Airlines show dramatic reductions in cancelations, squawks

Discussion

Expanding Skywise

SHM is the latest Skywise package that sends live data through the ACARS information system which transmits real-time data from the airplane to the ground.

Allegiant has SHM on only two of its 87 aircraft so far, but other Skywise programs are on its fleet of Airbus A320 family members.

Chris Toro, Allegiant’s VP of Maintenance and Engineering, said SHM—installed in January—already proved its worth.

SHM provides real time fault management, he said. In three months, more than 40 objects were identified that Allegiant dealt with before a flight cancellation might occur, he said.

This is especially important, given Allegiant’s business model of serving secondary and even smaller cities where it may offer the only airline service, Toro said. There is no other carrier to assist with a maintenance issue.

Pinpointing problems

Toro cited two examples in which SHM pinpointed a problem before it could grow into a flight cancellation.

In one case, pilots reported an airframe vibration after a bird strike. In reality, the engine, not the airframe, suffered the strike and the vibration came from the engine. SHM pointed mechanics to the engine.

Mechanics were able make a repair in a few hours. Had they focused on the airframe, troubleshooting could have taken days, Toro said.

In another case, the SHM pointed to a valve that was showing signs trending toward a problem. The valve was removed and replaced. Upon teardown, it was clear that several internal components were headed toward a failure that could have caused flight cancelations if mechanics had to react instead of being proactive.

Algorithms

Norm Baker, SVP of Digital Solutions for Airbus, said SHM brings “real time event management” to airlines that provides “operational improvements” for them.

Algorithms used to predict problems proved correct 95% of the time and this figure is going up. Coupled with the other Skywise programs, Skywise brings a “whole new level of fleet availability,” Baker said.

Baker pointed to Delta Air Lines, which uses other Skywise programs but has yet to sign on to the new SHM, as an example how Skywise dramatically reduced maintenance-related cancelations.

At Monday’s MRO Americas session, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said that in 2010, Delta had 6,000 maintenance-related flight cancelations. So far this year, there have been 60.

There were 250 straight days last year with no cancelations, maintenance or otherwise.

With a huge mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft, only a portion of this huge reduction was linked to Skywise. Bastian gave credit to Delta employees, without citing any digital assist, regardless of the source. (Airbus Services offers Skywise coverage on Boeing aircraft.)

But the figures illustrate how Delta’s focus on eliminating maintenance delays succeeded.

Delta uses the other Skywise programs for fleet monitoring, Airbus’ Baker said. It isn’t on the SHM program yet—Allegiant was the beta testing, and Delta wanted to see results from Beta use, Baker said.

Savings

Baker said one airline, which remains unidentified due to confidentiality, saved $850,000 from predictive monitoring that identified faults emerging with integrated drive generators. Six aircraft had five events. Skywise saw the data and the IDGs were removed on a planned basis with no operational impact to the airplanes.

The IDGs were sent out for repair on a planned basis, not a break-and-fix situation, and no overhaul was required.

To read the rest of the article Login or Subscribe today.