Aftermarket-focused analytics are generating real-world returns, but an MRO “big data revolution” remains far off as operators tread carefully in search of tangible and scalable benefits, Oliver Wyman’s 2016 MRO Survey said.
Airlines, aided by aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 and increasingly sophisticated OEM programs, are embracing data-driven aircraft health measurement (AHM) and predictive maintenance (PM), the survey found. However, “sophistication at the user level remains nascent,” Oliver Wyman noted.
The survey found that 56% of operators use AHM for some or all of their aircraft, while 44% use PM. Not surprisingly, engine maintenance, the largest slice of the MRO revenue pie at 36%—Aviation Week’s Commercial Fleet & MRO Forecast shows—is the most sophisticated arena. Nearly 90% of respondents said they apply AHM—primarily condition monitoring—to their motors, while 42% leverage PM.
But while use of data-driven MRO programs may be broadening, it remains shallow at the organizational level. “Fifty-nine percent of airline respondents plan to restrict AHM use to small subsets of data, either directly or through a third party, rather than pursuing a broad or comprehensive approach,” the survey found. “For those using PM, 83% focus on narrow subsets, while only one in five expects to apply predictive techniques to all available data.”
Part of the problem is that there are too many numbers. Newer aircraft “capture reams of data not available from previous-generation aircraft, creating new storage, organization and application challenges,” Oliver Wyman noted. “As a result, many operators report modest big data programs, reflecting limited readiness for these new challenges.”
While early adopters are proceeding with caution, they are helping create a fragmented market for services.
AHM is being dominated by OEMs, particularly on the engine side. GE’s recent migration to Predix, an internally developed software platform, has jump-started its ability to crunch fleet data and extract meaningful takeaways. On the airframe side, both Boeing and Airbus are slowly growing their health-monitoring and data analytics customers—in part bolstered by new, capable aircraft. An A320 generates information from about 20,000 data sources, Airbus said, compared to 200,000 for an A380 and more than 400,000 for an A350.
PM is seeing more diverse options, with some choosing customized systems or “bespoke offerings” from outside aviation.
While OEMs are clearly out front, Oliver Wyman suggested their “narrow focus” means the head-start is not likely to last.
“As with the traditional parts-and-service aftermarket, [OEMs’] interest is unlikely to extend beyond their own equipment,” the consultancy added.