure solution.
Furthermore, with the Authority staff who were responsible for verifying the submissions and responding to requests often busy conducting business outside of UAE soil, responses and approvals could often be delayed. As such, a solution that could be remotely accessed would be essential.
Bin Ghaleb and the IT team also identified that its array of mobile ecosystems was fragmented and not unified across platforms. Some apps were available on certain platforms while others were exclusive to platforms as a result of features that were unique to an operating system. Accessing the maximum possible audience with any development would be key.
“We want to standardise, modernise and mobilise IT services of the Authority to empower GCAA staff to meet strategic objectives and commit to the highest standards of excellence,” Bin Ghaleb says. “In order to do this, we have to ensure the maximum utilisation of resources to enhance efficiency and productivity.”
To cater to GCAA’s demands, the IT department developed its centralised reporting tool Reporting of Safety Incident (ROSI). GCAA and its customers would need to use ROSI to report safety incidents to the Authority on a timely basis. This would need to provide efficient and effective regulatory responses and answers to technical enquiries, and would need to facilitate regulatory investigations when necessary, and provide analysis of the data for safety promotion.
Bin Ghaleb and the IT staff also began the development of a smart application that could provide real-time information to a host of its key stakeholders in the UAE and around the globe. Named SAMAE – ‘my sky’ in Arabic – the GCAA IT team developed an application across iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows operating systems.
The implementation of ROSI has provided huge assistance to the GCAA in terms of the process of managing risk, replacing the previous mandatory occurrences/defect report and aviation safety report processes.
“The data collected through ROSI assists in the timely identification of hazards and helps to correct or take proper measures as per the level of risks,” Bin Ghaleb says. ROSI has been integrated with multiple systems and applications, including the Authority’s internal portal, Exchange messaging and collaboration and Active Directory. Once an incident is filed in the system, the ROSI file is automatically assigned to a user group who then route it to the concerned inspector.
The SAMAE application, meanwhile, provides “fast and smart” services to a range of stakeholders interacting with the organisation, including airlines, airports pilots, engineers and air traffic controllers. “This has greatly simplified the service procedure by providing services anywhere, anytime and allowing customers to take full advantage of mobile technology, yet maintaining the required standard of safety and security,” Bin Ghaleb says.
Following the projects, GCAA has now completed an automation level of “100 percent” of its services. “This has been a huge value-add to us, promoting process efficiency and reducing cost,” Bin Ghaleb says. “Introducing cloud computing across the enterprise in our deployment of SAMAE will greatly increase our productivity. Allowing end-users to access data remotely – anywhere and anytime – has been a fantastic time and cost saver.”
Looking forward, the changes stand to bring greater transparency and communication to the organisation. This is sure to enhance on-the-ground operations in the UAE’s airports, as well as increasing safety levels for passengers, and reducing international security risks via a faster reporting tool.
GCAA’s IT department has gone on to be recognised by the Sheikh Khalifa Government Excellence Program as the best Federal Department and a leader in e-Service implementation.