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Knowledge Key to Unlocking Data Potential

The industry’s use of Big Data and predictive maintenance platforms was under discussion at MRO Asia-Pacific.

SINGAPORE—The aviation industry is correlating large swathes data from its many sources better than before to aid decision making, but a more customized, knowledge-driven approach is needed to best maximize its potential, a panel at Aviation Week’s MRO Asia-Pacific heard on Tuesday (Sept. 24).

Speaking in a discussion about the next wave of digital solutions in MRO, Tonya DelMaestro, chief marketing officer at Boeing, believes the industry is doing a better job at correlating data, but this itself creates “a challenging and fun problem to have.” “The way that equipment behaves could be impacted by weather or a maintenance action--there’s so many different aspects that could cause something to get to a certain point of failure and degradation,” she says.

Having the necessary knowledge is also key, rather than just having access to large swathes of data, DelMaestro says. “Knowing the equipment and how the industry behaves is a really essential part of knowing how we’ll be successful with all of this data.”

Arun Srinivasan, senior manager-engine health management at engine OEM Pratt & Whitney, agrees with Boeing’s DelMaestro that applying specialized knowledge to specific data sets is also key to harnessing data analytics effectively. “We’re getting to the stage where a large part of the industry runs on a one-size fits all solution for everything. We’re almost getting to a customized per asset kind of solution and I don’t think that comes easily--it comes with a lot of knowledge, sharing and insights going into it.”

The way data is collected is also changing. Henrique Heidemann Cardoso, manager, technical support at Brazilian airframe manufacturer Embraer, says most modern Big Data frameworks are embedded with a new paradigm called CICD (Continuous Integration Continuous Deployment). Cardoso says this paradigm gives the end user, commonly the data engineer, the ability to essentially build his or her own rules and to deploy those rules into production very quickly.

Because of this, closer collaboration between departments is necessary. “The IT department now has to be a partner in this new reality. To exploit what big data can offer we must change from centralized IT which oversees all departments to where the end-users can make their own rules and upload their own information.”

Cost is often cited as a barrier to implementing data-driven IT solutions, but for an airline-affiliated MRO like AFI KLM E&M, the pros of utilizing data systems outweight the cons. “From an airline perspective, it can be very costly to have a cancellation or a delay, while in Europe there are also compensation rules if a carrier is a few hours late,” says Sidney Stokkers, project lead, predictive maintenance at AFI KLM E&M.

“If  it is due to a technical problem that could have been foreseen, then the discussion about the cost of having Big Data or predictive maintenance in your organization becomes an easy one.”

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