New generation aircraft, such as Boeing 787, 737 NG, Airbus A320neo, A380, Bombardier Global or Embraer Phenomen can run considerably longer without the need of any servicing making them increasingly attractive to airlines renewing their existing fleets. In the meantime, MROs having to deal with the increase in the use of field-loadable software (FLS) respond by expanding the list of requirements for aircraft technical maintenance specialists. These processes result in the rapidly changing technical maintenance training methods. FL Technics Training has observed that instead of the traditional tool box in hand, a modern aviation technician is more often spotted with a computer.
In the beginning of this decade an aircraft technical maintenance specialist was commonly portrayed as a man with a tool box in his hands patiently and with great care checking aircraft systems and parts. However, modern aircraft nowadays are like ‘flying computer networks’; therefore, in the age of highly sophisticated technologies, technical maintenance training programs have become no less focused on practical studies than on theoretical approach. Software installation requires not only wiring modification, but also a configuration table software update, a core processing software update, new display unit software with additional cockpit alerts, and new documentation installed in the cockpit related to the use of the new software. For instance, in the past, different processors acted separately to fulfil their individual functions to support the flight, cabin or maintenance crews; however, the new A380 all onboard computers are linked up as a network server structure system. Once the installation is complete and the software configurations are updated, each of these separate pieces must be managed to ensure compatibility with one another throughout the life of the aircraft. New generation technicians must not only be excellent IT specialists or possess good knowledge of computer systems but also be familiar with composite materials and electronic systems.
“Theoretic preparedness is still necessary for an aircraft maintenance specialist. However, with new advanced technologies aircraft maintenance can be carried out a lot faster thus facilitating the work of MRO companies and significantly reducing aircraft downtimes for airlines. For a technician it is much more important to thoroughly understand the entire interface as opposed to the operational ins and outs of separate components. A modern classroom is not only e-books but also a computer, simulators and 3D visualization. Whilst acting out various simulated aircraft breakdown situations, students are given the opportunity to look for the right maintenance solutions not only in the course of practical training but also with the help of a computer. It is a truly important method for practical preparedness,” explained the Deputy Head of FL Technics Training Dainius Sakalauskas.
According to Mr.Sakalauskas, the use of computer systems in aircraft diagnostics helps to reduce the possibility of the ‘human factor’. Therefore, despite the ever changing methods applied in technical maintenance training, with the growing reliance on computer systems the most important factor in aviation remains to be safety. This concern for safety comes from not only aircraft manufacturers and MROs, but also from technical personnel now able to use exceptionally advanced and sophisticated technologies helping to locate breakdowns faster than ever.