Airframe, engine and component OEMs have the design and test data to offer some sort of aircraft health monitoring and predictive maintenance tools from the start. Major airline-MROs will accumulate the operational and repair data necessary to refine predictive tools, but this accumulation takes time. So they tend to develop their tools in stages, concentrating on the maintenance choices that count the most for an airline’s operations and finances.
For example, Prognos is AFI KLM E&M’s tool for helping airlines do predictive maintenance. The Prognos suite has two basic components, Prognos for aircraft and Prognos for engines, explains chief digital officer Rodolphe Parisot. About 30 customers are already using the current version of Prognos for engines, and both aircraft and engine tools will be steadily improved and expanded.
Prognos for aircraft was developed by AFI KLM E&M’s MRO Lab innovation program. Engineers and data scientists worked on the project. The tool uses data transmitted by aircraft either inflight or during turnarounds via Wi-Fi or 4G. “Data are then stored and analyzed using algorithms that trigger alerts for the components according to a predefined set of parameters,” Parisot explains.
Prognos for aircraft has been developed component by component, according to which components are most critical in Air France-KLM’s experience as an airline in trying to prevent cancellations and delays. “Instead of casting a wide net for data coming from all systems of the aircraft, Prognos focuses, or deep-dives, on very specific systems or sub-systems based on an intimate understanding of systems critical to operations,” Parisot says.
AFI KLM E&M concentrated first on the top-five causes of delays and cancellations. At present Prognos for aircraft covers all of the most critical A380 systems and internal drive generators Boeing 747s. The tool is now being developed to cover a much larger number of components, not only for latest-generation aircraft such as the 787 and the A350, but also for legacy fleets like A320 family, A330 and 777.
AFI KLM E&M is working with a limited number of customers to optimize Prognos for aircraft and ensure cyber security concerns are met. After this optimization, the tool will be marketed to a wider set of clients.
The other part of the Prognos suite, Prognos for engines, uses data transmitted by engines during different flight phases in real time. It predicts engine defects to guide maintenance operations. Distinctively, Prognos for engines using engine models customized for each engine serial number, rather than traditional worldwide fleet models. Although designed for automatic transmission of data, Prognos for engines will allow manual data entry for customers without ACARS.
Prognos for engines can now monitor CFM56s, GE90s, CF6s, PW4000s, GENXs and GP7200s. Next will come Trent XWBs and Trent 1000s. Prognos for engines is already fully operational and part of AFI KLM E&M services offered to the market. It now monitors about 1,200 engines for Air France-KLM and around 30 other airlines.
Parisot stresses that both parts of Prognos are scalable and further developments may reflect the operational experience of monitored fleets.