Requisites

Basic requisites

All you need a Windows computer and internet connection.

Does it work in non-Windows devices?

Yes. As long as the 'master' computer is Windows-based for the administrator, all other users can log-in from any web browser. Using a desktop computer, a tablet or a smartphone.

Other questions

Why should I switch my business to ATO Explorer?

We have been in the flight-club world for some time now. We know that many of them do not have at hand the necessary information to deliver a good service to their customers in order to increase their turnaround. Sometimes because of 'if things are running ok this way, why do I need to change them?'. Sometimes because of the cost of buying and maintaining an IT infrastructure.

ATO Explorer wants to be the answer to this situation by reliably and quickly delivering the necessary information to provide a better service to your customers with no need to buy or pay for the IT maintenance.

No dedicated servers are necessary anymore. No IT staff to maintain them. No software licences. No additional costs to add to the expenses budget.

In other words: You need not to be an IT expert to use ATO Explorer. It is just a management tool everybody will get familiar with in a very short time.

How long does it take to be up and running?

10 minutes at the most. Since ATO Explorer is an Internet-based application, the set-up process is as simple as Messenger: You only need to download the user interface from one of our servers, and it installs seamlessly from the Internet. Besides, when there is any change in the client application, it updates the same way, so you always run the latest version of the software, containing all improvements.

After that, you will need to feed the system with basic information like pilots, aircrafts, course information, etc. There is a help section that will lend a hand on that. And if you already have the information in any electronic system, just let us know and we will provide an estimate to move the data to ATO Explorer

How does it work?

ATO Explorer is a web-based hosted solution, which means you can access ATO Explorer at anytime, anywhere you have an Internet connection. You might hear this type of technology referred to as software-as-a-service or cloud computing. 'Cloud computing' or 'software-as-a-service' is a computing model in which IT applications are provided 'as a service', allowing users to access these applications from the Internet ('in the cloud') without needing to maintain the infrastructure that supports them. A simple way to understand the model is how people currently allow companies to run and manage their electricity rather than generating it within their home/office themselves.

ATO Explorer information is hosted in our Azure-based data centres, which is the Microsoft version of the cloud. This infrastructure is protected against data-loss by replicating the information in several servers. If a server experiments a malfunction, another one is brought into service having the same information the faulty one, thus ensuring do data is ever lost. In any case, if you prefer to have a copy of your data at home, you can opt for the 'dedicated database' option, which allows you to back-up or restore your information as often as required in your in-home servers.

What if I decide to switch to another application?

We commit in sending to you all the relevant information in a standard format to feed the new application, and also to delete all your data from our servers, as we are obliged by the DPA.

What if Catalansoft goes out of business?

In this unlikely case we commit to warn three months before the service gets interrupted, and to send all data in XML format to the customer, allowing this way to transfer the data to any application.

In any case, all relevant data can be retrieved at any time in Excel format, using the 'Export to Excel' option in Aircraft and Pilot windows.

I do not trust the cloud model

Okay. I didn't either at first. In my experience, I witnessed technologies sinking along with their expectations as quickly as they emerge, and when the cloud model was beginning at the turn of this century, I was suspicious about 'cloud computing' being one of them.

But on 2008, large companies like Google, IBM and Amazon bet definitely for this model, and to the end of 2009, Microsoft also put its feet in the cloud by starting the Azure service, the one ATO Explorer is currently using. Back then, at Catalansoft we had to decide on the model for the heir of Flight School, the first product the company marketed for the aeronautics industry, standalone by design, and requiring no Internet connection. Here is the list of matters that raised before taking the decission to embrace the cloud.

Cloud drawbacks?

I do not trust the cloud model

'You feel safer when you know the data your business depends on is at home'. That may be true. Though let's consider whether everyone can afford to set-up an IT infrastructure for this feeling to become true:

You'll also need a firewall to filter and control the external communication requests.

And what about fire or flooding hazards? Are your premises equipped with the necessary alarms and staff to prevent them?.

Add a good anti-virus to it and only then you can begin to feel safe. But wait. Is the cloud providing all these items for just a monthly fee?.

Ok. Perhaps I feel safer when all my data is in the cloud.

Accessibility

Your data can be extremely safe but inaccessible. Both your data centre and your ISP provider are exposed to power failures. Nothing that a UPS cannot solve. I'm sure you already got one of them supporting the three servers. What about your ISP?

Well. Even Azure is exposed to power failures, though they guarantee a 99.95% of up time. Can you?.

Ok. Perhaps my data gains in accessibility by being in the cloud.

Data privacy

That's quite a good point. You want to make sure nobody else peeks into your data whatsoever. Besides, there is the Data Privacy Act. Your company must be certain about your customer’s data not being used for any other purposes, like sending emails, or even worse things we could imagine. Customer's information must be used only to give the service our customer contracted us for. Nothing else.

Who has access to the information in the cloud? Only those people with a user name and a password can access the cloud. Pirates are not taken into account here because the database address is not exposed at any time, and a pirate needs an IP address to start with.

And who are they? They are the ones who maintain the cloud up and running (Azure), the data responsible at Catalansoft, the ATO Explorer administrator (to whom ATO Explorer services), and whoever this administrator wants to grant permissions to.

So we have three possible weak points in this chain. Let's see:

It's hard to imagine someone at Microsoft peeking at our data. First, they are also subject to the Data Privacy Act. Secondly, I'm pretty sure there are far more appealing databases than ours to peek into. And how would end up the multi-million Azure business if Microsoft were eventually sued to use some of their customer's data?.

The second weak point is the responsible for the data at Catalansoft. Would you ever trust again that company if any doubt would arise about it?. I tell you: we want to be in this business for as long as we can, and we'd hate to be elbowed out after being fined. Our only interest is providing a good service to our customers forever, and dealing with our customer's private information can be done only once before closing down..

The third one is the ATO Explorer administrator. He/she is whoever manages the application in the flight club, and has privileges to grant or deny privileges over the application data to other club users.

As we see, it's just a matter of trust and confidence. In the same way we trust our telephone operator is not peeking into our conversations. Either we trust the companies providing the Internet services, or we become isolated.

Although ATO Explorer owns the service data storage and databases, we will never sell or share your client data with any third-parties, or contact your clients directly. The information about your customers serves only for the service to run properly.

Cloud advantages

Communications

As an additional safety measure, all communications in between the user and the server are encrypted using a proprietary technique, but even in case someone could decrypt one message, it could not be used again, since all messages have a very limited life time, after which the server would not acknowledge it, and the message would be rejected.

Easy set-up

Since the application is installed from the web, the web itself provides all necessary requirements. Is as simple as installing the Messenger.

Besides, it cannot harm in any way other application already running in your computer. Since ATO Explorer is an Internet application with the lowest level of privileges, it installs in an isolated box, and requires no administrator privileges.

Maintenanace

Application maintenance requires no user action. It is completely automated.

In this way, we ensure the user is always executing the lastest version, including all enhancements introduced to date.

Available anywhere, anytime

If your computer goes down, or you want to access the data from the club premises or from home, the application is always providing the required service.

A better service to your customers and staff

By using the appropriate roles, the application can be opened to serve the pilots to place a booking to take a view of their records from home, or to the professors to notify the next week planning to all pupils.

No additional licences needed

While it is true that ATO Explorer generates documents in Microsoft Office format, no Microsoft Office licenceis required, since they can be also read by Open Office. A free Office reader by Microsoft can also be found.

Take a look:

Statistics

Aircrafts218
Pilots4.830
Licences4.320
Flights111.297
Operations247.203
Accounting registers (tickets)6.902
Planned classes or flights (events)122.022
Courses486
Workstations3.243
Registered users861
Logged-in users11

Videos

What is ATO Explorer about?
What is ATO Explorer about?
This video is a quick review of ATO Explorer features, including reports, flight entry window and the Aircraft window.
Users and accessibility
Users and accessibility
This video shows one of the most important ATO Explorer features: accessibility
It also introduces the Users and Roles window, which the administrator uses to grant permissions to the users.
The aircraft window
The aircraft window
This video is an introduction for the window which allows accessing the aircraft records.
Term definitions
Term definitions
Do not miss this video! It introduces important concepts used throughout the other demos on the planning window.
Pilot window - Managing pilots
Pilot window - Managing pilots
See how ATO Explorer can manage tons of pilots in one window. How to quickly find one of them, or how easily is to create a user account out of a pilot record.
Pilot window - Licenses and ratings
Pilot window - Licenses and ratings
See the options available to track them, how to configure the pilot window to see some particular groups, and how to send reminder emails to the pilots with outdated documentation.
Pilot balance
Pilot balance
ATO Explorer takes care of pilot balance as flight details are entered. See how the pilot balance is managed by entering flight vouchers
Planning window
Planning window
This demo shows the planning window features
Courses - Syllabus
Courses - Syllabus
How to create a new course from scratch. Adding theory and flight events and how do they allow a better control of the pupils progress.
Planning window - Advanced features
Planning window - Advanced features
This video includes some tricks that may be useful while using the planning window. It also explains how to use the events based in exercises set as 'solo flight' or 'split flight'
Preferences
Preferences
This video explains how the values accessible through this window affect the rest of the application.
Miscellaneous
Miscellaneous
This video describes this window contents and the relationship of its data with the rest of the application
Periodic charges
Periodic charges
Periodic charges help on processing membership or hangar fees for each club member in one clic

Development notes

This project has beed developed mostly using Visual Studio 2015 as development environment, though some other tools have been also present:

Tools

  • Azure Management Studio for image maintenance in the cloud.
  • Microsoft Open XML SDK 2.0 para la generación de informes Word
  • Microsoft Webmatrix for this web site maintenance
  • GIMP for image edition and maintenance.
  • ICOfx for icon creation.

Programming languages

  • c# (418.580 code lines)
  • Microsoft XNA
  • Transact SQL (61.960 code lines)
  • Image files 717 Mb
  • Demo videos 15
  • 123 help documents in English and Castilian
  • ASP.Net
  • HTML 5.0
  • .net libraries 4.5
  • Javascript
  • css 2.1

Date Release
27/11/2018 02.05.02.00
01/10/2018 02.05.01.00
02/09/2018 02.05.00.08
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