Innovation Inspiration

by Joy Finnegan, Editor in Chief, Aviation Maintenance Magazine

Google Glass. The Tesla electric car. 3D printing. Innovations in our world just keep coming. Technology is advancing at breakneck speed. Is innovation happening in MRO? Or are things still happening in the hangar with the old school thinking and technology of the 50s and 60s?

In this issue we wanted to take a look at the amazing things MROs are doing to stay on top in what is one of the most competitive but necessary business sectors in aviation­—MRO. We were not disappointed. The leading MROs around the world shared some of the most innovative ideas they have put into practice at their facilities. They are impressive.

How much time is spent searching for parts? On the cover you see the MEERA (Mobile Enabled Engine Repair Application) project implemented by TAP M&E. This project uses RFID to track engine components during overhaul with the goal of optimizing the turn-around time. The handheld device can be swept over a storage or shelving unit and, when it senses the part being searched for, an audible alarm goes off. Time saved equals money saved.

An OEM procedure to check the abradable engine shroud on the GE90 engine required 48 hours to perform, if a run-up was required. A clever technician at AFI KLM E&M’s engine facility devised a low-tech alternative procedure using a roll of tape, a pen and a ruler. Hats off to that technician, Claude Dubois, for his creative thinking that reduced the procedure to a quick three hours and doesn’t require fan blade removal, special tooling or a run-up.

Lufthansa Technik told us about their CAIRE program. Initially developed through a research project that focused on finding a complete, reproducible process for repairing composites using a stationary robotic device. Once that process and machine were produced, a further research project began to make the process mobile. Composite Adaptable Inspection and Repair, or CAIRE, was the result.

A version of the robot was developed allowing mobile teams to diagnose and repair large areas of fuselage and wing damage on wing, once again saving time and money.


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