Earlier the aviation industry had to depend on regular inspections and part replacements to ensure that aircrafts were safe for flight. To fully understand the implications for managing the health of an aircraft, an analyst must combine the data collected with complementary information–such as the current aircraft configuration, manufacturing history, service records, and other information that may help characterize the current operating performance of the aircraft. To take action, the analyst can add information about available service personnel, equipment, bay capacity, inventory, and logistics capabilities. Combining all of this information and understanding its impact create a huge information and technology challenge.
As the aviation industry adopts a proactive approach for maintenance, repair, and overhaul, it requires an architecture that captures data at the point of creation and moves it where it can be stored and analyzed. With it, the system can trigger an immediate response, support planning activities, or serve as the basis for new data driven offerings. Many companies have already started on this journey and have many of the pieces in place. We see three areas where companies face challenges in this model.
The capabilities of the information technology architecture include the following:
On the aircraft, some of these sensors simply gather data about various components and operating environment and pass it on, but others can be programmed to store and analyze it. Ideally, this software can be updated over time to enhance the algorithms that process streaming data. Ground based business systems collect data about flight characteristics, service history, and ground operations.
Sensor data must be routed to a central point on the aircraft and downloaded either in-flight or once the aircraft is on the ground. Limitations in bandwidth and connectivity affect when and how data is transmitted to central locations. As more types of data are gathered, companies require a scalable infrastructure to integrate and secure the data received from all the different devices and components.
When combining flight data including records from engineering, manufacturing, logistics, and service applications, the volume of data is overwhelming.