Air rescue and transport service uses Office 365 to help save lives

Today's post was written by Gerold Biner, Chief Executive Officer and Pilot, Air Zermatt.

Somebody asked me the other day why we chose Microsoft Office 365 for our business. It didn’t take me very long to give my one-word answer: savings. Office 365 helps us save a substantial amount of money and time. It also helps us save lives. Let me explain.

About 20 percent of what we do each year involves alpine rescue missions. In fact, Air Zermatt holds the record for the highest-elevation air rescue in history—23,000 feet. Obviously, to perform these daring missions, our pilots and crews need to have amazing skill and years of training. But they also need to have accurate navigation and flight plan information at their fingertips. That’s where Office 365 comes in.

We used to keep all of our safety manuals, navigation charts, and other kinds of vital information on paper. Pilots would carry big binders with them on board the aircraft. These documents constantly needed to be updated, and tracking all of the changes made to paper-based files took time away from other important tasks. It also meant that employees needed to be physically at the air base to access the current version of important documents.

I was flying a client of ours to do some helicopter skiing in the Himalayas when I started telling him about the difficulties we were having in managing documents. He was the CEO of IOZ, an IT firm based in Switzerland. And he described how, with SharePoint Online in Office 365, we could move all of our documents into the cloud so that employees could access the latest versions from almost anywhere. He explained that our subscription would also include email, calendaring, and collaboration tools—all supported and financially backed up by Microsoft. I was in.

Now that we have Office 365 and we’ve migrated thousands of pages of documents to SharePoint Online, things are so much easier. In fact, office staff will save approximately five hours a week and pilots will spend at least 20 fewer minutes preparing for each flight. By integrating our flight reservation system with SharePoint Online, we also estimate that we’ll save US$200,000 a year on lower fuel and personnel costs, because our team will be able to plan and coordinate trips more efficiently.

Most importantly, Office 365 will help us optimize our flight operations and improve safety. With access to the right information at the right time on whatever device they want to use—whether it’s their laptop, their smart phone, or their iPad—our air crews have one less thing to manage. As a pilot, I know the importance of focus, especially during a challenging rescue mission. And with Office 365, I can stay more focused on what I love—watching the world go by at 200 miles an hour.

To read more about how Air Zermatt is using Office 365 see their case study here.

To see a video on how Air Zermatt is using Office 365 click here