Why integrate A&D MRO, diagnostic capabilities, and service content?

Written By: Ian Boulton
  • 2/3/2017
Commercial Airlines Service Parts Management

In the aviation industry, two of the major concerns for manufacturers and operators are fleet uptime and safety. Aviation maintenance organizations are tasked with getting aircraft back into operation as quickly as possible, while strictly following rules, processes, and protocols mandated by the FAA and similar regulatory bodies.

Large, dynamic, global operations such as we see in aerospace and defense, currently rely on a web of documentation, databases and process repositories, stemming from multiple inputs and data stores. An aircraft technician, then, can juggle as many as five to six systems (such as Flight Status/Scheduling, MRO, Electronic Manuals, Parts Ordering, Records and Archiving) to complete a maintenance task cycle. With so many sources of information, there are two challenges:

  1. Correctly completing a maintenance task in the most efficient way possible.
  2. Accessing the most up-to-date information in context of every maintenance instance for each part of the maintenance activity.

Complex Service Information Doesn’t Need Complex Systems

The data involved in A&D maintenance is extremely complex in its interrelations, and is further split into multiple platforms, all of which must be used by the service technician. In fact, two of the top errors on the maintenance floor are “information not used” and “procedures not followed”. Even more data to back up the notion that service information management and delivery is primed for an overhaul: 

  • 36% of all regulatory actions against aircraft maintenance technicians were for “not using proper technical documentation," according to the FAA Office of Aviation Safety's Technical Documentation for Maintenance Workshop.
  • 64% of all incidents registered in the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) are related to technical documentation or procedural challenges or both.
  • Industry studies have demonstrated that up to 60% of aviation incidents were procedure related or involved technical documentation.

These instances threaten safety and cost the industry millions of dollars. There’s a better way.

Vision for the Future of Optimized Service Content

The challenges inherent in aviation maintenance can be addressed by new solutions, powered by the Internet of Things. There is now a possibility of not only seamlessly integrating MRO software, ERP, and information delivery systems into a single solution, but also a way to revolutionize the information being delivered itself. Some possible evolutions to service content can include:

  • Utilizing aircraft health data and diagnostics to assist in guided fault isolation.
  • Using machine learning and data analytics to predict certain failures preemptively and also position service parts and resources accordingly.
  • Combining service experience and service information, relaying the right service information needed in each particular maintenance instance, saving time and improving accuracy.
  • Enabling technicians to consume service information through augmented reality, thereby minimizing service errors.
  • IoT platforms allow for the most up-to-date information to be accessible, eliminating errors due to outdated information.
  • Integrating multiple inputs into a contextual dashboard allows data to be accessed quickly and accurately by the workforce, improving many service metrics such as Mean Time To Repair, AOG and first-time fix rate.
  • An integrated, updated system helps with regulatory compliance, ensuring an authoritative and accurate set of data every time.

The FAA’s Office of Aviation Safety report finds that there are several software solutions available that can be leveraged to mitigate or solve many of these documentation and service information issues.The infographic below details the capabilities A&D organizations should look for in service information software:

Creo Illustrate Technical Illustrations

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  • CAD
  • Service and Parts
  • Aerospace and Defense

About the Author

Ian Boulton

Ian Boulton is a Senior Director of solution strategy for PTC’s Service Lifecycle Management Segment. Ian’s role is focused on the specific needs and requirements of the aerospace and defense vertical. Ian firmly believes that taking an enterprise wide, holistic view of service lifecycle management is a key enabler to lowering the total lifecycle cost of any modern system. Ian has been directly involved in the development of various product support standards for the last 10 years, and is a member of the AIA’s product support ILS specification working group which looks at best practice for U.S. adoption of ASD standards such as S1000D, S3000L etc.