Air Transport World

Configuring by cyberspace.(buyer-furnished equipment management)

It's almost as much fun as a computer game. But playing with it can save tons of paper, thousands of hours and millions of dollars for airframe manufacturers, their suppliers and their airline customers.

It is Electronic Configuration Management, an automated method of defining and controlling the specification for an individual airplane. ECM has been in use by Boeing customers for about three years and began appearing on the PC screens of Douglas Aircraft customers June 30. Airbus says it is "working on" a similar system.

To be precise, only the first phase of the Douglas system, an application that allows airlines to track and manage the buyerfurnished equipment (BFE) going aboard their airplanes, is available. BFE typically includes seats, galleys, avionics and miscellaneous cabin and cockpit equipment. Full ECM capability is scheduled to be in place by the end of the year, says Steven Iverson, who sports the hefty title of business unit manager-change management, design and technology.

At the beginning of 1994, Douglas-- spurred largely by customer demand-- contracted with EDS Management Consuiting Services to streamline its BFE processes. The EDS solution was a client/server, open-system architecture that ties together the standalone computer systems of eight separate Douglas organizations, ranging from engineering to spares management, says EDS Principal Waseem Sheikh.

Its beauty, says Sheikh, is that there was no need to dehost or reprogram the information in the old computers. The new system simply combines all of the myriad data on parts and their status into reports that allow the user to "become a total BFE administrator."

Airlines can tap into the system via modem or the Internet from any IBM-compatible 486 PC with Windows. …

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