In past issues of the CONNECT Newsletter, we've talked primarily about flight operations, but in this issue, we'd like to shift gears to maintenance and engineering. Aviation maintenance, like many other industries, has gone through a change over the last 20 years that has been fueled by the impact of digital technologies and its transformation on business. Maintenance has seen some good gains in efficiency from the adoption of things like digital records, software maintenance planning and tracking systems, data warehousing, and affordable devices bringing relevant information directly to hangar and line mechanics. Currently, Boeing empowers more than 10,000 commercial and military aviation mechanics worldwide with applications accessible on mobile devices.
This digital transformation has provided access to an unprecedented amount of aircraft, airline and military-aviation operational data. Access to this data has opened up the potential for doing predictive maintenance – the capability to spot an emerging issue before it may impact scheduled operations.
Boeing was first to begin exploring this new capability in commercial and military aviation. More than 10 years ago, Boeing introduced Airplane Health Management (AHM), an application that includes predictive analytics, for use in commercial aviation. Since AHM was released, Boeing has continued to advance the analytics capabilities of this solution, as well as introducing other analytics-enabled applications throughout the aerospace spectrum, using insights gained from each aviation sector to create and enhance applications for all segments. These applications, plus the expertise of more than 800 data professionals, form the Boeing AnalytX team.
Predictive maintenance rests on two other analytics capabilities: descriptive – identifying that an event happened, and diagnostic – the determination of why a situation occurred. Why is predictive maintenance now coming to the forefront? There are two reasons: first, the digital systems used in maintenance have matured and the emergence of a new, more efficient group of analytics software tools that are easier and faster to use. Second, many operators have come to the same understanding that drove Boeing to create AHM years ago: predictive maintenance lowers operational costs and increases airplane availability. One Boeing customer airline recently said that AHM’s predictive analytics has helped avoid delays, minimize disruption or save money more than 1,000 times across its fleet.
The next frontier for predictive maintenance in aviation will come with the ready access to full-flight data - all the detailed parameters captured throughout a flight. Full-flight data has traditionally been used for such operations as Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) and engine health management activities. Today, we are working with operators to unlock the full potential of this data to further expand predictive maintenance activities.
More data and more sophistication in the analytics methods will lead to a new level of meaningful predictive alerts. However, the goal is not to stop with predictive, but to expand further into prescriptive analytics. It takes a solid foundation, as Boeing has, in predictive maintenance to deliver meaningful prescriptive analytics offerings. Prescriptive analytics enables Boeing to create algorithms, methods, and applications to help airlines evaluate and select the best options based on a predictive alert. Boeing, through its AerData subsidiary, also is offering EFPAC, which helps operators manage engine maintenance. EFPAC allows operators to optimize engine maintenance and leases by evaluating multiple scenarios.
Another area fueling the continued digital transformation of maintenance is the need to maintain an accurate record of the maintenance and configuration of the airplane. Nowhere is this more important than in the leased aircraft market. Almost 40 percent of commercial airplanes are leased. Airplanes change hands about four times during the course of their life, and passing along highly accurate maintenance records for each aircraft is important – this has a direct impact on asset value and transition time between leases. Today, Boeing manages more than 500 million digital records through STREAM, a product of AerData.
Predictive maintenance is becoming a huge imperative in the aviation industry, and Boeing AnalytX is continuing to advance the practice and provide people and groups with analytics tools to help them boost their individual and organization’s efficiency, economy, performance, and safety. The future is about more predictability, less surprises, and having the time to innovate, plan, and optimize rather than react to emerging situations.
If you want to learn more about Boeing AnalytX and how predictive maintenance can benefit your operation, speak with your Boeing account representative or visit boeing.com/analytx.
Managing Director, Maintenance and Leasing Solutions - Boeing Global Services