Moving Further into a Data-Connected Future
Article Published on: Thu, December 08, 2016
Talk to almost any maintenance supervisor or line technician and they likely can tell stories about maintenance items, which occur with such regularity and frequency that their shop warehouses replacements for the parts they know will fail on a client's aircraft.
It's a practice beyond the consumables pilots expect to find in the maintenance hangar – engine oil, engine oil filters, inner tubes and air-powered systems filters. Think air pumps – vacuum and pressure – cooling fans, ignition parts like spark plugs and igniters.
Picasso and his staff at ATP, the industry’s recognized leaders at managing and providing easy access to aviation technical publications, regulations and content, want to put to work that base of maintenance knowledge and create a “predictive database” organized according to the trends identified through field experience.
“Now we are looking at going forward to 'predictive documentation',” explained Charles Picasso, ATP's Chief Executive Officer since September 2015. “That is the next step in advancing aircraft maintenance.”
Picasso, a veteran of data management and data mining companies, plans to take ATP's offerings to the next level with predictive tools so that maintenance managers and technicians learn about failure trends early enough to act ahead of pending failures – failures traditionally managed on an as-they-happen basis.
“We believe we are at a junction,” Picasso said. “We have the organization, the knowledge and the know-how to apply that knowledge. We will develop the data into tools that our clients can use to get ahead of failures – to have necessary parts on-hand, or to preemptively perform the work that avoids a failure and the downtime it causes.
“We'll be able to help our clients better manage their parts inventories so that a failure or breakdown doesn't ground the aircraft any longer than it takes to retrieve the part from inventory, exchange the part and sign the aircraft back into service.
WHAT'S PAST IS PROLOGUE
“This evolution as an information provider is the next step in ATP's strategy to add value for our customers and our company,” he said. By mining maintenance data from ATP's customer base – some 5,600 operators and 54 original-equipment manufacturers in 96 countries – Picasso envisions a time when maintenance shops can not only track the flight operations of their clients' aircraft, but they can proactively stock parts shown by historic records to fail after a certain number of hours of use or so much time installed in the aircraft.
Already, ATP staff are working on organizing maintenance data on thousands of customers' aircraft, working to put that information into a form that allows predictive mining of the data – all in the interest of keeping customers' planes flying.
“That's the future we're working to bring to our clients and customers, and it starts in 2017,” said Picasso. Imagine, indeed.