Manufacturers across the aviation supply chain are keen to use data to improve their products and services.
Engine OEMs, in particular, see huge potential for data analysis, but at the moment it remains just that – potential – since only a sliver of the gigabytes generated by each engine cycle is meaningfully examined.
To improve matters, Rolls-Royce has just launched R2 Data Labs to develop applications that unlock design, manufacturing and operational efficiencies within the company.
One of the key aims of this is to refine service offerings for customers, whose aftermarket needs change as their equipment ages.
“If the focus is the lifecycle of the engine, what the customer wants at the end is completely different from the beginning,” says Tom Palmer, Rolls-Royce’s senior vice-president of services, in an interview with the Engine Yearbook.
Engine operators are principally concerned with reliability, fuel burn, residual value and maintenance cost.
To help optimize those factors, Rolls’ Availability Centre in Derby collects data not just from its engines and components, but also on airline flight patterns, weather, routes, and pilot behavior.
Discerning historical patterns within all that information is a huge task suited to the artificial intelligence technologies that R2 will be expected to bring to bear.
The goal is for engineers to carry out on on-wing repairs to engines remotely, based on data they have received on engine performance, or perform preventive maintenance.
Both such actions already occur, but Rolls clearly hopes that R2 will make them much more common.
To find out more about the digitization of the aero engine, pick up Engine Yearbook 2018, out now.