The Chilean Air Force, known in Spanish as “Fuerza Aérea de Chile” or FACh, traces its origins back to early days of the 20th century.
It has grown and evolved over the decades and its fleet now totals more than 200 aircraft, including a fleet of forty-five F-16 fighter jets.
There have been many milestones along the way, including the first flight over the highest peaks of the Andes in 1918. But there was another one, perhaps less dramatic, but no less important, 16 years ago. In 2006 they partnered with ILIAS, a decision that continues to shape both organizations.
“In the 80’s, we had something called System 3000. It met our logistical need to handle our maintenance and our supply,” says General Jorge Verdugo of the FACh at the Congreso Internacional de Logistica in 2020. “When we purchased a second group of F-16’s,” explains General Verdugo, “we decided to acquire a new system.”
Some representatives of the Chilean Air Force were in the Netherlands to finalize the purchase. They took one look at the logistics software that Belgium was using and said, “We need this.”
It was an exciting opportunity for ILIAS Solutions: a chance to expand outside of Europe. “ILIAS was a pretty small company back then. We were just 40 people at that moment of time,” explains Pierre Van Brussel, Chief Engineer at ILIAS-Solutions. “We were essentially an IT company implementing ILIAS for the Belgium defense.”
The default language of all of ILIAS’ interfaces is English, but this was about more than teaching a new customer how to input data. Pierre needed to understand FACh; its needs and its culture.
“It is a modern organization. It’s one of the more mature Air Forces in South America,” explains Van Brussel. “I would say the culture is very pragmatic, very accessible. When you are exchanging information, they don’t make it too complex, they just stick to the facts.”
One thing the FACh has in common with every other large organization is that internally, some people were hesitant to embrace change.
“In the beginning, for the first two years, I heard I don’t like it. I don’t understand it. It’s too complex,’” Van Brussel recalls. “But after those two years, ILIAS was really adopted in the culture. We became seen as a state-of-the-art enterprise, providing a system that really gave concrete benefits. You could see a clear switch in the mentality. It’s been amazing.”
THE START OF A VALUABLE PARTNERSHIP
“We started with our fleet of F16s,” says General Verdugo, during the ILIAS User Community Meeting 2021, “and today we have all our aircraft within ILIAS.” That includes their training aircraft and helicopters. For the last eight years, ILIAS has been at the center of the entire Chilean fleet.
“They love having one centralized system and it’s running well,” says Van Brussel. “Next to the scope, also the software itself grew in capability over this period of strong partnership. Capability that has been leveraged by FACh to generate a Single Picture of Truth and continuous improve processes. With so many aircraft and units spread over such a large country, a system like this serves as an orchestrator.”
Van Brussel says the next evolution is to make the system easier for the people working on the ground. That includes ensuring technicians in the field have tablets with them to update status reports in real time, and also to automate some of the data entry through the use of sensors. As such, data quality and with it the decision making capability, will improve dramatically. Also, the scope can be extended now to cover for the operational planning & scheduling processes, aligning operations and logistics even more tightly.
Continued refinement and development of both the software, and the way in which people interact with it, is crucial for this partnership to thrive for the future.
Intervention of Gen Verdugo of FUERZA AÉREA DE CHILE
Registered on 10 sept. 2020 during CONGRESO INTERNACIONAL DE LOGISTICA APLICADA Y AERONAUTICA UNIVERSIDAD MILITAR NUEVA GRANADA Y ESCUELA DE POSTGRADOS FUERZA AÉREA COLOMBIANA EN APOYO DE
CIAC S.A | CORPORACIÓN DE LA INDUSTRIA AERONÁUTICA COLOMBIANA
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