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Why Not Connect Dots In Aviation Aftermarket?

Finding connections across disparate data sets will be the key to realizing value from big data for MRO.

Printed headline: Connecting the Dots

United Airlines realigned line maintenance tasks, which improved the airline’s overall reliability and on-time performance. Airframe OEMs are increasing their share of the aftermarket by connecting their service capabilities to unlock value—for themselves, as well as their customers. Copa Airlines is preparing for its Boeing 737 MAX entry into service by coordinating hundreds of tasks among maintenance, flight ops, training, crew and onboard services to ensure the airline is prepared for the new aircraft. 

What do they all have in common? Data analytics that span traditional disciplines—and break down silos.

There are many examples of connecting the dots creatively in our industry—and many times a multidisciplinary way of thinking can create solutions that are not only effective and cost-efficient but more streamlined, too. Step back and look at a business process or a challenge that you have. Could some of the information and insights you need be in another department or trapped on paper filed away someplace else?

Look at best practices being used in other industries. Chris Rospenda, IBM’s worldwide transportation leader for connected operations, points to an example in trucking. By effectively using sensors to monitor tires and brakes, truck operators can keep track of temperature as well as tread and brake wear. That same process could be applied in aviation contexts. “RFID used to be expensive but now sensors can be less than a penny a piece,” with 3D printing, he says, and these sensors can be embedded in tires.

It’s clear that collaboration is a key part of the industry’s transformation. Look at what the Seamless Air Alliance, launched on Feb. 26, is trying to do. Airbus, Delta Air Lines, OneWeb, Sprint, Bharti Airel and Gogo are part of this group that hopes to improve the passenger cabin experience by “eliminating the immense costs and hurdles commonly associated with acquisition, installation and operation of data-access infrastructure by streamlining system integration and certification,” according to the group. It’s like a small airline alliance that hopes to connect the dots for inflight connectivity, because it would be difficult for one company to do it all.

Think back to the dot-to-dot pictures you created as a child—carefully connecting each point with a straight line to reveal a picture at the end. The early ones had few dots and the more complicated ones featured hundreds—so they were harder to do—but also revealed a more detailed picture. The pictures you can create in your business are unlimited. The limits are vision and willingness to be bold—to explore something new.

Connect the dots.

That is what will happen at MRO Americas and Military Aviation Logistics and Maintenance Symposium (formerly MRO Military) April 10-12 in Orlando. I hope to see you there.

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