Data is often described as the ‘new oil’ due to its importance in modern economies, but according to Boeing it’s more like the new sunlight.
Steve McFeely, managing director maintenance and MRO solutions, digital aviation solutions, at the OEM giant told the Predictive Aircraft Maintenance Conference “if you have no data you have nothing”.
“It [data] powers modern economies in the same way oil powered traditional economies. But we prefer to think of data as the new sunlight; it’s sustainable, renewable, and it keeps on generating economic value for ever, and the more you have the more value you can generate.
“What we should really be talking about is how we drive value. We are clearly at an inflection point. Recent advances in machine learning, generative AI and other advances like quantum computing will transform what’s possible.
“We think the right approach is to assume every operational aspect of flight will increasingly be data driven.
“But unlike in the past where so many insight came after the fact, the winners will be the ones which can harness the data in real time. In the moment is what matters most.
“Real transformation comes when you are able to integrate data across all of your teams to allow 360 degree situation awareness to generate situational insights to make the right decision at the right time all of the time.”
McFeely said Boeing is investing heavily in platforms that support digital decision flows that he said will revolutionise how the aviation sector operates.
Being proactive in terms of looking at trends and “computing at the edge” will create new reports and algorithms that will be able to update models in real time and be specifically configured for individual circumstances.
McFeely said while there is a lot of activity going on today in this field there “is room to grow and mature technology applications”.
This will see innovations introduced like maintenance credits and a broader integration of TechOps and FlightOps to optimise operations.
“We have to collaborate across the aviation industry to be successful in this journey,” said McFeely. “It’s not just OEMs and airlines, it’s across functions and organisations, including component suppliers and MROs as well.”
McFeely called on the sector to leverage innovation and to use advances like Artificial Intelligence to accelerate and augment what human data scientists are capable of.
He said the most important thing is to collaborate and to take action. Boeing acknowledges airlines have their own systems so from next year the firm will launch the capability to integrate with third-party algorithms.
Boeing has also been working with airlines and regulators on a data-driven approach to four MSG-3 tasks that have been defined and that will be rolled out in early 2024.
“You have got to build out this eco-system and share and create that value together. We have to find a way to collaborate, to create this eco-system and publish all of those alerts that are generated from engineering communities to a single place.”