Keeping up with new aircraft maintenance demands

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Natali Craig
Published 14 Jan 2024
Natali Craig is an experienced designer in the aviation industry, driving Beacon's growth and innovation.

The latest generation aircraft require new tools to manage maintenance events. As ‘smart aircraft’ features increase, there will be more performance data to process with unscheduled and predictive maintenance to coordinate. A platform can help MTX teams keep up with the steady flow of information from the skies and the ground.

Maintenance operations face significant challenges in the years ahead. The fleet mix has shifted towards next-generation narrowbody aircraft deployed on longer routes. A fleet of “smart aircraft,” generating oceans of aircraft health data on their components, will require a new approach to fleet maintenance planning.

The AHM shift: from “passive” Aircraft Health Monitoring to “active” Aircraft Health Management

Controllers and technicians will need to interpret and act on aircraft health reporting, exchange information, and ensure that unscheduled and predictive maintenance delivers the expected efficiency returns. IATA's Maintenance Cost Technical Group (MCTG) has detailed the requirements in its report on the shift from “passive” Aircraft Health Monitoring to “active” Aircraft Health Management (AHM).

Coupled with a platform that enables active knowledge exchange between the people who keep aircraft flying, “active” AHM could revolutionize aircraft life cycle management, streamlining workflows to match the speed of aircraft data flow.

“The AHM (Aircraft Health Management) means using aircraft and fleet generated data to promptly identify the individual aircraft’s needs for maintenance work and trigger an effective and efficient maintenance action,” authors of the IATA MCTG AHM report. MCTG is an airline volunteer group that gathers and analyzes maintenance costs, delves into the complexities of maintenance operations, and suggests best practices.

They view “active” AHM as “an end-to-end comprehensive process”, including aircraft systems, data transfer and electronic processing, data analysis, and informed decisions on improved, re-defined, or alternative methods to manage maintenance tasks.

“It is a dynamic action-oriented approach,” they suggest, where the data transmitted from aircraft is quickly converted to maintenance action, facilitating coordination of unplanned maintenance events.

Making Dynamic Maintenance Happen

There are no efficiency gains from managing a fleet of “smart aircraft” via fax machine correspondence, phone, or e-mail—even if you could do it. The volume of information that will come from “smart systems” onboard modern and future aircraft will likely overburden any team using an analogue approach to digital maintenance.

New tools are required to ensure the timely exchange of notifications from ‘on-board systems’ to the ‘off-board’ human team who will manage issues reported by aircraft in service.

A platform fosters a “dynamic action-oriented approach” while ensuring an efficient exchange of information when aircraft need maintenance action. The platform also offers a single point of truth for complications that arise during the maintenance process. The network ensures that any actions required to deal AHM reporting are quickly captured and shared among all stakeholders, with less effort.

IATA’s MCTG suggests, “A link needs to be created between the repair organization and the line or base maintenance organization that shares the experience. On one hand, the troubleshooting will be improved, and issues will be solved in a more effective way. On the other hand, unnecessary repair or overhaul events will be avoided...If component maintenance is outsourced to a service provider, it is important to have a feedback loop with the line or base maintenance provider and to cover these improvements in contract negotiations or tenders.”

Weak links in the chain of maintenance communications could damage operations as traffic increases and new aircraft are introduced to the fleet.

The “feedback loop” MCTG reference ideally describes the collaborative interactions made possible by a platform approach to maintenance.

More Efficient Maintenance Management Benefits Everyone

The gains we make through more efficient aircraft maintenance processes, better collaboration, and better knowledge exchange in aviation benefit both the aviation industry and those who depend on aviation.

Each airline saving a minute is saving millions in the cumulative for all those who rely on aviation while reducing the waste of vital resources. The more airlines that save a minute, the better use of resources airlines make, and the better use of resources their industry partners and customers make.

Take the first step and cut through complexity in aircraft maintenance to embrace “active” AHM to get your MTX organization future-ready.

Learn more about the Beacon platform and schedule a demo.

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