Aircraft IT MRO – September / October 2016

Aircraft IT MRO – September / October 2016 Cover


Name Author
Case Study: Atlas Air – Paperless, that’s the plan Andy Genao, Senior Manager, Maintenance Planning, and Michael Henry, Director Maintenance Planning, Atlas Air View article
Voice Technology Innovations in MRO Scott Powell, Senior Manager, Product Marketing, Honeywell View article
The changing face of data Sander de Bree, CEO, EXSYN View article
Information: how to get what you need Bijoy Mechery, CEO, and Brent Heath, Senior Vice President, Seabury Solutions View article
Column: How I See IT – The Significance of Telepresence Paul Saunders, Solution Manager, Flatirons Solutions View article

The changing face of data

Author: Sander de Bree, CEO, EXSYN

The changing face of data

As the ways in which data is generated, consumed an applied grow ever more numerous, Sander de Bree, CEO at EXSYN, offers some thoughts on how humans interact with the data


Nowadays, data is created 24/7, it is a non-stop process and it’s safe to assume that the amount of data will only increase in the coming years. According to ‘V3 technology news’, by 2018 the internet-of-things will create more than 400 zettabytes (ZB) of data and the latest aircraft types are one of the drivers. For instance, a Boeing 787 generates 40TB of data per hour of flight. However, in aviation data is not only created by aircraft but also by engineers, mechanics, and other various supporting staff feeding their CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System), the official term of what many call MRO system or M&E system) system with new data 24/7. So it seems to be a good time to have a further look at the human interaction with IT systems in aircraft maintenance.


In 2012 I presented EXSYN’s research results about this topic at the Airline & Aerospace MRO & Flight Operations IT Conference EMEA and concluded the following:
  • Continued Airworthiness Management has moved from human driven to computer driven;
  • Human error opportunities exist during initial data entry, transfer of data between organizations, updating data, software creation and system availability;
  • Traditional regulations are not established to take digitalization in account (basically there is only one rule concerning data storage);
  • Short term gain lies in the dirty dozen theory to reduce human error in the digital world of continued airworthiness;
  • Long term gain lies in a centralized airworthiness management system ‘the aviation cloud’ removing large portions of human involvement in data management.
Within the same publication I also covered:
  • IT Systems in Aircraft Maintenance;
  • Continuous airworthiness;
  • The stages of human error possibilities;
  • The dirty dozen;
  • What can be done to mitigate human error risks?
The Dirty Dozen theory
To identify what can cause these errors in either the initial data entry or actual data entry, we have to look deeper at a widely spread accepted aspect of human factors; the phenomenon defined as the dirty dozen. These dirty dozen are twelve different factors that can lead to a human induced error:
  1. Lack of communication
  2. Complacency
  3. Lack of knowledge
  4. Distraction
  5. Lack of teamwork
  6. Fatigue
  7. Lack of resources
  8. Pressure
  9. Lack of assertiveness
  10. Stress
  11. Lack of awareness
  12. Norms
These twelve aspects also lie at the fundament of the human interaction with information systems used for continuous airworthiness management or aircraft maintenance.
Increasingly the aviation industry understands what can be done with all the data that is created. No one doubts that operational efficiency can be improved and costs reduced by using airworthiness and maintenance data more effectively and in looking beyond the nature of human capabilities to have a look at digital technologies. In 2015 I concluded that the vast amount of data generated can change the whole industry.
However, has anything changed in the impact of human interaction and involvement of creating and managing airworthiness data? In 2012 I used the example of the CMMS system indicating when maintenance will become due based on the utilization of the aircraft, but still requiring human intervention to tell the program, to enter the data of what maintenance needs to be performed on the aircraft at which interval, to plan downtime, resources, material and preparation of documents. The conclusion was that the human-to-system interactions played a vital role in ensuring continuous airworthiness. Also the data transferred into the systems at the beginning of a CMMS system implementation, or by phasing-in new aircraft, still involved a huge human interaction.
So let’s see where we are standing regarding human interaction in 2016 and with the available digital technology in the aviation industry today:
  • Electronic technical logbooks (ETL);
  • Onboard sensory data;
  • Content Management Systems;
  • Computerized Maintenance Management Systems;
  • Interfaces;
  • Data migration tools;
  • Analytical software’s.
These technologies were obviously also around four years ago; however, as time has passed, the level of adoption of these different technologies has increased within airlines. On the back of this increased adoption there has also been a continuous pursuit of mobility for solutions (whether functional or not) and the search for use areas of predictive capabilities due to increased and real-time sensory data availability. In addition, individual suppliers of solutions have continued their solution development to introduce new functions, improve performance of their solution or improve data integrity. Overall we can see that due to continued digitization in the aviation industry, airlines and, in particular, Engineering & Maintenance departments are faced with an even more complex and diversified digital landscape than ever before. Where historically the digitizing would limit itself to Computerized Maintenance Management Systems, we now see Maintenance Management Systems, OEM Content Management Systems, an ETL solution, Sensory Data processing solutions and Data Analytics tools being used all at the same time within the same departments and by the same staff.
The increased digital landscape in and around airlines has had a positive impact on efficiency and cost reduction but this also requires more knowledge and skills about how to use the digital technology most effectively and how they can be combined and interlinked in order to reduce the human-to-system-interaction. After all, the risk of human induced error within these solutions has only increased as even more data entry points have been introduced within the airline.
So, in order to minimize manual data entry points and thereby the possibilities for human induced errors, the need for integration of these different solutions and the migration of data across an airline’s systems landscape as well as between OEM’s, Airlines and MRO’s, is now more necessary than ever before. With the increasing pace of solution development, we will also see a continued increase in solutions used within airlines and an even greater and increasing need for integration and migration of data across the OEM, Airline and MRO value chain. It will be the early adopters of this integration and migration principle that will be able to benefit from the competitive advantages of using digital technology at this level.
Contributor’s Details
About the author: 
Sander de Bree is founder and CEO of ExSyn Aviation Solutions; focusing on engineering and technical management solutions for aviation and heavily specialized in the field of IT systems for aircraft maintenance. Sander holds a degree in aeronautical engineering with a specialization in quality management and aviation regulations. He is a member of the Royal Dutch society of engineers (KIVI NIRIA) and associate to the society’s departments of aerospace engineering and information technology.
ExSyn Aviation Solutions 
ExSyn Aviation Solutions offers solutions in the aviation industry including engineering services around the implementation, data transfer and application management of a fully integrated software package that manages the maintenance, engineering and logistic requirements of aircraft. That includes training of employees. On the other hand ExSyn offers aircraft transfer solutions. The firm has a broad expertise and a thorough understanding of all the high safety levels to provide clients with a service meeting the required standards and within the timeframe demanded.

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