Printed headline: The Backstory
How many times have you heard that you need the right part at the right time in the right place? Getting that formula right is crucial to achieving on-time performance.
That philosophy is analogous to Embraer’s approach to its new E-Jet E2 aircraft and the launch of its IKON big data platform, which are inextricably linked. It wanted to have “a mature airplane as of the first year of operation, with a 99.0% scheduled reliability,” says Johann Bordais, president and CEO of Embraer Services & Support. Predictive maintenance was a key piece of this.
Here’s the backstory.
In 2013, Embraer held workshops with its customers to collect feedback on the E2 concept. It identified about 200 connectivity and health-monitoring requirements. This led Embraer to conceive the E2 with the idea of enhanced connectivity from the beginning.
However, Bordais says their processes at the time lacked the needed agility, and “our bottleneck was data storage, data access and data analysis.” While Embraer was doing some good predictive monitoring based on what it had at the time, in the case of the EMB145 it was extracting some information from Excel spreadsheets.
For the E2, Embraer knew it needed a big improvement in the process of storing data, analyzing it and making maintenance recommendations. This is where IKON comes in. IKON, based on the Amazon Web Services platform, is a cloud-based system that makes storing and analyzing data less expensive and faster because the data can be delivered decoded, based on established algorithms, so engineers and data-reliability specialists can assess performance more efficiently, says Bordais.
The importance of connectivity obviously influenced E2 supplier selection. In designing the aircraft, “critical components and systems with higher impact on airline operations were carefully studied prior to suppliers selection,” with specific conditions contracted, says a company representative. “One of these agreements establishes, for instance, the conditions for removing parts that have not yet failed [and to have them] tested at suppliers’ shops according to the results of IKON’s preventive maintenance algorithms,” says the representative.
It also focused on certain parameters computed inside the controllers of aircraft systems that would be needed for post-flight analysis. For example, “while the aircraft’s deacceleration parameters in the moment it touches the ground are important for having a smooth autopilot landing, it would typically not be required by any other system—and such information would be typically kept inside flight-control systems controllers,” says the source.
The E-Jet E2 generates six times more directly accessible parameters than the E1 and 100 GB of data per aircraft per year, versus 5 MB for the E1.
While Embraer officially launched IKON at the recent Paris Air Show, it actually went live on April 24, 2018—the day of the first E2 revenue flight (by a Wideroe E190-E2), says Bordais. Since then, it has been using the system regularly to prove concepts.
“We needed the right tool, the right platform, to analyze all this data,” says Bordais.
In the first year of the E2’s operation, it achieved reliability of 98.94%, partly due to the IKON platform.