Adapting to new ideas and thinking is hard but we must do it. For all of us in the aviation maintenance industry, we must not only embrace change, but anticipate it, and be ready to react when it is occurring. Otherwise, our businesses will not survive.

Times are good right now, But, as someone who has seen the cycles of aviation during the past three decades, a caution. Do not be lulled into thinking the good times will last forever. Sure, ride the wave. Enjoy it. But if you are wise, you will be thinking and planning for when the downturn comes. Saving money, hiring for the good times with an eye not to overdo it and keeping a keen eye towards new technologies that can disrupt the old ways will serve your business well.

Are there any predictions on what the new technologies that will disrupt our industry will be? What do you think will be the unexpected game changer in the maintenance world? Maybe it is already right in front of our eyes and we just aren’t seeing it yet. For those of us in the U. S. and some of the rest of the world, do you remember when a cab had to be called for an early morning ride to the airport to catch a flight or a late-night ride home on New Year’s Eve? It could be stressful – waiting and waiting for the cab to show up, if it did. Forget about getting a cab on New Year’s Eve. The taxi industry was a mess. Then came Uber and Lyft. Those companies radically changed the paradigm of catching a ride here in the U. S. I think they are still working out some kinks in the rest of the world, but here, Uber and Lyft have turned the cab industry on its head.

What will make that kind of radical shift in our industry? Perhaps it will be Big Data. Much talked about. Much worried about. Much maligned as a possible evil force. The question of who owns the data is the first thing everyone still asks at conferences and in interviews about it. But we must get over that fear. Big Data will be a part of our industry and we need to learn to love it. Whatever worries and concerns exist about it need to be addressed to the level that everyone is confident and then we need to move on and flourish in the Big Data world.

The digital transformation and disruption are happening right before our eyes. Predictive maintenance and optimization of aircraft systems will continue to evolve and become better. Connectivity artificial intelligence, big data analytics, cloud, IoT, cybersecurity, augmented reality and blockchain…if you don’t know what these things are and how they can impact the maintenance of aircraft, you are already behind the power curve. Learn more about Big Data and how it is impacting maintenance in our Big Data story on page 38.

Also in this issue, we look at engine MRO throughout the globe. Engine MRO constitutes the largest part of MRO spend in our industry. Learn about the ways engine MRO providers are vying for business with new partnerships, programs and locations. Our engine MRO story begins on page 16.

New advances in digitization and automation find their ways into the cockpit quickly and often first. Boeing has introduced RouteSync in an effort to automate the predeparture sequence for airlines and reduce errors. With the click of a button, a route can be uploaded to the FMS. I visited the KLM operations control center to learn about it. That story is on page 25. Just think of the ways a similarly designed system could work for maintainers in the hangar.

“Connectivity big data, IoT, cybersecurity, augmented reality and blockchain…if you don’t know what these things are, you are already behind the power curve.”

I also visited a growing MRO, Flying Colours. The company is expanding and finding ways to bring the collective knowledge of the automobile industry into their hangars to help streamline work and add scheduling consistency. After speaking with Dave Stewart, who was brought in to champion this effort, I saw that change can be made and with the support of technicians who are tired of the “we’ve always done it that way” mentality. Find out more on page 46.

And how’s this for disruption. The new FAA Reauthorization Act “includes a provision that could pose a thorny issue for Americans, in that it offers an opportunity for the FAA to potentially side-step traditional rulemaking processes in favor of acceptance of foreign rules.” Mind blown. Find out more from our legal expert, Jason Dickstein in his Legal Spin column entitled, “Accepting Foreign Airworthiness Directives – A More Dramatic Change Than It Might Appear.”

Lastly, we hope you will take a listen to our first sponsored podcast that will be on our website by the time this hits mailboxes. We talked with Matt Mruk, director of business development with Proto Industrial Tools to learn about their aerospace compliance standards, commitment to safety and some of the cool products that can help maintainers do their jobs to the highest level. More info about this episode on page 37. We hope you will take a listen and please stay tuned for more regular podcasts coming from Aviation Maintenance Magazine soon.

Hope you enjoy the issue and may it inspire you to think about, and perhaps even create, the next wave of disruption for aviation maintenance.

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