When Virgin Atlantic Airways put the Boeing 787 Dreamliner into service, it did more than introduce a significant evolution to its fleet. The Dreamliner ushered in a new level of digitally-based, real-time airplane support—on the ground or in the air—for Virgin Atlantic. It was a signal that the time had come to move away from paper-based engineering and maintenance operations toward the unprecedented digital solutions that would redefine maintenance and engineering support in the new era.
“In this modern age, we needed to make the best use of technology. One of those things was making mobile technology available to our engineers,” said Kevin Dudley, Vice President—Aircraft Maintenance, Virgin Atlantic Airways. “It was natural for us to turn to Boeing to see how we could partner and how they could help us with this concept.”
To get the full value of a transition from paper to digital maintenance and engineering, Virgin Atlantic and Boeing worked side-by-side to create a platform that provided more than the chance to simply put down paper manuals and pick up a tablet. They partnered to create a suite of solutions that introduced connectivity of flight crews, maintenance, engineering and even the airplane itself, into the airline’s daily operations. Virgin Atlantic dubbed this program, “The Connected Engineer.”
One Powerful Solution.
Achieving Virgin Atlantic’s vision required more than one app could offer. However, the solution had to function as one unit to optimize effectiveness and ease of use—day in and day out. To fully transform into “The Connected Engineer” platform, these four digital applications are being used together:
- Airplane Health Management (AHM)—With the Real Time Fault Management, Custom Analytics and Performance Monitoring modules, Virgin Atlantic has real-time diagnostic and prognostic analytical decision-making power based on its own in-service fleet experience, as well as accessing Boeing’s deep engineering knowledge.
- Electronic Logbook (ELB)—An application within Boeing’s Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), the ELB replaces paper logbooks with electronic recordkeeping that improves efficiency. Tailored interfaces offered through modules like Flight Crew client, Cabin client, Maintenance client, and ELB Data Control further enhance productivity with interfaces unique to each aspect of maintenance reporting and tracking.
- Maintenance Turn Time—Reduce delays and cancellations by improving the ability to quickly identify and resolve non-routine maintenance defects. Maintenance Turn Time creates on-site access and research for troubleshooting, real-time communication with engineering and access to aircraft maintenance history. It also allows for photo or 3D image documentation of maintenance issues.
- Toolbox Mobile Library—Supports the Maintenance Turn Time app with a mobile library of Virgin Atlantic’s own documentation with or without network connectivity. In addition, Boeing’s Aircraft Maintenance Manual, Fault Isolation Manual, Wiring Diagram and Schematics Manual, and more are available and linked for reference between manuals. Toolbox Mobile Library also supports documentation compliance at the point of need—the airplane.
Craig Donald, Vice President—Business Systems for Virgin Atlantic explained, “We’re starting to integrate these things together and to exchange data between them to give our engineers the right kind of information at the right time. We can take all that complexity and manifest it in a very simple device that engineers almost intuitively know how to use.”
By connecting flight crews, maintenance personnel, engineers and the airplane, Virgin Atlantic has realized some outstanding results to support its vision:
“It’s not always easy to see such a quick return in our investment. In this case, it really has been fantastic,” Donald concluded.
Maintenance apps like Airplane Health Management, Electronic Logbook, Maintenance Turn Time and Toolbox Mobile Library are powerful tools on their own. When they are used together, as Virgin Atlantic and Boeing have done through “The Connected Engineer” program, the possibilities for efficiency, productivity and value are as varied as the airlines that utilize them.
But don’t take our word for it. Hear directly from Virgin Atlantic’s “Connected Engineers” by clicking here. Then, contact your representative to learn more about how an integrated suite of maintenance apps, tailored for your operation, will help you realize your vision for efficiency and optimization using mobile technology.
The Virgin Airways image and the "The Connected Engineers" infographic are © of The Boeing Company