Air Transport World

Tool of the future: predictive maintenance solutions are no longer a technological novelty but another helpful tool for cost-conscious airlines.(MRO Technology Solutions)

PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE solutions for aircraft and engines may be as common someday as yield management systems, but today's cost-conscious environment hampers investment in any product that can't offer an immediate payback.

Carriers using the software freely admit the difficulty of quantifying the actual savings in reduced delays or cancellations and improved dispatch reliability. Yet customers with whom ATW spoke confirm its value.

Take the example of Airbus's client-based AIRMAN system, introduced in 2000 for fly-by-wire aircraft and currently in use at more than 30 airlines (it often is included with purchase of the aircraft). Users say it has helped reduce flight delays and cancellations by monitoring onboard systems and predicting if and when maintenance is needed.

"I'm always a bit cynical about the hype manufacturers give to these devices, but this is a very powerful tool," says JetBlue Airways Senior VP-Tech Ops and Aircraft Programs Tom Anderson. The New York-based LCC was one of the first to test and adopt AIRMAN for its fleet of A320s. Although it has yet to validate the sys tem formally, "We're starting to see positive results with this technology," Anderson says. The product allows the airline to be "proactive" in resolving problems before they happen and avoiding unnecessary maintenance, he adds. Ultimately, JetBlue wants to integrate AIRMAN along with other predictive maintenance solutions for powerplants into its new maintenance facilities being built in Orlando and New York. …

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