In recent years the aviation industry has made significant progress in the use of e-enabled tools to enhance maintenance processes, avoid unscheduled maintenance episodes and reduce aircraft maintenance cost. Last year United and Continental Airlines in the US replaced their heavy paper flight manuals with iPads loaded with a special aviation navigation application. United Airlines flight crew, by using iPads instead of charts, logbooks and handbooks, will save 16 million sheets of paper and about 326 thousand gallons of fuel per year. Quite a significant number, but are really tablets one of the technology devices that could bring a new level of efficiency to most of the MRO segments?
Boeing, for example, states, that 787 Dreamliner, the world’s first e-enabled commercial airplane, combines the power of integrated information and communication systems to drive operational efficiency, enhance revenue, and streamline airplane maintenance. The e-enabling equipment on the 787 is highly integrated with the on-board maintenance, data-load, and crew information systems, offering opportunities for airlines and MROs to reduce maintenance costs. But how?
Under the traditional line maintenance process, pilots record defects on handwritten pilot reports into a logbook. The logbook is reviewed by the arriving line maintenance technician. An engineer assesses inbound defect log entries, and looks back through previous log pages to search for any related defect history. The lists of deferred defects are then reviewed and prioritised listing them according to which could affect the subsequent flight and require immediate maintenance. What is more, a mechanic is also required to manually enter all relevant details of a defect into an airline’s maintenance and engineering IT system. Later on the engineer will browse through appropriate documents and instructions, manuals, catalogues or troubleshooting manuals in order to establish the best practice of how to eliminate the defect. After that, a mechanic will continue with the repairing the defects, signing the reports, recording and certifying the details into the logbook.
‘The use of new technological devices in the MRO industry eliminates much of the paper work and significantly reduces the amount of time spent whilst searching for the right manual, filling paper documents, etc. E-enabled tools allow aircraft maintenance specialists to stay focused and concentrate on the main tasks,’ says Dainius Sakalauskas, Deputy Head at FL Technics Training.
New technological devices should also be used in aircraft technical training. Usage of devices such as tablets makes learning more interactive and efficient with a simple aim to replace traditional training manuals and enhance training experience. FL Technics is already preparing to introduce new technology-based training methods into its training programs. D.Sakalauskas believes that usage of new technologies, such as tablets, will enable students to download training resources online (through Apple, Android or other system based devices) and to access all the material any time, whether they are connected to the internet or not.