Printed headline: Old, New and in Between
MRO can almost be like remodeling a house. First you determine the workscope, budget and timing. After getting the work processes and labor ready to go, the demo starts, and you order the materials, making sure they are delivered at the right time. You keep the overall structure but move some walls (hoping there isn’t any unexpected electrical or plumbing in them), refresh the tired floors, update the lighting and add sleek energy-efficient appliances and monitor it all via a connected home system such as Nest.
With your new modern interior, some of your furniture looks old, so you reupholster it and add some new elements to compliment the new color scheme—mixing the old and new to create a harmonious interior.
While house remodeling is a lot easier than aircraft modifications, they both mix the old, new and something in between—whether it’s repainting a mirror frame to give it a second life or incorporating used serviceable material or an engine with green time. That mix often works for budgets, but sometimes it’s not easy—and sometimes that favorite chair from college just has to go.
As our industry balances mature and next-gen aircraft—and at the same time tests new technologies for MRO efficiencies—operations regularly see a mix of the old, new and in between.
Like many carriers, Delta Air Lines is in a period of transition. As CEO Ed Bastian said about new technologies and capabilities at Delta TechOps, “we’re just getting going.” Bastian, pictured above with me at Delta TechOps’ new 150,000-lb.-thrust test cell in Atlanta, is delivering the keynote at MRO Americas on April 9. Data analytics’ use is in the “in between,” or transition phase, too.
In researching this issue’s big data outcomes cover story, two people told me about similar experiences: Predictive maintenance has become extremely accurate, but telling mechanics to pull parts that they think are still perfectly good takes convincing. The solution: Test the removed part and promptly tell the mechanics the test bench results. Doing that helps mechanics gain confidence in the big data outcomes and gives them pride in knowing they helped prevent a problem further down the line.
In rolling out new technologies—whether artificial intelligence, augmented reality or predictive maintenance—a key element to success seems to be not just telling your colleagues how to use it but showing how it fits in the overall ecosystem. It’s not just a new tool, so demonstrate how it advances your business goals. Make it part of your overall processes and outcomes.
I think the key word is “convergence.” Our industry is a mix of old and new and in between—so as you prepare for the future, consider what needs to converge to deliver the results you seek in a harmonious way.