Case Studies

Case Study: Getting the best from new engines at Condor

Nicolas Schneider, AMOS Administrator at Condor, and Dr. Almut Von Schneidemesser, Senior Manager for Aircraft Communications IT at Condor, share how Condor utilized QOCO's solutions to optimize the new engines. In this case study, QOCO's engine data solution seamlessly transmits data from Condor to Rolls-Royce, enabling airlines to fully leverage engine condition analysis and extend the operational life of their Trent engines.

Case studies are a very valuable to look at a subject because, rather than the generic theory of how a solution is designed to work, the study records how it really has worked with an airline in real service. In light of that, the best way that we can start is by telling you about Condor, the airline in question.

CONDOR

Condor has been flying guests to their holiday destinations for more than 66 years and, every year, we fly more than nine million guests from the nine largest airports in Germany, from Zurich in Switzerland and Vienna in Austria, to around ninety destinations worldwide. The fleet of more than fifty aircraft is maintained by our own engineering business, Condor Technik, at the Frankfurt and Dusseldorf locations. At the end of 2022, Condor, as the German launch customer, took delivery of the first new Airbus A330neo long-haul aircraft. An average of one new long-haul aircraft will be flown every month until 2024. Additionally, Condor has orders placed for forty-one short and medium haul aircraft of the Airbus A32Xneo with delivery commencing in 2024.The airline already had a relationship with Rolls-Royce through the A330ceo fleet using previous generations of the Trent engines. But when Condor ordered the A330neos with the latest Trent 7000 engine from Rolls-Royce, the OEM introduced QOCO to Condor as Rolls-Royce’s software partner in facilitating the data transfer necessary to support the engine with the standard duty cycle method of managing engine life and time on wing. From then on, QOCO has worked directly with the airline to explain the solution and the value proposition.

“… when Condor ordered the A330neos with the latest Trent 7000 engine from Rolls-Royce, the OEM introduced QOCO to Condor as Rolls-Royce’s software partner in facilitating the data transfer necessary to support the engine with the standard duty cycle method of managing engine life…”
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WHAT QOCO DID FOR CONDOR

The Trent 7000 is able to generate significant volumes of data to be used in determining its condition in a continual process but, to be useful, that data has to be sent to Rolls-Royce for analysis. QOCO’s contribution is their engine data solution to enable data flows from Condor to Rolls-Royce so that the airline will be able to leverage the full benefit of the engine condition analysis and keep their Trent engines on wing for longer. The potential savings that will deliver can amount to fifty percent additional time on wing, depending on how the engines are used. The key part here is the Rolls-Royce analytics-based service which calculates what happens with the engine during each flight but, of course, for that they need the data. The alternative would be to manually input all of that data to the system in order for it to do the calculations but that would be a huge workload when you consider that data would have to be manually input for each flight with the Trent engines. For an airline with a large fleet, that would not be sustainable. What QOCO’s engine data solution does is to automate the dataflows which then enables that increased time on wing for the engines. We have found QOCO to be a very professional partner in the integration of Condor’s systems with a supplier such as Rolls-Royce. QOCO’s data exchange services have all of the normal elements that you would find on any data exchange platform, such as information security, ISO27000 standard, certified, and more. All of this is industry standard and there are other services also doing this well but QOCO is very specialized in the industry. There are three main things that mark QOCO out in the market.

• First is their industry expertise; they understand the data in airline systems plus they understand the systems used by airlines and the processes involved; you might call it industry specificity. In many cases where QOCO is chosen, it’s often the case that the customer has tried something else and failed, at which point they have realized the complexity of the task which is when QOCO gets called in. There are a lot of nuances in the data stored in airline systems. However, in Condor’s situation, QOCO’s implementation was already part of the Rolls Royce engagement from the start. This was a big advantage for us as we were not forced to find an implementation partner in the market nor try to do the integration on our own.

• Second is plug-ins, the integration capability. QOCO has plug-ins for all of the main systems in the industry which means that when they integrate, there is no development requirement, it’s all plug and play. What is needed is configuration in the QOCO system and the customer’s system with testing, validating the data coming from the airline.

• Third is that QOCO provides a fully managed service. So, whenever there are any interruptions or challenges, they can always be pro-active in providing instructions and leading an investigation of the issue to ensure continuity of the service.

WAYS OF WORKING BEFORE THE NEWSOLUTION

Compared to our legacy fleet, the Trent 7000engines come with new requirements with regards to IT integration. In the past, Condor used mostly email, generating PDFs from AMOS, our MRO system, and sent them to the engine OEM. Given the amount of required data for the Trent 7000, this process is no longer feasible. In truth, that system had already become quite impractical. The major pain point in the process was that it was very time consuming, requiring manpower to get it done because, not being automated, it had to be handled manually. It meant that there were delays in data delivery and, as whenever human intervention is required, there was always the risk of errors occurring. Because it was very time-consuming, that was a pain point in itself so the automation of the process was a significant improvement. We did not have any automated data exchange with OEMs before this and so there was no issue of integration in that sense.

“We will then receive an evaluation of engine condition from Rolls-Royce, that automatically modifies the cycles to standard duty cycles in our AMOS system on a daily basis.”
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USING THE NEW SOLUTION

The QOCO solution is one part of the data exchange between Condor and Rolls-Royce for the new Trent7000 engine, it is delivering a well-designed out of the box interface for the data exchange. It will ultimately totally change the way Condor counts engine cycles. Currently, since mid-May 2023,Condor is using the QOCO solution to send data to Rolls-Royce every day in a fully automated way. In order to make use of the standard duty cycle method, and therefore writing the new cycle values back to AMOS, we are awaiting the authority approval that needs to be granted to Rolls-Royce before we as a customer can make use of the new method. A huge advantage of having the QOCO integration in place from the very first flight is that all data is already now collected by Rolls-Royce, and, as soon as the approval is granted, all flights from the past will be re-evaluated with the new standard duty cycle method.

When the approval has been granted, Condor will switch from daily cycles to standard duty cycles. We will then receive an evaluation of engine condition from Rolls-Royce, that automatically modifies the cycles to standard duty cycles in our AMOS system on a daily basis. From that, we will get updates on the cycles but it will not be normal counters such as‘ takeoff’ and ‘touchdown’. So, if the actual wear on the engines is less, that will enable them to stay on wing for longer which will, in turn, be a real financial benefit for Condor. Instead of the time-limited cycles where every take-off and landing counts as one cycle, standard duty cycles consider the wear and tear caused by the use of the engine during a flight which, under sustainable handling, can be less than a daily cycle.

When QOCO integrates an airline such as Condor, which uses AMOS for its MRO software, the goal is always to utilize existing integration elements or modules of the customer’s system as far as is possible. For example, for the Condor/AMOS integration, QOCO provided detailed instructions as to how the airline’s system should be configured for the integration. Then, on a broader level, the airline needed to check their system architecture. QOCO provided SFTP (Secured File Transfer Protocol) in a secure way to integrate, but typically, airlines have specific IT requirements, a certain way in which they want to integrate things such as the managed file transfer systems. That said, QOCO will try to handle most of that integration for the airline as they have experience of that kind of project.

WORKING WITH QOCO

For Condor, it was an outstanding experience to work with QOCO. Based on the provided manuals and specifications, the implementation was done in an easy and straight forward way. Furthermore, QOCO provided the necessary technical configurations for AMOS and is committed to keep them up-to-date should there be future enhancements or changes. All round, it was a pleasure to work with QOCO and experience their excellent project management and communications during the project. As far as next steps are concerned, we have already said, the next milestone will be when Rolls-Royce obtains regulatory approval for the whole system so that we will be able to use the data coming back. Any system upgrades on Condor’s side will need to be reflected in the QOCO system also; but we are confident that this will not be a problem.

CHALLENGES FACED DURING THEIMPLEMENTATION

Challenges on Condor’s side were the implementation of the new set-up coming with the new type of engines requiring initial configuration by the Engineering department. However, from an IT point of view, we did not face any implementation issues and the set-up plan for the interface was very easy to follow. Of course, we had to test the processes internally to ensure that everything was set up correctly. When it came to challenges faced by QOCO during the implementation, the first thing that comes to mind is data. As Condor placed its original order for 16 A330neos with the new Trent 7000 engines, there was not yet enough production data available when the project was started. However, Condor generated some test data which enabled QOCO to enter data into the system before the engines entered service. That was the biggest challenge at the beginning but everything went smoothly there after when the actual production data was able to be entered into the system. QOCO appreciated the professional approach from the Condor team in helping to move this along.

“One immediate impact is that we will not need additional manpower for the daily operations with everything now automated and ready to work in both directions…”
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IMPACT ON DAILY OPERATIONS

One immediate impact is that we will not need additional manpower for the daily operations with everything now automated and ready to work in both directions once Rolls-Royce is cleared to do that, which will be a huge benefit for Condor. It was easy for us to implement the steps to support the QOCO and Rolls-Royce process within our overall processes. That said, some things did have to change. Since we switched to APN Line Maintenance Manager in AMOS, at more or less the same time, it was kind of a project to get it correctly set-up for the future so we had to manage dependencies here for internal purposes. In terms of the data transfer, we were easily able to get rid of the manual activities: we did not have to change the processes, it just meant that there will no longer be any manual work. It will save time and cost, and will eliminate the risk of human error which, itself, saves further time.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS

Having nearly completed this project and being impressed with the way it has gone, we would be very keen to undertake another project with QOCO should the opportunity arise. Of course, as far as the interface itself is concerned, Condor would not be involved with the development; that would depend on the requirements from Rolls-Royce. Overall, the project ran smoothly and the reliable and cooperative project approach of the whole QOCO team is highly appreciated by us. QOCO reacted on all requests in a very efficient and understanding manner with excellent project management and communication skills. That matters for a company like Condor which works with many providers and appreciates that sort of reliability. That concludes this case study but we hope that it has given readers some insight into Condor’s adoption of an engine data solution from QOCO, how the implementation went and what we expect to gain from using that solution.

Author
image of blog Ekaterina Vuorinen

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