Opportunity Knocks

by Andrew Drwiega, Editor-in-Chief

The international MRO market has strong and sustainable growth ahead of it. Boeing has revealed that the Chinese market will need 6,810 new aircraft over the next 20 years, over 5,000 of which will be single-aisle aircraft. All those aircraft need maintenance and engineering expertise, not all of which can be provided to the level required internally.

The need for good engineers now has an added dimension. The Embry-Riddle story in this issue tells of engineers now embarking on degree qualifications, some of which are combined with (could it be true?) management courses. As the military has discovered over the last couple of decades, aircraft are a system of systems and the days of a few good men skilled in the use of their toolkit is growing smaller in the rear view mirror.

Look at most commercial aircraft: they boast digital avionics, heath and usage system (HUMS), passenger entertainment, satellite communications – they are akin to flying digital and electronics hubs.

The data collected by each aircraft runs into gigabytes for every flight. Multiply this by the amount of data collected by each airline across its fleet and add in the additional date scooped up by the MRO servicing that airline. The next step would be to share all that data among airlines and MROs (yeah – that’s going to happen) which would provide a substantial picture that could be beneficial to everyone. Even small advances in cooperation could provide significant advances for many.

Airlines might be able to benefit from best practice techniques when analysing flight and maintenance procedures and patterns, and perhaps refine optimum maintenance times that would be best suited for their own company’s strategic service offering.

Predictive maintenance has become very important for every airline looking to secure profits and ensure their aircraft keep flying. The economics or running airlines is hazardous enough, and keeping to schedules has been made difficult by having to deal with everything from terrorism and the necessary security checks, through to what seems to be an increase in adverse weather around the globe.