Scott International Procedures (IPC) has released the Scott Plot ePlotting Chart app, which went live on the Apple App Store last Friday. The app is designed to facilitate oceanic crossings, but it is also designed to be a key part of Scott IPC’s international procedures training and tools that the company offers to help customers flying overseas.
Pilots and dispatchers can use Scott Plot to set up international flights by creating a Journey Log that includes all the information related to the trip and the flight plan, including weather, Notams, and charts. Scott Plot can accept flight plan formats from any provider.
“Three years ago we had the concept for an electronic plotting chart,” said Shawn Scott, who founded the company with his wife Amy. Given the extensive international operations training his company provides, he added, “We have a good feel for what’s needed in the cockpit. We wanted to make sure the user interface was as close as possible as what pilots are used to with paper planning. But there is no safety degradation.”
The software walks the user through each step of the planning process automatically, based on Scott IPC’s checklist and its International Cockpit Reference Handbook (ICRH) as well as FAA Advisory Circular 91-70B recommendations and the guidance in NAT Ops Bulletins. Users can also store any other documents in Scott Plot.
Once the flight plan is pulled into Scott IPC, the pilot can build the route, starting with setting coast-out and -in points. If the user has questions at any point, they can open the ICRH for that particular phase of flight.
The next step is plotting equal time points (ETPs), which is done based on the flight plan. Scott IPC will identify any discrepancies, such as upper-level winds in a different direction than the winds for the ETP scenarios. “We identify that and automatically build the ETPs,” said Scott.
Scott Plot prompts the user to set oceanic flight reminders, such as prior to coast-out, waypoint passage, 10-minute checks, nearing a flight information region, etc.
Once in the air, pilots can use Scott Plot to manage the overseas trip, and the software keeps a record of the flight in the Journey Log. “If it is a flight for the record, you need a Journey Logbook if you’re operating more than 12 miles off the coast,” said Phil Tyler, director of business development. “This builds the log and posts it with the master document and delivers it via different formats.”
The software facilitates normal and emergency procedures, including strategic offsets, diversions, equipment failures, and other contingencies. In aircraft where the app can use GPS information from the avionics via Wi-Fi equipment, if there is a GPS sensor failure, the app will mark that with a timestamp for post-flight investigation. Another timestamp is recorded when the GPS information returns, and this is all included in the Journey Logbook.
As the aircraft flies the trip, the track flown is shown with breadcrumbs. The app includes all waypoints, airways, and Blue Spruce routes in the navigation database and notes associated with those routes, which can be helpful in case of a reroute. The user can also annotate the plotting chart (or any other document), and these written notes are saved in the Journey Logbook.
A complicated process that causes a lot of errors in overseas flying is rerouting after a flight plan change from controllers. “We wanted to make it simple and user friendly,” said Scott. All a pilot has to do with Scott Plot is tap and hold the new waypoint and then add it to the route. The Journey Log retains the old and new routes. Scott Plot asks if this new waypoint should be added to the route, then helps the user build new ETPs for the new routing. The process isn’t completely automatic, however. “Our philosophy is to stay engaged in the process,” he said. “If everything is loaded automatically, you just lost a ton of situational awareness. This allows us to set it up but also to verify. It gives maximum situational awareness.”
“Our goal is not to take a paper process and digitize it,” said Tyler. “The features, structure, and chronology are based on how our company trains for actual plotting. There are a lot of features that are what we consider higher level, but it’s what we train our pilots to do to have proper situational awareness.”
In keeping with Scott IPC’s training goals, the company is planning three levels of training, in addition to a detailed user’s guide and frequently asked questions section. The first training level is a series of short videos in the app that are function-specific, so a user can brush up on a topic before a trip. The next is the ability to build scenarios based on contingencies, for example, dealing with a GPS sensor failure. Finally, the app includes a simulation mode, which allows users to pre-fly a trip while on the ground. “This allows the app to believe it’s flying so you can see and practice real-time what would happen in the air,” Tyler said.
“This is valuable for new and experienced pilots,” said Scott. “It keeps them from getting complacent. What we’re seeing is people with automation and CPDLC and FANS, they’re not modifying their standard operating procedures along with the new technology. We’re a training company and always have been. We train using scenarios for contingencies. You’re subscribing to all the training, and the Scott Plot plotting chart is gravy on top of that.”
“We have people all over the spectrum on plotting,” Tyler said. “Some don’t do it, some do the bare minimum, and some want to be as safe and cognizant of the situation as possible. Those are people that we train and will look to provide the training and the new tool.”
“People who don’t think it’s important to plot, [it goes] back to their training,” said Scott. “Nobody is going through scenarios with them. That pilot-in-command is supposed to know more about that flight than anybody. Those who don’t follow the procedures are not trained properly. Training is going to elevate the usage of best practices.”