SD Director of Maintenance, Andrew Cosgrove, is a vital contributor to SD product development. Andrew and his team make suggestions for new products, and enhancements that augment the intrinsic value of SD’s existing portfolio and help validate SD technology before we showcase it to our customers.
As we continue developing products designed specifically for the business aviation sector, Andrew gives his perspective on the value of digital resources in supporting improved maintenance management.
Q: How are digital tools improving maintenance management?
A significant challenge for maintenance management has been sourcing consistent, accurate aircraft data. The digital SD Pro® operations management platform resolves this problem by providing a single source of data that delivers real-time information, about aircraft performance to all members of the maintenance team simultaneously. This enables collaborative, responsive decision making through all phases of flight using the SD suite of modules.
The SD PreFlight module prevents conflict between maintenance scheduling and utilization as it immediately advises about upcoming calendar events. Having an aircraft far from home base when a maintenance event comes due can lead to a time- and cost-intensive outcome.
During flight we can monitor aircraft functionality and note any discrepancies relative to expectations. For example, we may see that the aircraft is burning more fuel than normal, the data is giving us a heads up that we need to investigate a potential issue.
The SD PostFlight module autonomously records flight time and engine cycle data, to the nearest minute, and feeds it straight to our maintenance tracking systems creating a valid, and accurate digital record of aircraft and fleet performance. This knowledge is critical in supporting improved maintenance supervision by giving clear insight into the aircraft’s status and can ultimately result in lengthened maintenance schedules. This reduces aircraft downtime and unnecessary maintenance activity, so reducing costs. It seems impossible to believe that critical flight-log information is still rounded up, and manually recorded when there is an option to have data seamlessly integrated into maintenance tracking systems.
Q: Why does real-time information matter?
During flight real-time data generates immediate deviation reports, delivers flight notification advisories and highlights potential maintenance issues. This heightens the crew’s decision making process and leads to remedial and/or evasive action en route. As the information is delivered to the team simultaneously we are all aware of what has happened. There’s no need for the crew to report back.
Real-time information also supports access to an authenticated digital history of an aircraft from its first heartbeat. The ability to interrogate the information enables like-with-like comparisons to ensure aircraft optimisation. It also supports cross-fleet comparison to establish which aircraft are operating at peak performance, and which need attention.
Q: Where are the key efficiencies for maintenance management delivered by the SD Pro system?
Communication is key to success, and real-time interaction with the aircraft is like having it speak for itself. The data tells us what the aircraft needs, supports better planning and enables predictive responses. Awareness and insight into technical issues, before the aircraft has even arrived back at base, significantly increases efficiencies in terms of preparedness. Simultaneous data-delivery provides the foundations for comprehensive decision making across the team.
Efficiencies are also delivered through synchronicity as each flight operations stakeholder receives the same information negating multiple inputs, so reducing errors. The ability to predict maintenance needs and have better insight into regular maintenance requirements improves prioritization and execution of maintenance tasks. Moving from diagnostic to predictive maintenance with the accuracy, immediacy and consistency of the data, eliminates rounding up of costing, which over time delivers significant savings and supports future forecasting.
Q: How is the information accessed?
Designed for use on multiple digital devices, each member of the flight operation can access information from a smart phone, tablet, laptop, or computer. For flight crew electronic flight bags are a staple and the data is available through these devices. Having clear data accessed by multiple users on multiple platforms ensures everybody is on the same page in terms of aircraft status. This minimizes miscommunication and ensures consistency of response.
The single intuitive portal is also customizable. Each user is delivered information directly relevant to their task so reducing information overload and enabling focus on designated tasks.
Q: What are the key benefits for a director of maintenance?
The certainty that the team has the same aggregated, validated information about each aircraft available to them in real-time supports improved communication across the globe, leading to increased maintenance efficiency, optimized aircraft flying time and the maximizing of maintenance budgets. It supports resource allocation – whether human, technical, financial or material – to ensure aircraft remain compliant, safe and ready to fly as needed.
Accurate aircraft auditing, either internally or externally, is informed by the data provided. When it comes to transactions this supports asset value retention as well as reducing capital expenditure. That’s what owners and operators are always aspiring to.