Low-cost software used to train up Aer Lingus pilots


AER LINGUS has implemented an online training system based on open source software that will allow the company to keep its pilots’ skills up to date at low cost.

Called Ground School, the system manages the annual training courses that Aer Lingus’s 500 pilots must take to comply with EU aviation regulations.

Delivering the course over the internet allows Aer Lingus to save money on trainers and related course fees.

Pilots can access the course from any location in the world and the software reports on their progress. Previously they had to attend training in a classroom.

The airline chose Moodle, a free and open source e-learning management platform, which made the project considerably cheaper than it would have cost with commercial software.

Enovation Solutions, a Dublin-based open source consultancy firm, modified elements of the Moodle platform to include Aer Lingus’s courseware, which includes simulator training with procedural and aircraft operation training.

The company also integrated the e-learning software with Aer Lingus’s existing IT systems to report on the number of pilots who successfully passed the exam.

The project ran from September last year until March, and included a proof of concept stage, software development, and consultancy on transferring course materials such as video footage into the new system.

Almost all of the company’s pilots have since completed the course online. According to Aer Lingus’s training captain, Conor Rock, they adapted easily to using the new system. “Moodle has been universally well received by the pilots and we have reduced our training costs,” he said.

Mr Rock said the open source software had “obvious potential” in other areas of the company.

“I see Aer Lingus expanding Moodle to the wider employee base for cabin crew and technical training,” he said.

Traditionally, many businesses have been reluctant to use open source software because of perceived issues around the quality of technical support but that is no longer the case, said Liam Ryan, solutions consultant with Enovation.

“Corporates are looking at this as a genuine contender against proprietary products,” he said. “Open source software is becoming increasingly popular in a range of sectors such as legal, insurance and Government.”