To help simplify operations in the business aviation industry, World Fuel aimed to make it easier and faster for pilots to plan and fly safe, efficient journeys. How could it achieve its goal?
Working with IBM Services, World Fuel created a leading-edge mobile experience on iPad, combining flight planning, weather briefings, fuel booking and more in a single app.
84%faster flight planning
20%faster trip management
Enhancesthe client experience
Business challenge story
Whether it’s flying corporate executives to critical meetings or Hollywood A-listers to promote their latest blockbuster, private aviation is thriving. Behind the scenes, a wide range of stakeholders work together to keep passengers moving smoothly: from pilots and corporate flight planning teams to ground facilities teams and trip-support companies.
Preparing for take-off starts long before the pilot boards the aircraft, with multiple tasks to ensure that every stage of the journey is timely, cost-efficient—and above all—safe.
Based in Miami, Florida, and with operations across 200 countries and territories, World Fuel is a key partner to the aviation industry. In addition to digital solutions for flight planning and fueling, the company offers trip support services for every part of a journey, such as filing permits, booking hotel accommodations, and arranging services for passengers at the destination airport.
Identifying the opportunity
World Fuel has embraced mobile to deliver its services. For example, the company relies on a data-driven platform to enable pilots to calculate efficient flight plans, and determine which flight clearances and landing permits will be required to complete a journey.
Jeffrey Briand, Vice President, Global Trip Support at World Fuel Services, explains: “We see that our value-added services are one of the most powerful ways to attract new clients and foster their long-term loyalty. We are always looking for innovative ways to help our clients achieve more efficient operations, and our data-driven solutions play a key role. As our digital capabilities matured, we recognized an opportunity that no one else had attempted before at that time: integrating all our digital services with our full service offering into one seamless, mobile experience.”
World Fuel decided to embark on this ambitious project. The aim was to shape a mobile app that brought together multiple capabilities, including flight planning, trip support, real-time global weather and airport information, and more.
“We already had digital systems that could answer questions such as: ‘what are the overflight requirements to get to my destination?’ or: ‘are there any significant weather issues on my route?’ and: ‘which airports have the best price for fuel?’,” adds Jeffrey Briand. “Our goal was to expand these systems to create a self-service experience on iPad—and we looked for an expert partner to help us make our vision a reality.”
Charting a course
After a thorough vendor evaluation process, World Fuel selected IBM iX® as its partner for the mobile app development project.
“World Fuel had already worked with IBM in the past, and that experience was extremely positive,” recalls Jeffrey Briand. “IBM presented the most compelling solution of all of the partners we considered. IBM even outshone vendors that specialize in the aviation industry.
“Another aspect of the IBM offering that appealed to us was their deep expertise around meteorology, which plays a vital role in the flight planning process. We see The Weather Company®, an IBM Business, as one of the most respected providers of forecasting data in the entire aviation industry, and we thought that real-time data feeds from The Weather Company would give our clients and prospects great confidence in our iPad solution.”
To deliver a high-quality user experience, World Fuel decided to release its new mobile app—named myWorld—exclusively on iPad.
“Apple is a trusted technology provider for the aviation industry, and iPad is approved for use as an electronic flight bag by the Federal Aviation Administration,” says Jeffrey Briand. “All of the largest commercial carriers in the U.S. are using iPad to replace paper on their flight decks, and we saw the platform as a natural choice for our own app. Crucially, Apple and IBM have a close strategic partnership, and IBM’s user experience designers and mobile developers are experts on the iOS platform.”
As a next step, IBM iX and World Fuel formed a multi-disciplinary team of subject-matter experts, co-located at the IBM MobileFirst for iOS Garage in Atlanta, Georgia. Bringing together personnel from a range of backgrounds—from pilots to operations staff—the two companies began working on the first version of the app through an agile, iterative design process.
“To inspire clients to embrace the new app, we knew it would be crucial to engage them in our design process at the earliest opportunity,” comments Jeffrey Briand. “IBM Design Thinking principles put the user experience at the heart of the development process. Through successive stages of sprints and releases, we zeroed in on what our clients really wanted from a mobile experience. This process helped us to shape seamless user journeys for everything from booking a fuel stop to checking en-route weather.”
Adoption takes off
World Fuel soft-launched myWorld to its clients, initially targeting the app at corporate pilots. Connected to internal and external data sources via more than 130 API calls, the iPad app offers clients a greater range of self-service capabilities than ever before.
“Our clients will always have the option to engage with us by phone—and now they can access all those services and more from their iPad,” explains Jeffrey Briand. “For many business pilots, flight management still relies on manual, paper-based processes, which can take up a significant amount of time. Using myWorld, pilots can create a paperless flight plan—and download all the weather reports, clearance information, maps and charts that go along with it—without any of that time-consuming work. Throughout the project, IBM’s expertise was instrumental. In fact, it was the IBM team who built the Assembly Kit that enabled us to develop the offline weather display capability for the app.”
Building the business
With the first version of its myWorld app available to iPad users across the U.S. business aviation industry, World Fuel is in a strong position to strengthen its existing relationships and attract new clients.
“If we can show a Fortune 500’s corporate flight planning department that we have a solution to lighten their workload and empower their pilots to perform their duties more effectively, then that is a very compelling reason to partner with World Fuel,” comments Jeffrey Briand. “Our journey with the myWorld iPad app is just beginning, but we’re already seeing some very significant results.”
Brian Conlon, Chief Pilot – Airplanes at Starr Equipment Corp. – A Member of Starr Companies, explains: “We are using myWorld to support our trip planning processes from end to end: including fueling, ground services, transportation, hotels and more. Since our organization switched from manual, paper-based work to the myWorld iPad app, we’ve cut the time required for flight planning from 30 minutes to just five minutes, and our overall trip management effort by around 20 percent. We can even see the status of requests such as crew accommodation bookings in real time, all via the app.”
After a pilot has created and filed their flight plan with myWorld, the app switches to en-route mode—enabling the pilot to access navigation assistance, see graphical representations of weather observations, and log each stage of their journey.
“myWorld’s en-route capabilities are particularly valuable for pilots performing international flights, as these tend to introduce additional and more complex operational and regulatory requirements,” adds Jeffrey Briand. “For example, international flights often need prior permission to transit many different areas of controlled airspace. In en-route mode, myWorld on iPad can display contextually relevant data such as permit numbers automatically before the flight enters the controlled airspace, making it easier for the pilot to get the air traffic controller’s permission and continue on with the journey.”
Brian Conlon adds: “If we are making a long-haul trip from the U.S. to somewhere like Hong Kong, the weather plays a key role in how cost-effectively we can operate that flight. For example, depending on the strength and direction of the wind, we may choose to fly the route from the east or west coast to minimize the fuel required and contain costs. With myWorld, we can download up-to-the-minute weather data from The Weather Company, and visually overlay forecasts over our planned route—helping us quickly make safe, cost-effective routing decisions. We can even update this data in-flight, if we have an internet connection in the aircraft.”
Looking to the future
Based on the positive reception to the first version of myWorld, World Fuel is preparing for its next release. This second release will include even more advanced capabilities—including the ability to re-plan routes in real time.
Jeffrey Briand comments: “Every pilot knows that when you’re in the air, there are any number of factors that can cause you to deviate from your planned route: severe weather, congested airspace, or disruption at the destination airport, to name just a few. In the next version of myWorld, flight plans will adapt dynamically when pilots need to make a change—reducing the workload in the cockpit and helping to minimize delays for passengers.”
Strengthening client relationships
As it prepares to launch the next version of myWorld, World Fuel is confident that its collaboration with IBM iX will help it to strengthen its relationships with clients and create opportunities to engage with additional stakeholders in the aviation industry.
Jeffrey Briand says: “We have begun previewing the next version of myWorld to prospects, many of which are major global enterprises, and we feel that myWorld will play an important role in inspiring new clients to engage with us.”
Jeffrey Briand concludes: “Our goal was always to create a one-stop-shop experience for our customers—and with IBM, that’s what we achieved. IBM has done a phenomenal job of helping us turn our vision for myWorld on iPad into a reality. Looking ahead, we aim to offer more value-added services through the app—helping us to build stronger relationships throughout the aviation industry.”
About World Fuel Services
Headquartered in Miami, Florida, is a leading global fuel logistics company, engaged in the marketing, sale and distribution of aviation, marine and land fuel and related products and services on a worldwide basis. With deep domain expertise in all aspects of aviation, marine and land fuel management, World Fuel Services works with clients at more than 8,000 locations in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.
Take the next step
To learn more about Apple and IBM, please contact, please contact your IBM representative or visit: ibm.com/mobile/apple-partnership
The Weather Company, an IBM Business, helps people make informed decisions and take action in the face of weather. The company offers the most accurate forecasts globally with personalized and actionable weather data and insights to millions of consumers, as well as thousands of marketers and businesses via Weather’s API, its business solutions division, and its own digital products from The Weather Channel (weather.com) and Weather Underground (wunderground.com).