Realizing paperless maintenance and operations has been the target of airlines, MRO service providers (MROs) and OEMs in recent decades, especially in the last few years. With the increased adoption of electronic technical logbooks and digital solutions in maintenance, a growing number of airlines are getting close to going 100% paperless in their internal operations. However, that development is less well advanced when it comes to external communication. Data sharing is essential for efficient collaboration in the industry, for example, in outsourced maintenance and component service activities, supporting digital twin initiatives and leasing agreements.

Room For Improvement

The potential for improvement is evident when considering the status quo in data sharing processes. Airlines, OEMs and MROs all manage asset data digitally in their own systems, but when the data is sent externally, it is exported onto a PDF or paper document. The receiving party then manually processes that data into their own system. In my view, the cause for the slow development in automation of data sharing in our industry can be traced down to the underlying dynamic. Namely, the party sending the data fulfills their contractual responsibility for sharing data when sending over a PDF or paper document, but the burden of manual data input is carried by the party receiving the data. To elaborate on this inefficiency and to consider potential solutions, I will next focus on data sharing in engine overhaul processes as a concrete example.

Engine Overhaul

When an engine is removed from the aircraft and sent for overhaul, the airline provides a number of documents to both the engine shop and the engine OEM. The bulk of the data contained in those documents concerns the engine assembly, modification status and utilization. To achieve an up-to-date snapshot of the asset status and to define the work scope for the overhaul, that data is manually entered by the engine shop and OEM operational teams into their respective systems. The obvious shortcomings of the process are the inefficient use of manpower, data quality issues due to human error and, in many cases, delays to maintenance work due to outstanding documentation from the airline.

The solution is, in theory, as obvious. An automated data sharing process, including human-in-the-loop elements, provides immediate tangible improvements to the status quo described above. In practice, this means data needs to be exported from the airline in a machine-readable format, and automated data import to the engine shop’s and OEM’s systems. In between, data transformation and validation are necessary. The manual effort is then reduced to confirming that the data in the airline system is up to date before initiating the export, and a review and approval of received data before it is accepted in the receiving system.

How data exchange works

This solution requires data export capability in the airline’s system, a data exchange solution to transfer, transform and validate the data, and import capability in the engine shop’s and OEM’s systems. For enabling the data exchange, industry-agnostic integration platforms will do the job, but there are a few IT vendors on the market that offer aviation- industry specific data exchange services, tailored for the data in this specific domain. The key question is then, why would the airline develop the required data export capability, when the solution mainly benefits the engine shop and OEM?

Depending on the existing capabilities of the airline’s Maintenance & Engineering (M&E) system, the automation of export and the data validations may be enough to justify the solution. In most cases, however, the airline will require a stronger value proposition. This value can be achieved by automation of the data flows in the other direction, from the engine shop to the airline after the shop visit. When the engine is returned, the engine shop typically provides the assembly, configuration and maintenance data to the airline in PDF format.

By automating the bi-directional data flows between the airline and engine shop before and after maintenance, substantial value is captured by both parties. In addition, the OEM can tap into this data flow to automatically keep its own system up to date. The figure below describes the architecture of these dataflows at a high level.

1) Data from the operator before the maintenance

2) Data from the Engine Shop after the maintenance

Getting data exchange implemented

The OEMs and maintenance service providers are better placed to champion this development, as they deal with a much larger number of engines. Nevertheless, the airline’s role in implementing the data export and import capability in their M&E system is essential. As the benefits to the airline are clear, but relatively fixed, their participation comes down to the implementation cost. This, in turn, depends heavily on the capabilities of the M&E system in use. Some M&E systems have separately licensed interfaces capable of exporting and importing the bulk of the required data, while others have no existing capability. To summarize, there is a clear underlying dynamic that explains the inefficient status quo of data sharing in our industry, but with close collaboration and the right partner for data exchange, considerable value can be created for the airlines, MROs and OEMs.


More Posts

You Might Also Like

Blog
Digital Nomad at QOCO – Elisabeth has spent a month living and working in Bali, Indonesia
This November, Elisabeth Tadoe, our Marketing and Sales Intern, spent a month in Bali - Indonesia. She was eager to share her experience. So, we asked her how things are going.
calendar icon
Dec 1, 2022
Blog
Juuso Nikkanen, Head of Continuous Services
On this employee highlight series, we would like you to get to know our Head of Continuous Services, Juuso Nikkanen.
calendar icon
Dec 1, 2022
News
David Seibel joins QOCO Systems Ltd Advisory Board
QOCO is proud to announce that David Seibel has joined our team as an Advisory Board Member. He brings decades of operational experience from the commercial environment, managing companies across various industries including tech and financial services.
calendar icon
Nov 29, 2022
Blog
How can we attract better gender balance and improve diversity in aviation?
The aviation industry has been male-dominated for too long. Although the number of female pilots has increased in recent years, they still only make up around 6% of all pilots globally. And when it comes to other aviation roles, such as air traffic control or aircraft maintenance, the number of women in these positions is even lower. This needs to change.
calendar icon
Nov 22, 2022
Blog
Work-Life Balance at QOCO Systems
At QOCO Systems, we believe that work-life balance plays a vital role in ensuring a positive employee experience. Consequently, we also feel that by actively supporting our employees in maintaining a healthy work-life balance, we can promote productivity, reduce turnover, and improve employees' mental and physical health.
calendar icon
Nov 18, 2022
Blog
QOCO's Fight Against Human Trafficking
The traffickers exploit the aviation industry to transfer, especially when it comes to importing exploited labor from other countries. This is because traffickers often use airplanes to transport their victims long distances from their home countries.
calendar icon
Nov 15, 2022
Explore ALl Posts