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Stats the way to do it: Harness the data deluge

Posted 3 May 2018 · Add Comment

The burgeoning amount of operational data pumped out by the global commercial fleet looks set to become a windfall for MRO providers. However, as Chuck Grieve explains, first, operators have to learn to interpret the data.

Studies suggest more than 38,000 new aircraft will be in operation worldwide by 2025, each of them producing some 50 times more data than current types.
All this data is designed to make commercial operations more efficient by constantly monitoring the behaviour of aircraft systems and engines in flight.
However, it’s not about the data your fleet is churning out – it’s about what you do with it. That’s the opinion of Ken Sain, Boeing’s vice-president of digital aviation and data analytics, and he should know.
Sain is in the thick of things at the Seattle airframer, whose new types produce thousands of data points per minute while flying.
“Our industry is still at the start of applying analytics on a wide scale basis,” he said in an interview with MRO Network.
Boeing has been using data analysis for decades to improve its aircraft. It launched AnalytX software last June and plans to expand into ‘self-service analytics’ for its customers.
Airbus is also making a pitch for global data management with its Skywise platform, launched last June, which it says “aims to become the single platform of reference” of all major aviation players.
Skywise claims several major international airlines as early adopters. They have so far used the platform for fleet events tracking and resolution, turnaround-time analysis, operations analytics, predictive maintenance, reliability analysis and benchmarking, and maintenance decision support.
A growing number of systems OEMs have strategies in place to collect the increasing amounts of data generated by their products. This has been made possible by the faster speeds of data transfer in next-generation aircraft such as the CSeries, Boeing 787 and Airbus A350.
The Pratt & Whitney engines on Bombardier’s CSeries jetliner are said to generate up to 10 gigabytes (GB) of data per second; this would add up to 432 terabytes (TB) per engine on one 12-hour sector.
Rolls-Royce and General Electric (GE) collect similar amounts of data, especially from their most modern engines on the global fleet. Major avionics OEMs such as Rockwell Collins and Honeywell are also actively capturing and using data.
An immediate benefit is the ability of maintenance teams on the ground to detect any abnormalities and prepare to deal with them at the earliest opportunity.
As an MRO provider working across platforms, Lufthansa Technik (LHT) has taken an ecumenical approach to big data. It has created an open, modular and neutral platform called Aviatar that offers a variety of digital MRO products and services by combining multiple apps in one place, independent of OEMs, MRO service contracts or, indeed, itself.
A spokesman said LHT expects Lufthansa Group airlines to adopt Aviatar for fleet management. Discussions continue with airlines in all regions.
LHT takes a collective approach by welcoming developers who want to connect their apps to the platform. Users can select the products they need.

While each app is valuable in a standalone version, it is the interlay of those apps that gives Aviatar its value.
The platform started with seven apps that gave users an overview of their fleet and key performance indicators in real time. Through analysis of data from their fleets, users can predict maintenance needs ahead of time.
Big data provides a predictive MRO tool to better plan shop visits, parts logistics and fleet management, all of which will result in savings in time and cost.
Sami Ben-Kraiem, MTU Maintenance’s vice-president marketing and sales for Middle East and Southeast Asia, explained it is “challenging to create a general cross-industry approach” because, while there are common data parameters, the hardware and software to process and analyse data varies considerably.
MTU Maintenance works with data directly from operations through its engine trend monitoring (ETM) programme.
“As MTU is an independent service provider, our ETM system is not based on a single engine system,” said Ben-Kraiem. “This means that we can, for instance, monitor a customer’s GE90 and V2500 fleet with the same tool, which is particularly helpful for engineers and technical managers and unusual in the industry.
“We are also exploring the possibilities this opens up for predictive maintenance.”
 

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