You might wonder, how would aircraft phase-in be relevant to airlines and their engineering teams during the current downturn in the industry? Indeed, phasing out aircraft might seem more relevant, however just think of some of these industry scenarios currently happening:
- Cargo airlines expanding their fleet based on passenger-to-freighter conversions to meet increased cargo demand, such as ASL airlines (Learn More)
- Airlines replacing older generation aircraft with more fuel-efficient aircraft. Such as KLM replacing its B737-700 and some older E190 aircraft with the Embraer E2jet (Learn More)
- Replacing larger aircraft in the fleet with smaller aircraft to tailor to reduce seat demand on routes. (Learn More)
With engineering teams under increased scrutiny on costs and potentially even less FTE to support the overall technical operations and airworthiness management it seems useful to revisit some important pieces of managing aircraft airworthiness data during and before the actual phase-in of a new aircraft to the fleet. Afterall, a later entry-into-service remains as costly to an operator as ever before.
In general, welcoming a new aircraft to the fleet is overall a moment of joy, isn’t it? It enables new routes, more frequencies, more efficiency and for passenger airlines also a better customer experience. However, for the engineering team it is a moment of stress, hard work and a lot of data to process:
- The aircraft itself and its manufacture serial number (for tracking the modification status later)
- The certified maintenance program, applicable check packaging and individual rotable requirements
- Data for the actual utilization of the aircraft(s); its TAH and TAC (true aircraft hours, true aircraft cycles)
And is with any aircraft phase-ins, also here far too often the challenge on many occasions is the availability and quality of data concerning:
- The parts installed in the aircraft
- Individual due times of requirements
- Back to birth traceability of life limited parts
- The AD status or SB status of the aircraft
- In case of a new aircraft type the supporting airworthiness baseline data to manage the aircraft in an MRO software, such as the MPD, IPC, Damage charts, etc.
- The format in which this information is made electronically available (excel, xml, html, sgml, pdf).
The latter is even applicable for brand new aircraft delivered from the factory, as all too often issues arise from the OEM's delivered list of installed components.
At the end of last year, our long-term partner, ASL Aviation Group, also received a new aircraft – the first ever ATR72-600F production build freighter. In order to tackle the challenge in getting the data into the system on-time and without any stress and hazzle, EXSYN supported ASL in getting all the necessary data of this brand new aircraft into their MRO software system AMOS.
Below, we outline a few more customer use cases as an example on how the overall phase-in process can be improved for your airline.
1. (Deep) Consistency Analysis
There is a heavy emphasis on due diligence for the receiving side during an aircraft phase-in. When receiving the aircraft, there is always the (un)pleasant surprise of finding out what data comes with it or might be missing.
EXSYN had multiple experiences with this, how TITAN, through its deep consistency checks, was able to prevent issues and manual corrected BEFORE data went into the systems.In multiple occasions it prevented lengthy correction actions or even prolonged AOG periods.
One specific case revolved around the aircraft utilisation matching against the actual maintenance history.
The previous operator had corrected the utilisation of the aircraft at one point, resulting in a difference of 300 cycles. This was, however, not corrected in the technical records, which, if undetected, would result in incorrect next dues for maintenance requirement. A major airworthiness risks!
TITAN detected this early, because it always compared actual aircraft utilization (when available) to the maintenance history. Not only did it detect and reported, it also aligned the history again to the utilization, by finding the correct leg and associated TAH/TAC based on date, time and station at which the maintenance was performed.
As this utilisation change was unnoticed for 3 years, TITAN prevented a long AOG and saved the customer in question weeks of work to manually correct the data.
The automatic consistency analysis also saves a lot of time to verify that all the required data is complete. It speeds up the process of a first data scan significantly, from weeks to 1 or 2 days. Making the process of accepting and requiring the data with the previous operator/owner much more efficient.
2. Missing Pieces
Not to speak of a new fleet type, that requires additional set-up in your M&E system.
Setting up a system for a new aircraft type is a tedious process. New maintenance programs, new parts, new modifications, publications and so on need to be added to the system. Some might already be present on which applicability needs to be updated, other data might need to be set-up from scratch.
For numerous phase-ins, EXSYN deployed RPA scrapers to download a full modification package from the authority and OEM portals, to be automatically processed via TITAN and loaded into the M&E system. This gave a massive head start, where 75% of the information is prefilled and the engineers can focus their skills and expertise on perfecting the data instead of sourcing and copying it.
A similar scenario that we’ve seen is helped by the use of EXSYN’s automation, is the loading of parts and alternates data for new aircraft types. Again, EXSYN deploys scrapers to read IPCs and Portals, but also has an extensive database in its data warehouse. This allows to rapidly build a parts database in your E&M system, which, instead of creating it from scratch, will only require fine-tuning and customizations.
3. New Aircraft from OEM
Aircraft delivered new from the OEM, will be accompanied with a set of data reflecting the airworthiness status of the aircraft at point of delivery to the airline. OEM’s follow standard definitions on how this data is digitally provided to airlines. Based on these standard definitions per OEM, EXSYN has developed automated processing routines that are available within TITAN to process this aircraft data and transform it into a format compatible with multiple MRO software’s used in the market. Think of TRAX, AMOS, RAMCO, OASES, Envision, etc. Next to TITAN being fully compatible with the S1000D standard, also any other “non-official” standards can be supported.
4. Loading Data (no typos)
Overall, bulk uploading data into an already populated E&M system can be complex and, depending on the system, even not (entirely) possible. During the phase-in of aircraft, multiple technical areas will need to be covered with interdependencies between them.
For example, the induction of all the installed components. This requires that all parts are defined, part requirements are set, the components (PN/SN) itself are defined with the correct life values, component assemblies are built, and any historic relevant data is transferred over.
EXSYN uses a combination of ETL, RPA and native interfaces to automate the data entry into any system, even if there is no direct support for bulk data entry (e.g. TRAX). This executes the above process in the correct sequence and ensure data consistency throughout. Preventing typo’s and circumventing any limitations in the system through built-in data upload functionality.
While phase-ins in a perfect world, could be fully automated, from EXSYN’s experience in the above use cases, the human touch is still a hard requirement. Nonetheless, automation can help to significantly speed up the process and enhance the overall data quality, allowing the actual engineers to focus on the important details instead of bulk processing.
How EXSYN can help
EXSYN's team of aircraft data and aviation experts utilize a proven framework and methodology that has been applied to millions of terabytes of master data and includes:
- EXSYN’s ETL tool TITAN to reduce project costs and duration
- EXSYN’s data warehouse to accelerate your phase-ins
- Set up the best strategy for your situation based on years of experience
- Migration of both structured and unstructured data
- ISO 27001 data security certified migration approach