All aviation firms would like to get rid of the masses of paper maintenance documents, but going paperless has been a struggle. Now the FAA has approved EmpowerMX’s FleetCycle electronic task cards for a major airline. EmpowerMX Senior VP Mark Shulz says this is the first scheduled airline to be approved by FAA for both electronic routine and non-routine maintenance task cards. He reports past implementations of these digital cards have reduced check labor 10-42% and turnaround times by 20%.
The digital cards will work seamlessly with FleetCycle’s production manager software, giving real-time visibility of task completion and streamlining audit and record functions. E-signatures will be recorded. Fully electronic task cards are stored automatically, eliminating scanning and indexing of paper cards.
More adoptions probably lie ahead. The FleetCycle MRO Manager, which can create and manage electronic task cards, is used by carriers such as American, Delta, United and Southwest as well as Embraer, AAR and Coopesa.
Shulz says his last two implementation of electronic task cards took 14 weeks and 16 weeks. “This is typical of the first phases of implementation. Follow-on phases and integrations can take three to four months, depending on program complexity.”
The FleetCycle software can also support a hybrid maintenance system that combines paper cards, electronic management of paper cards and fully electronic cards. E-signatures can be applied wherever possible. “For example, if full electronic work instructions are available in XML, total automation can occur with electronic sign offs at a step level in the task card,” Shulz explains.
The biggest hurdle to using e-signatures is thus availability of electronic data. Generally, electronic bills of work or work orders are always available. Where electronic task content is available, a full electronic process can be created with e-signatures. “As electronic data is increased, a full electronic process can be implemented,” Shulz explains.
The FleetCycle software focuses on production efficiency and is very advanced in this area. It can integrate with other MRO or ERP systems that handle maintenance programs, configuration, materials and logistics.
Having worked with about a hundred airlines and MROs over the years, EmpowerMX staff estimate that 95% of maintenance providers and operators still use paper work cards. Shulz sees that as a “tremendous opportunity” for electronic task cards and e-signatures.
In any case, EmpowerMX has been growing steadily and expects to continue that growth. New contracts in Latin America are being implemented in the first quarter of 2018, and Shulz sees increased acceptance of electronic maintenance data and e-signatures in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middles East and Africa.