How Web Manuals is using AI to make operations safe


Aviation manuals are safety critical, would you trust an algorithm to write them for you?

This was the consideration Web Manuals founder and CEO Martin Lidgard found himself pondering when thinking about deploying artificial intelligence (AI). He initially decided to bin the idea, but now just over 18 months later Web Manuals has launched Amelia, an AI-enhanced search tool, that is pioneering the use of AI for pilots’ manuals.

Amelia allows users to pose questions and receive descriptive answers from within their manuals, helping them make “safe and well-informed” decisions while avoiding “costly” diversions and delays. The document search tool just got its first customer too — Vienna-based aircraft management and charter company, Skyside— with more on the way imminently.

“When we first saw ChatGPT coming out my gut reaction was: ‘I don’t know if this is relevant for us’. Manuals are safety critical components and I wouldn’t necessarily trust an AI tool to write them for you,” Lidgard tells CJI. “Then at the last EBACE a few colleagues opened my eyes to the fact there are other things than writing manuals where the use of AI could be of great benefit.”

Upon this realisation, Web Manuals accelerated efforts to adopt AI with the acquisition of Swedish firm, ManualAI. The Gothenburg-based company specialises in AI-based search technology which gave Web Manuals a platform and an understanding of how to structure developments moving forward.

“The acquisition gave us a lot of great technology and know-how, but it wasn’t tailored to how we wanted to use it. It also didn’t take into consideration the scale of our operations — we have more than 650 customers and 70,000 users — so we had to refine it quite a lot to make it work for us. The AI functionality is a critical component, but that is only the core.”

Amelia’s first feature is the search functionality that gives users “a more intelligent” way of searching versus inputting a keyword. Traditional search results are displayed in a list format rather like Google. Amelia instead provides summaries of each result relative to the question asked by the user. It is then possible to have a conversation with Amelia to refine the results.

“This first feature is an exploration of how AI can improve accessibility of information for pilots, up front staff, cabin crew, ground staff and so on. And also how it can facilitate working with clients’ large and consistently changing regulations and volumes of manuals thousands of pages long all tied together in an intricate way.”

In Web Manual’s roadmap there are several additional features that will be added to the Amelia suite, Lidgard revealed.

The system is incrementally more expensive than using Web Manuals without Amelia — €3 entry level cost without and €4 with the AI functionality. Lidgard hopes that low entry costs and added functionality will drive uptake to Web Manuals’ 70,000-strong user base.

As the first customer to integrate Amelia into its operations, Skyside’s EFB-Admin Jonas Conrad said he expects a “significant enhancement” in the firm’s ability to access information quickly. Skyside has been a Web Manuals customer since 2020.

“By leveraging Amelia’s innovative AI capabilities, we expect to reduce our workload and streamline document management processes. This will not only boost our efficiency but also allow us to focus more on critical tasks, ensuring safety remains our top priority. Web Manuals Amelia AI is set to revolutionise our operations, enabling us to perform our duties more effectively and stay ahead with new technological advancements,” explained Conrad.

Web Manuals has a total of 338 business aviation customers worldwide, comprised of charter operators, helicopter operators, corporate jets, mission and medical operators, and FBOs. It has 182 business aviation customers across the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. This represents more than half (52%) of the company’s total business aviation customer base and 28% of the global community (648).

The company has also just been recognised as a Master Gazelle (Mästargasell) at the Di Gazelle 2024 Awards, which honours fast-growing Swedish businesses. The award follows six years of being named a Gazelle. Launched in 2000 by Swedish financial newspaper Dagens Industri and only achieved by 1% of all Swedish companies, the Gazelle award – which Web Manuals has now won six times – recognises businesses that have doubled their revenue through organic and profitable growth in the past three years.

“In actual fact our growth rate has probably been closer to tripling our revenue in that same period of time,” says Lidgard. “So we’ve averaged about 42% year-over-year growth for the past 12 years. We started off small with a couple hundred thousand euros in revenue and just five people. Now we have taken on over 65 customers this year alone which is about three per week.”