Honeywell Spotlight database offers troubleshooting advice

 - October 3, 2007, 11:10 AM

Since Honeywell launched its Web-based e-Engine program three years ago, more than 3,000 users have signed up. They represent some 1,350 owner-operators of business and regional aircraft and 254 service providers. The program integrates information from several aircraft data systems and provides operators with engine condition trend monitoring, technical publications and engine/GSE software downloads. It is also compatible with Aircraft Technical Publishers’ (ATP) Maintenance Director software and communications tools for operators and service centers.

One component of e-Engine that continues to grow significantly in both usage and stored information is the Spotlight database. Honeywell field service engineers were the first to use Spotlight and found that it significantly reduced their troubleshooting time and increased maintenance productivity.

Spotlight merges field service reports and maintenance manuals with troubleshooting experience from the field. As more users enter information, the database grows and becomes more effective. Spotlight leads users to the most relevant answers based on the characteristics of a given maintenance problem they put into the program. The software identifies resolutions to previously experienced similar maintenance issues.

Spotlight includes the TFE731, CFE738 and AS907 engines and 36-100 series APUs installed on Challenger 600s, 601s and 604s, Gulfstream IIs, IIIs and IVs, BAe 146s, Falcon 50s and Hawkers.

Troubleshooting Database
Rob Richardson, director of Honeywell’s TFE aftermarket programs, told AIN that the company developed Spotlight to improve problem resolution and repair time. “The idea was to promote the user’s self sufficiency by essentially taking the memory of our people and putting it online with fuzzy logic. One of the great things about this system is we’re capturing the tribal knowledge that would otherwise walk out the door when people retire. Spotlight isn’t about tightening a nut to stop an oil leak; it’s about recording complex issues that a limited number of people know and making them common knowledge.”

Ginny Bruni, aftermarket program manager, explained how Spotlight works. “Someone has a problem they can’t identify so they open a case and type in what they observe on the engine, and the software looks for a resolution. The fuzzy logic is what makes it effective because it looks at the words entered, then tries to match them in the database, even though they might not be exact. The more you use fuzzy logic, the better it gets. It can teach itself.”

Bruni said when a user types in symptoms, the software searches the database and orders the matches by rank. If, for example, six of the user-entered variables match six words in the database, the solution would have a high rank. If six user-entered variables match two database words, the solution would rank lower.

“In the early days we were getting about 60 percent solutions, according to our users, but this is a real-time, Web-based system so it’s learning every day,” Bruni explained. “In addition, we often add service bulletins, modifications and other information so the system learns very quickly from both the company and the users. The engine product lines have had more than 4,000 identified solutions in just the two years we’ve been in existence. So far this year there has been a 72-percent increase in the user base and a 45-percent increase in overall usage. To date, software- identified solutions have been provided for more than 90 percent of the faults found.”

According to Bruni, if the software does not find a solution set it asks a series of questions. The user enters answers into the system, where the engineering group and customer service personnel view them and develop a solution that they enter into the database.

Spotlight is available free of charge to all Honeywell authorized service centers, Maintenance Service Plan operators, operators of new engines under warranty and anyone who’s operating one of Honeywell’s rental engines. In addition, the service is available by subscription to anyone.

Richardson stressed the Spotlight program isn’t just engine related. “We cover it from the perspective of an ‘engine installed,’ not just a stand-alone engine,” he said. “There’s a significant difference because sometimes the problem is the result of another system affecting the engine. Spotlight can troubleshoot a problem that may not even be engine-related. The system has become so effective that Bombardier is now using it to cover both engine and airframe troubleshooting.”

Bruni pointed out that Spotlight is also an effective training aid. “We have Honeywell field service employees who use it to get up to speed on current issues with an engine,” she said. “It is particularly useful for a new mechanic who can use the system to learn about past problems. An interesting byproduct of the software is that it also reduces the transition time between maintenance shifts. The software stores the troubleshooting information that technicians can review from shift to shift instead of holding a conventional half-hour briefing period between shifts.”

“What Spotlight does is reduce cost of ownership, increase operational readiness and reduce troubleshooting time, no-fault-found issues, use of spares and overall time to repair. It promotes self-sufficiency and provides an organization with insurance against the loss of walking knowledge,” Bruni explained.