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U.S. Air Force

Modernizing the information management of aviation resources

Summary

The U.S. Air Force's (USAF's) Aviation Resource Management System (ARMS) is a critical tool for collecting, managing, and reporting data about aviation resources and aircrew readiness. As a subcontractor to Fearless, we're helping to revamp the user experience, technical architecture, and technology stack of this complex legacy system.

An Air Force parachutist jumping out of a plan, with digital components in the background.

The challenge

ARMS is a mission-critical application that the USAF uses to track and manage flight data for about 65,000 aircrew and parachutists — including flying hours, flight and jump schedules, readiness information, and training and evaluation. It consists of seven different functional modules, such as Jumps (jump training records management) and Training (student profile management and accomplishments).

About 2,800 aviation resource managers rely on ARMS to perform over two million transactions per week. These users experience multiple pain points because of how the existing system was originally built, including:

  • The information architecture and interaction design make it difficult to complete tasks efficiently and effectively
  • Each Air Force base has a separate database, so individuals' training data doesn't transfer when they go to a new base
  • Parts of the system don't sync in real time, creating a problem for go-no-go determinations (such as whether it's safe for a parachutist to jump)
  • Older servers weren't designed for current loads, and crashes require going back to pen-and-paper forms
  • The slow speed of running reports eats up a lot of valuable time

Because of these issues, the USAF decided to modernize ARMS. And sought an experienced digital team who could help do so in a way that delivers immediate value and safeguards continuity of mission operations.

The solution

As a subcontractor to Fearless, we're working together with the ARMS program team to incrementally build out a new system alongside the old one, until all its key functionalities are replaced — a proven architectural approach known as the strangler pattern.

After conducting extensive user research and technical discovery, we decided that the best place to start the modernization process is with the Jumps Module. Aviation resource managers use this module to manage the jump training records of parachutists. We re-engineered this functionality as a separate application, an effort which involved:

  • Redesigning the user experience to better meet the needs of aviation resource managers
  • Rebuilding it using a modern technical architecture and technology stack
  • Revamping the legacy business rules, such as removing those no longer needed
  • Interfacing with the old component to migrate and keep data synchronized until it's no longer needed and can be decommissioned

This new application serves as a resusable infrastructure for accelerating the modernization of the other six modules and eventually all of ARMS, so the old one can be retired.

The results

  • Rapidly developed a prototype of the new Jumps Module to demonstrate the feasibility of our modernization approach, earning stakeholder buy-in
  • Preparing to launch a production version of the new application
  • Beginning the process of modernizing the other modules of ARMS, starting with user research and technical discovery