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|Column – Why pay billions for smart aircraft only to plug them into dumb IT?||Michael Wm. Denis||View article|
Column – Why pay billions for smart aircraft only to plug them into dumb IT?
Author: Michael Wm. DenisSubscribe
NextGen aircraft like the B787, the A380 before it and the soon to follow A350 require a significant investment in information technologies and processes from what airlines have done in the past. The B787 creates just under 100GB of data per hour of flight, that is 1.5TB (Terabytes) on the average transatlantic flight. The GEnx engine tracks 1001 parameters, 230% more than the GE90 and the B787 tracks 20,300 parameters, a 60% increase over the B777.Last year I was working in Europe with an airline scheduled to get the Boeing 787. On boarding any new aircraft is a planning and scheduling challenge, and airlines often rely heavily on the OEM for assistance. Besides pilot, engineering and mechanic training, new type certifications, new tooling, new technology, in this case, no one had noticed that there wasn’t a hangar the bird fit in – something that would take more than the nine month lead time this airline was left with.
The value proposition of these aircraft is operating and support efficiencies. Fuel efficient engines, lower weight – lower cost to maintain composite bodies, flexible maintenance scheduling. To achieve these significant efficiencies, NextGen aircraft perform complex diagnostics, prognostics, aircraft health management, integrated XML content, dynamic maintenance packaging and autonomic logistics. But to reap the benefits of your billion dollar purchase requires advanced off-board information technologies.
What? They didn’t tell you your 1960’s Sceptre, 1990’s Maxi Merlin or most of the “best of breed” MRO IT systems on the market today can’t integrate or properly manage the data and content your shinny new aircraft is using and generating?
If you are an airline getting one of these NextGen aircraft, you have options.
Do nothing. It worked in the past you might be able to get away with it in the future. Just don’t go ask the OEM why you aren’t getting the promised performance out of the aircraft – sort of like voiding your warranty by plugging a 220V 60Hz motor into a 100V 50Hz grid.
Outsource everything to the OEMs. Don’t fret, the OEMs knew your airline wasn’t prepared for the data tsunami , so they have performance based contracts called Goldcare and Totalcare and Power by the Hour. Trust them, just because they sold you the airplane, parts, engineering services and MRO support, doesn’t mean they won’t do their best to minimize your total cost per operating hour.
OK, so if option one and two don’t sound so hot, how about we do our homework and prepare before the aircraft arrives. There are a number of aviation consultancies who can quickly identify the functional and technical gaps in an airline’s flight, engineering and maintenance operations capabilities.
NextGen MRO IT for NextGen aircraft and engines are a great opportunity for airlines and Part 145s to modernize and significantly improve labor productivity and material turns across the organization. And the traditional hurdle put in our way by finance to question the investment has already been answered.