The new Configuration Data Exchange (CDE) that GE Aviation announced in mid-November will mark a major breakthrough in how quickly and comprehensively key information on the performance and condition of aircraft and their systems gets shared between operators, OEMs and maintenance providers, according to the company. The aircraft engines and equipment manufacturer expects launch customers to start using CDE in 2017, arguing that this particular application of so-called Big Data will represent a major boost to the productivity of aircraft assets and maintenance optimization.
CDE, which GE is developing in partnership with Capgemini, will facilitate the sharing of data that mechanics now collect and record manually, as opposed to data that sensors gather automatically. Based on the Predix operating system, It will work with whatever software the various stakeholders use for processing the data. “In basic terms, this can be thought of as a data pipeline that will allow for two-way asset data flow between airlines, MROs, lessors, OEMs and parts brokers, and it will be agnostic to the various IT systems of record,” explained GE in a press release.
“The problem with configuration or asset data today is that it isn’t coming from sensors on the aircraft; it comes from mechanics and gets stuck in the paperwork generated by the shop system, which inefficiently shares it through paper, PDFs or one-off Excel spreadsheets, and this requires agreed [data exchange] solutions between any two parties,” CDE program director Heather Apple told AIN.
According to GE Aviation vice president and chief digital officer Jim Daily, airlines today spend around $4 billion just to manually manage such data. “There are major inefficiencies in the management of data generated within our industry,” he said.
IT group Capgemini will handle the customer implementation process for CDE. “Anyone can insert a debit card into an ATM anywhere in the world to get their balance and withdraw cash in a matter of seconds,” said Ray Stetter, vice president of Capgemini’s North America aviation practice. “But for a lessor or operator to find a specific maintenance record for a return could literally take months.”
The partners expect initial customers to include airlines and maintenance, repair and overhaul organizations. They will be able to use CDE to transfer data from individual aircraft systems, such as landing gear and actuators, providing full details of repair history and condition.
“Every aircraft has around 50,000 records from maintenance actions and you need a truly large scale to exchange this data,” Apple concluded.