Enhancing Aircraft System Monitoring and Reducing Unscheduled Maintenance

Tech Briefs Media Group

Published in Tech Briefs

It can be laborious and time-consuming to troubleshoot and repair systems on aircraft. Without granular data, it can be difficult for maintenance personnel to identify what part of a system is faulty and it can take a long time to remove, test, and reinstall parts of a system until the culprit is found. Worse, if a failure occurs that unexpectedly grounds an aircraft, it can mean severe disruption and expense for the airline.

Aircraft may have a huge amount of data available but this doesn’t mean it’s the right data to troubleshoot a problem. Typically, aircraft will have certain systems that are more problematic than others but there may not be sufficient instrumentation on these systems to indicate when a failure is impending or to help isolate what part in a potentially large system needs to be replaced.

This article discusses the problem of inefficient maintenance, lack of access to the right data, and how aircraft can be retrofitted with instrumentation to more quickly identify impending failures, rapidly repair them, and minimize aircraft downtime and maintenance time.

Commercial air travel is a highly competitive business with potential customers having a slew of price comparison websites to quickly and easily find the best prices for a particular journey. While different airlines have other benefits to offer (superior customer service, reliability, in-flight comfort and entertainment, more convenient flight times, etc.), price is a key consideration. Thus, airlines are always looking for ways to keep costs low so they can pass these savings on to their customers.

A big emphasis on controlling costs a few years ago was fuel efficiency. Fuel prices in the early 90s were often higher than $120 (a barrel), which strongly motivated carriers to look for more efficient aircraft and retire older models; however, this motivation has diminished as prices dropped dramatically in the mid-90s. This has resulted in airlines flying older aircraft that have more maintenance requirements. Keeping these maintenance costs low is now a vital part of maintaining a competitive edge.

Read the full article.