Air Transport World

Giving the mechanic a hand: cutting-edge wireless systems bring engineering and maintenance data to the hangar floor and ramp, hut plenty of low-hanging fruit remains to he plucked through system automation.

As airline and third-party maintenance, repair and overhaul shops slowly make the transition into the latest generation of database, resource planing and management solutions, the availability of wireless transmission presents forward-looking organizations with a further opportunity to streamline and speed the maintenance workflow. For example, Goodrich Aviation Technical Services in Everett, Wash., has harnessed the power of wireless to slash initial inspection times by as much as 66% while contributing to an overall 25% reduction in D check workflow, according to President Dave Shaw.

The key to the shortened inspection times is the use of PDA-size handheld devices to input nonroutine inspection data that then can be transmitted instantaneously over a wireless local area network Texas-based Perceptive Solutions handled the customized programming of the handhelds and the interface to network systems, including the Oracle maintenance tracking database system.

Shaw says that before introduction of the wireless devices, "when the aircraft arrived and was opened up for access, inspectors would descend with paper and nonroutine documents customized for each customer in accordance with their maintenance program. Inspectors would document all of their findings and then they would write up individual nonroutines for each funding." On a heavy D check, that might be "500-1,000 nonroutines." At the end of the shift, the paper forms would be hand-delivered to production control supervisors. The supervisors then would have to look up the proper authorized repair or approved action to be taken, document the corrective action with references, prepare the document for customer approval and get it back to a mechanic, a process that took up to three days.

Today, instead of paper forms inspectors carry handhelds that are linked to the maintenance computer system. …

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