Airbus creating a digital future as Covid crisis “unleashes creative energy” and accelerates services revolution

Out of the Covid-19 crisis has come opportunity for Airbus Services, according to the aircraft manufacturer’s senior vice president, head of customer services Klaus Roewe. The company detailed advancements in a number of areas – such as maintenance programmes, aircraft recycling, training and USM trading – in an online media briefing held yesterday (14 October).

The manufacturer is also launching a new 24/7 support service called ‘Customer Care Center’ on 1 December 2021 “to anticipate and enhance in-service fleet support”.

“The Covid-19 [situation] has unleashed creative energy we wouldn’t had without the crisis,” Roewe said.

The above video offers an introduction to Airbus Services and its offerings

Perhaps more than anything else, the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the need to become more digital, as the efficiencies previously sought became even more vital. Roewe has noted a “turn in the industry” over the past 20 months.

“Digitalisation is about to revolutionise commercial aviation like it is doing in other sectors,” said Airbus’ senior vice president, head of innovation and digital solutions Lionel Rouby.

Airbus said it had calculated US$42 billion worth of inefficiencies in the industry annually – of which it believes digitalisation can save US$10 billion. Savings in unplanned maintenance could tally US$1.8 billion.

Skywise is an open data platform for the aviation industry. Photo: Airbus

Rouby noted that Airbus’ aviation data sharing platform ‘Skywise’ had been instrumental in the Covid crisis “with its parking management application and then for operational restart”, and would continue to be key to future efficiency.

The Skywise platform continues to grow, with certified partners being added and offering new areas of expertise, Rouby said. Skywise’s app store is also growing, while initiatives such as the Digital Alliance between Airbus, Delta TechOps and GE Digital are taking off.

Changing services

Looking at the maintenance side of Airbus Services’ offerings, Roewe said that the industry has undergone “significant change” as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. In most cases a “grace period” for scheduled tasks had been implemented, while there had been heavy demand for parking and storage services.

Roewe also noted the “huge challenge” of returning aircraft to service, but said that maintenance markets (along with pilot training) would lead the recovery and is “coming back first”. He said Airbus Services had additionally found a lot of “golden nuggets” to create more efficient maintenance programmes, and these developments will last longer than the crisis.

Airbus Customer Services supports airline customers with spares supplies and standard manuals, training offers for technicians and pilots, and offers like Flight Hour Services. Photo: Airbus

A major challenge in maintenance will be to attract and train the huge amount of technicians that the industry will need in the next five years, Roewe said. Retirements and profession changes have exacerbated the imbalance between supply and demand for technicians, while the faster-than-anticipated recovery has created an even more pressing need. “We train, train, train,” Roewe said.

Airbus Services is also expanding its offerings, with new business models, and is keen to work with “strong partners” in the industry and will “look further into integrating services”, according to Roewe.

The company’s Flight Hour Services programme has been successful despite the crisis, with 11 contracts signed and “quite a few more to come”. All expiring contracts have been renewed too, Roewe added.

With its subsidiary Satair, Airbus offers spare parts distribution worldwide. Photo: Airbus

In other areas of expansion, Roewe noted that interest in used serviceable material (USM) was accelerating in Asia Pacific and China, and catching up to Europe and the USA. Airbus will therefore adapt to this new demand, and its aircraft component and service subsidiary Satair opened a digital marketplace earlier this year in a first step to achieving that ambition.

Airbus will also increase its aircraft recycling services via its joint venture (with Safran and Suez) Tarmac Aerosave, with Roewe noting that 14,000 aircraft will be taken out of service in the next two decades. “Development outside of Europe is under investigation,” he said. “We are looking at expanding to other areas of the world.”

Airbus’ new Customer Care Center will start operations in December 2021. Photo: Airbus


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