Aircraft IT MRO – May/June 2014

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Aircraft IT MRO – May/June 2014 Cover

Articles

Name Author
Case Study: Facing up to the IT challenge of offshore helicopter operations Brian P. McDonald, Principal & Managing Director, SFS Aviation Thailand View article
Mobility Deep Dive – Future Mobility Platforms Paul Saunders, Global Product Manager, Flatirons Solutions View article
Column – How I see IT Michael Wm. Denis View article
Also a business process – Air Works Case Study Ravinder Pal Singh (Ravi), CTO and CIO, Air Works View article
Lost in Translation? – Data Warehousing Tim Alden, Commercial Director, Rusada View article

Column – How I see IT

Author: Michael Wm. Denis

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In the age of Netflix and GoGo, Why isn’t aircraft data real?
Michael Wm. Denis Column: How I see IT..
 
For the first time since 2001, I missed Aviation Week’s #MROAM event: it was to attend the Abu Dhabi Global Aerospace Summit #ADG14; definitely the right choice.

The Summit is an invitation only, biannual forum bringing together international senior executives from across the aerospace, aviation and space sectors for four days of thought leadership and future growth strategies. Abu Dhabi has squarely established itself as the ‘Davos of aviation’, along with Seattle and Toulouse, where CxOs come to set the vision and agenda for the future. Common themes repetitively highlighted on the open panels included manufacturing technology innovations such as additive 3D printing, advancements in air traffic control, leaning and synchronizing manufacturing and MRO networks, and partnerships for collaboration.

Aiming for the Moon

A highlight of the Summit that everyone was talking about was Dr. Buzz Aldrin’s impassioned keynote presentation of the Apollo space program as the benchmark of what can be accomplished when government and industry partner and set definitive goals with specific timelines. During Dr. Aldrin’s speech, I couldn’t help but think about the chasm between conquering putting a man on the moon in a decade, over four decades ago, versus our industry’s current inability for two airlines with different IT systems to simply exchange a visit package, task cards, maintenance records, or real-time performance data even after decades of industry standardization efforts.

Information technology and the role of #AeroIT in enabling lean manufacturing, service parts optimization, labor productivity, mobility, etc… was the least directly discussed topic by far.

Lessons from disaster

In the hallways, there were also considerable discussions about Malaysia MH370; what happened, would we ever find the aircraft, and what the ramifications for the industry will be, mainly around ‘real time’ aircraft performance data communications and combining the lessons learned and recommendations from Air France AF447.

Mary Schreivo, ex FAA Inspector General turned CNN commentator recently said, “The importance of accidents to regulations in the United States [is significant]. We call the FAA the tombstone agency … because they [regulate] by counting tombstones. And that’s not… being flippant because, in fact, they have to do a cost-benefit analysis before they put forth any regulation.” Some believe the loss of MH370 is a seminal event that will change the industry.

The meaning of ‘real’

Real time’ data communications isn’t a technology challenge; it isn’t a cost issue, although some airlines may argue it should be. Preventing another AF447 or MH370 is simply a matter of will. Synonyms for ‘real’ are ‘genuine’, ‘authentic’, ‘factual’, ‘valid’ and ‘true’. Because of airworthiness, we expect aircraft data to be real – just not necessarily real time, real interoperable, or real standard. Data, information, content, and knowledge are the oils that lubricate the system of systems that ensures airworthiness, as well as improves product lifecycles, supply networks, aircraft dispatch rates and asset utilization; ultimately improving the passenger experience and cost.

Which returns me to my opening question; ‘In the age of Netflix on-demand video and GoGo in flight WiFi, why isn’t aircraft data real time and real seamlessly interoperable?’

Maybe by the next Global Aerospace Summit in 2016, aircraft data will be real. At least that’s how I’d like to see IT.

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