Airline safety software

JULY 2010

From the world’s largest corporate airline fleet in the Middle East to a Brazilian low-cost carrier, a Brisbane aviation safety company expects to double its client base by late-2011. International Safety Systems (ISS) commercial director David Rickward says his software is lifting off worldwide.

FOR a two-man company, International Safety Systems has a significant spread of business, from Saudi Arabia to two deals under negotiation in the US and Brazil.

Five years ago Rickward went on a road show through Australia and the Middle East to talk with airlines large and small, presenting data capturing software that had already been five years in the making.

After positive feedback that required product tweaking, he went back to the drawing board with business partner Glen Eastlake.

“The core of the software was good but it still needed a bit of changing, so we sat down and Glen went about re-designing the software, which took about a year – he’s done about 87,000 lines of code,” says Rickward.

The result is an aviation safety software service that captures safety-related data for airlines after the sort of day-to-day hiccups that aren’t life-threatening, but can still cause problems.

“It may be that an aircraft gets too close to another aircraft or that someone falls over on a flight. It’s not about life threatening events, but just the day-to-day things, like if a bag gets lost or run over on the tarmac,” explains Rickward.

“The thing that makes us stand out from the crowd at the moment is our functionality, our task management and tracking tools, and our ability to data mine and analyse data, which is a lot more advanced than current legacy systems.”

The software is stealing market share from world leaders, including New Zealand-based Superstructure Group. It has taken just four years to get the product to the world stage.

“The first 18 months were really just in Australia, mostly with medium size airlines and a number of smaller carriers, a couple of corporate operators, and private jet fleets, before we had a couple of clients in Papua New Guinea who started off as referrals,” says Rickward.

“That led us to present at the Gulf Flight Safety Committee, which is a collaboration of Middle Eastern airlines and we got half a dozen clients out of that, which went on to us recently appointing a reseller in Europe as well as another in India.”

About 25 per cent of ISS’ work is international, but Rickward expects that to change.

“In 12 months it will probably be 50-50 international and domestic, and in two years it will probably be down less to about 30 per cent domestic,” he says.

“At the moment we’ve got 32 clients and we’re targeting at the end of next year 60 to 70, at which point our business would be self-sustainable.”

ISS is on the cusp of a multi-continental deal with a US-based missionary group, as well as Brazil’s equivalent to Virgin Blue, TRIP Airlines. The company is also in negotiations with several other international low-cost carriers but Rickward is reluctant to reveal names due to commercial confidence.

The company’s biggest client services the oil and gas industry in the Middle East and has more planes than Virgin Blue’s entire fleet, while closer to home ISS services a local company that flies transfers to Afghanistan.

“What I can say is that we’ve got six clients in the Middle East so that’s about $50,000 annually, and we’ve got three more deals coming in the next few months so that should take it up to $100,000,” says Rickward.

“We’re looking at revenue close to a quarter of a million in the next six months. Despite the global airline industry being so large, the people who do the safety side are a fairly small community, so everything’s word-of-mouth, and because we’re a small company we’re able to offer high levels of service.”

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