- 20 Nov 2020
- Jet Maintenance
Concluding his review of business aircraft maintenance tracking software, Mario Pierobon reaches out to industry experts to illustrate recent and future developments in this important area of Business Aviation...Back to Articles
What are the recent developments in aircraft maintenance tracking software, and how will it evolve in the future? Mario Pierobon speaks to the industry's experts, discussing how these developments will simplify the management of your aircraft's maintenance...
Having already provided an overview of the importance of maintenance tracking software, it's clear there remains plenty of scope for development looking at the short- and longer-term future.
According to Mark Steinbeck, president of Traxxall, the use of technology enabling maintenance departments to transition to paperless environments has been one area that’s developed rapidly, and continues to gain traction, in Business Aviation.
“Maintenance departments who have shifted to a paperless – or a ‘paper-lite’ – environment are seeing significant advances in data accuracy throughout their flight operation, and increased levels of safety. At the same time they are cutting their operating costs,” he told AvBuyer.
“It truly is the best of all worlds and I have never spoken with a maintenance department which has regretted [shifting towards] a paperless environment.”
Helping the push towards paperless maintenance, today’s software aims to digitize many of the processes that were traditionally done on paper or via spreadsheets, says David Purfurst, global pre-sales director at Rusada.
“We have gone to great lengths to develop workflows that not only replicate these processes in our system, but significantly increase their efficiency and reliability,” he says.
With the advent of new technology, another advantage to emerge is the ease with which cloud-based software/service providers can integrate their systems.
“Sharing data among multiple systems within a flight department is extremely powerful and has two huge benefits,” Steinbeck details.
“Not only are there time savings from not having to enter the same data into multiple systems, but by eliminating multiple data entry points you reduce the likelihood of human error with data input.”
According to Christopher Lawn, marketing specialist at WinAir, open API functionalities have also broadened the scope of aviation maintenance software, resulting in the transformation of these products into more robust, versatile, and informative solutions.
“Aircraft maintenance software can now integrate with accounting systems and flight operations software,” he says. “In terms of our accounting system integration, when aviation operations approve a transaction in WinAir, it is instantly updated in a corresponding accounting system.
“Similarly, concerning our flight operations integration, aviation operations can now automate the transfer of flight log data to our aviation maintenance software. Conversely, they can also send maintenance and inventory data, including next due/tech dispatch data, from our maintenance software directly to their flight operations system.”
Operators Seek Predictive Software
Due to the fast-changing industry trends and the need to ensure quick turnaround times, business aircraft maintenance operators expect software be able to predict and suggest trends based on the transactions carried out in the past.
According to Saravanan Rajarajan, head of Solution Consulting at Ramco Aviation Solutions, one example has to do with parts which are frequently ordered during any AOG and can be recommended by the software.
“Another key example would be advising the mechanic on the resolutions that need to be taken for a discrepancy that has been previously observed,” he says. “These predictions and auto-suggestions will significantly reduce turnaround time, especially during unplanned grounding of the aircraft. Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning capabilities leverage historical data and advanced algorithms to deliver this value to users.”
Another important area is that of partner inventory. “It is of high importance that the maintenance crew has the accurate and timely visibility of the stocks. In an event of the part requirement, the crew can check the global stock availability and the expected ETA to make their sourcing decision,” Saravanan adds.
Aircraft Maintenance Tracking of the Future
The current global pandemic and travel bans have undeniably hit the Business Aviation industry hard. Just like most of the other IT industries, aviation software providers are also today considering remote collaboration.
“The maintenance crew can interact with their maintenance control, and the engineering section through remote collaboration technology tools available to them [on their cell phones],” Saravanan suggests. “They can livestream their work through video chat; whiteboard any observations; and are able to get an immediate resolution from their counterparts.
“This is going to be the new norm,” he predicts.
Expanding reliability for better cost management is the next step in the evolution of maintenance tracking software, according to Lawn. “When it comes to proactive maintenance management, aviation operations want more analytic information to enhance and improve data-driven decision making.
“They want to be more forward-thinking in their maintenance planning to ensure that aircraft are always ready for the next mission, and to curtail potential AOG situations”, he says.
“By building upon our reliability program, we can continue to assist aviation operations with ensuring the airworthiness of their aircraft, while simultaneously offering them a more economical approach to managing their business by maintaining lean, yet fully prepared, inventories.”
“To further improve maintenance planning and forecasting, we’re focused on introducing new system enhancements for automating and accelerating processes, along with expanding upon our integration capabilities to offer our clients additional analytic data that they can utilize to their advantage”, Lawn reveals.
According to Steinbeck, over the next few years many of the software developments will be around data. “We are seeing many operators thirsting for more data, because, as with everything, the more data we can offer and analyse, the better and more educated our operators can become," he explains.
“We have already built many tools that operators and OEMs can use to analyse their maintenance data in ways they have never been able to in the past — and this is leading to less aircraft downtime because of better planning of upcoming maintenance events.
“In today’s data-driven world aircraft maintenance has been a few years behind the curve on really implementing and utilizing technology to look at the maintenance department through a different lens. However, the time is coming, and it is exciting,” he predicts. “The operators who have already embraced this have seen their operations become much more efficient, and have actually seen a reduction in their overall maintenance costs”
Greater access to higher quality data has led to discussions around predictive maintenance and the utilization of artificial intelligence to really take aircraft maintenance organizations to the next level, says Steinbeck.
“We are having many collaborative conversations with operators, OEMs, and other partners on how to best expand the use of this technology and couple that with industry expertise to really drive change in the industry. The projects that are in work right now are extremely exciting, and will lead to even more projects along those same lines”, he concludes.
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