Airbus has marched ahead with plans to grow its aftermarket business after signing a deal to provide predictive maintenance services for Easyjet’s fleet of almost 300 A320-family aircraft.
Using the Skywise data platform launched at the 2017 Paris air show, Easyjet engineers can anticipate problems, removing and replacing at-risk components ahead of failure.
In practice, this will probably involve technicians from third-party MRO providers doing the physical work, since the low-cost carrier outsources most of its maintenance.
At Easyjet’s London Gatwick hangar, for example, Lufthansa Technic (LHT) provides AOG support and two maintenance inputs per night. At the same airport, AJ Walter is responsible for Easyjet’s component repair and overhaul, supply of consumables, and management of the airline's spares inventory.
It is likely that those parties and others have been involved in the three-year trial of Skywise by Easyjet and Airbus.
Easyjet’s new CEO, Johan Lundgren, says that Skywise “will transform the way that we maintain and operate our aircraft with the long term aim of eliminating delays due to technical faults”.
In the future Skywise could also be used to improve the efficiency of scheduled maintenance events by predicting, say, the materials needed for a heavy check.
“We can data mine for a 15-year-old A320 what tasks, material and documentation it will probably need. It’s about having the right parts at the right place at the right time so we can reduce turnaround times,” Laurent Martinez, head of Services by Airbus, told MRO Network last week.
Hooking Easyjet’s aircraft up to the Skywise platform requires the installation of the FOMAX (flight operations and maintenance exchanger) system on each aircraft.
Supplied by Rockwell Collins, FOMAX increases by 60 times the amount of aircraft performance data that can be collected and transmitted in flight, allowing for better predictive maintenance.
The system is to be installed on all new A320s from 2018. Retrofits for Easyjet’s fleet should be completed by summer 2019.