Singapore Air Show

DS&S analyzes on-board info to give your aircraft an MRI

 - December 4, 2006, 2:31 PM

As airlines move toward the “paperless cockpit,” Data Systems & Solutions (DS&S) is seeking to save operators money and time through real-time analysis of on-board information using its engine and aircraft health-monitoring (EHM and AHM) services. By collecting data via mobile devices and integrated systems, DS&S trend analysts can anticipate and advise on necessary short-, medium-, or long-term action,
reducing the impact of unexpected maintenance events.

For example, analysis can generate alert messages or contribute to reduced downtime, operational costs and inventory levels by optimizing maintenance, according to the UK company’s civil aviation marketing director Nick Godwin.

Linking aircraft data systems to airline managers improves their operational and engineering planning, so that peaks and troughs can be anticipated or reduced, turnaround times shortened and aircraft availability increased.

Predictive analysis enables decision-makers to manage “tomorrow’s problems rather than fix yesterday’s,” claims DS&S, which says that airlines and manufacturers are looking for Web-enabled application services that need low investment and “no cash flow surprises.” Since DS&S has access to other carriers’ records (and even those of other manufacturers), customers can benefit from fleet-wide experience, which will enhance aircraft utilization and improve maintenance efficiency. This information is sanitized to avoid disclosing operators’ proprietary information and can be especially valuable to start-up operations, where speed of growth can overtake regulatory compliance, since data analysis can highlight necessary action.

Also, airlines such as low-cost carriers or charter operators seeking critical cost management can use the DS&S CoreWing electronic technical log (ETL) for fuel planning through control of weight and balance. The company’s CoreControl equipment range also includes CoreFleet (AHM and reliability analysis), CoreAlert (EHM), CoreFuture (fleet optimization) and CoreRecord (configuration management) products.

Central to DS&S philosophy is its Web portal linking Core products with customer databases as well as portable and integrated electronic devices. Through CoreAlert, it monitors 6,100 engines on more than 3,000 aircraft flying with over 200 operators. About half of these engines are monitored continuously, enabling DS&S to provide trend-analysis results typically within a claimed 10 minutes. Some 10,000 engine reports are processed each day.

Continuous EHM analysis can identify issues to be watched for possible future problems or can detect “first of type” events that could be reported to all customers. Also, as on-wing times increase, EHM could be instrumental in establishing new threshold points at which engine removal would be wise, says DS&S.

CoreAlert has been developed for all Rolls-Royce and International Aircraft Engines powerplants, and DS&S is now looking to apply the behavior trend model to other manufacturers’ products, including more than 600 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-200 engines on McDonnell Douglas MD-80s in North America.

The heart of the DS&S service is its EHM health center, which receives engine data from various sources (flight logs, quick-access or digital flight-data recorders, or fuel handlers) through ground stations or direct from flying aircraft. After analysis, data is stored or distributed electronically to airlines, manufacturers, maintenance shops, or service personnel.

ATR adopted CoreFleet for its Aware reliability-reporting tool launched last December for operators of the European twin turboprop family. Next month, European charter airline MyTravel will be the first operator to introduce the CoreWing ETL, which captures flight- and maintenance-related information and data from technical logs and voyage reports for real-time transmission to operations personnel, avoiding the need for paper records. CoreWing is said to reduce technical-log management costs by 40 percent, while offering improved data accuracy.

DS&S is a subsidiary of aero engine maker Rolls-Royce.