Accelerating digital development, making the most of large amounts of data, industry collaboration, and data standardisation were among the key themes of the Predictive Aircraft Maintenance 2022 conference, which was held this week in London, UK.
More than 100 delegates were in attendance at the Pan Pacific London hotel for what was a very positive, informative and forward-thinking event. Experts in the field of predictive maintenance were able to share knowledge and network with those who were curious about the benefits of the solutions they are offering.
Attendees heard from a range of speakers from Airbus, Lufthansa Technic, Air France Industries KLM Engineering and Maintenance, GE Aviation, StandardAero, easyJet, Cranfield University, Engine Lease Finance Corporation, Gamit, Rusada and Aerogility.
Richard Brown, managing director of NAVEO Consultancy, chaired the Predictive Aircraft Maintenance conference. He opened the event with an exploration of the importance of data. “There has been exponential growth in data due to increasing digitisation across the aviation industry,” he said. “This data is being leveraged – or could be – to improve numerous aspects of airline operations, including maintenance, repair and overhaul. The challenge now is leveraging this data, accessing it, analysing it, and avoiding drowning in it!
“By leveraging the latest aircraft health management technology, it’s possible to reduce unscheduled maintenance and turn unplanned and costly into something predictable, planned, and manageable.”
Two excellent and insightful presentations followed, exploring how some current predictive maintenance solutions are doing just as Brown described, how these solutions work, and where they are heading. Lufthansa Technik’s head of digital fleet solutions Mia Witzig began with an analysis of the company’s AVIATAR platform, which was followed by Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance’s predictive maintenance lead Rob Stolk’s overview of his company’s PROGNOS solution.
A session on a range of software, analytics and digital offerings followed, with the aim of showing how data can be assessed to create actionable solutions. Aerogility’s head of AI Simon Miles discussed the benefits of model-based artificial intelligence, while Rusada’s global pre-sales director David Purfurst explained the advantages of his company’s ‘ENVISION’ software platform and explored the ways in which a fractured ecosystem in predictive maintenance can come together like pieces in a puzzle.
Gamit’s managing director Nadeem Muhiddin concluded the session by noting the importance of getting all aspects of digitalisation right – otherwise any benefits of predictive maintenance solutions might just be lost elsewhere. Gamit’s ‘ROAM’ online enterprise solution, for example, uses advanced technologies to deliver an innovation document management platform. He also explained the need for standardisation of data sets. “We are still in the midst of standardisation, and it is hard to share data without this,” he said. “Everyone in this room has a part to play in achieving this.”
Dr Ip-Shing Fan, senior lecturer in enterprise solutions at Cranfield University, then provided an academic perspective on predictive maintenance, as he outlined the work of the Cranfield Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre’s Digital MRO Lab, which supports automation of activities as well as data analytics leading to predictive maintenance. “We need a holistic view of a whole operation, and not just technology, we need to factor in business intention,” he said. “Aircraft becoming intelligent and conscious is where we are heading to.” Dr Fan also noted that there weren’t currently “enough people in the industry who understand the power of information”. It is hoped the conference will help make a step forward in this direction.
StandardAero’s regional sales and service manager Airlines & Fleets Guillaume Limouzy concluded the morning sessions with a presentation on how his company is optimising engine health monitoring – making sure everything is “at the right time, in the right place and with the right person”.
Following lunch, the stage was set for two high-level panel discussions exploring “the good, the bad, and the future” of predictive maintenance. The first panel featured two MRO companies and two OEMS, with Lufthansa Technik’s senior manager customer development Nils Westermann; Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance’s Rik van Lieshout; Airbus’ head of digital sales and marketing David Marty; and GE Aviation’s fleet support director, customer and product support operations David Harper participating.
Marty said that it must become an industry objective to accelerate the digital transformation. He said: “Digital transformation is not an option: the only question is, when do you want to start?”
Van Lieshout said the development of predictive maintenance solutions must go faster, and noted the importance of collaboration. “No one company will solve it all, and all issues will not be fixed in six months – but steps are being made.”
The second panel got the views of an airline, a leasing company and a software company. It featured easyJet’s predictive maintenance specialist Craig Lynch; Engine Lease Finance Corporation’s Rory O’Donnell; and Rusada’s Purfurst. Lynch offered insights into easyJet’s use of Airbus’ Skywise platform, noting that 35 cancellations had been avoided in August due to predictive maintenance. This is just the tip of the iceberg. “We’ve only recently been able to accurately measure the benefits,” he said, but explained that such solutions were yielding excellent results across the industry and promised much more.
O’Donnell’s main questions about predictive maintenance involved data ownership, sharing, and transparency – there are many commercial implications and much needs to be done in the field of predictive maintenance to push past these concerns. However, O’Donnell added that from all he had heard throughout the day, he was convinced of the potential of predictive maintenance solutions.
The Predictive Aircraft Maintenance 2022 conference concluded with a session involving aircraft manufacturer Airbus and engine OEM GE Aviation. Airbus’ digital solutions marketing manager Stephane Colombier and Skywise predictive maintenance customer representative Petros Manaras gave more details on the Skywise platform and looked at what the future might hold. Manaras said there had to be a culture of collaboration within the industry in order to unlock the massive gains that predictive maintenance can achieve – including fuel savings, a hot topic as sustainability becomes ever more important. “The benefits of predictive maintenance keep on rising,” he said. “Users continue to ask us to work on different pain points.”
GE Aviation’s Harper explored the past, present and future of aircraft engine analytics-based maintenance, noting that three key things were needed: domain expertise, a strong portfolio of analytics, and a large data set.
“Feedback drives continuous improvement, and we recognise that every situation is unique,” he said. “We are excited by new analytics technologies. Ultimately, it is all about helping the people in the front line make the best decisions possible, and so move closer to optimised maintenance.”
Networking was also key to the success of the Predictive Aircraft Maintenance 2022 conference. A welcome reception, sponsored by EirTrade Aviation, took place on the evening of 15 November. The event ended with a networking reception sponsored by Bolloré Logistics, after the conclusion of the conference on 16 November.
The Predictive Aircraft Maintenance 2022 conference was organised by Real Response Media and MRO Management magazine.
EirTrade Aviation was the Gold Sponsor for the event; Bolloré Logistics was the Silver Sponsor, with Lufthansa Technik, Gamit Aerospace and StandardAero Bronze Sponsors. AJW Group, PDQ Airspares and ToolLive were supporting sponsors.
The Predictive Aircraft Maintenance event website can be viewed here. Look out for a report on the conference in the upcoming issue of MRO Management.