Airlines are using sensors, digital simulations, and more to reduce time on the ground and get ahead of operational failures.
Advanced analytics and predictive maintenance software have emerged as important tools for airlines to cut costs and run on time.
For airlines operating in the Covid-19 era, this is more important than ever. With fewer flights and passenger health at stake, sitting on the tarmac now has an outsized impact on both the bottom line and on customer trust.
Maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) is a critical lever for airlines to avoid delays and drive down overhead. However, 30% of total delay time in the aviation industry is due to unexpected maintenance issues, often with no clear early indication of where failure occurred.
Now, airlines and MRO service providers are working to implement sensors, data warehouses, and digital models that predict equipment failures before they affect flight schedules.
Currently, activities like maintenance checkups, procurement, and tarmac services account for around 9% of airline operating costs, according to IATA. But data-forward solutions can pay dividends for airlines working to sustain passenger trust and keep costs down. Airlines that have invested in data-driven maintenance — like KLM — are already seeing returns, predicting issues up to 15 days ahead of time and cutting the necessary on-site part inventory in half.
Below, we used CB Insights data to look at the current state of analytics tools in MRO and where the space is headed next.
- Airlines can use plane sensor data to predict part failures, although isolating abnormalities close to real time remains challenging.
- The growing volume of historical data and increased digitization of MRO processes are creating opportunities for analytics software.
- Digital twins and manufacturing data collection will increasingly augment physical sensor models and open new opportunities for operational analysis.
Factors considered in plane maintenance typically include past part failures, usage loads, maintenance history, and more. Weather conditions and route fluctuations are tough to keep track of, and airlines need to accurately monitor a lot of information about the stresses on plane parts to meet safety standards.