During GE Aviation’s Waypoint 2019 conference in Dallas in February, the company’s Digital Solutions team demonstrated a new Asset Transfer System (ATS) module. It's part of GE’s AirVault aircraft maintenance records management system for airlines and other fleet operators. AirVault centralizes software configurations, administration, support and computer processing to bi-directionally connect the internal and external operation records and data of globally distributed fleets. Debuted in December 2018, AirVault ATS streamlines the transfer of maintenance records and other asset information between lessors/lessees or buyers/sellers.
“Lessors and airlines need holistic leased asset management solutions,” said GE Aviation Digital Solutions Product Management representative Monica Stone during the Waypoint presentation. “The real vision of ATS is to facilitate the rapid transition of documents between lessee and lessor, and do the audit as quickly as possible in a compliant and organized way. Anything that can shorten the time frame during the transition adds value to both sides.”
Oklahoma-based Critical Technologies introduced AirVault in 2007 as an online digital document management solution for aircraft maintenance records. The initial rollout included indexed maintenance and engine records for advanced document searches. In 2010, AirVault capability expanded with the MRO Connect module, which facilitates digital delivery of shop records to airlines. GE Aviation acquired Critical Technologies in March 2017, keeping the AirVault brand and looking at ways to expand system capabilities. The 2018 launch of AirVault ATS provides project management, lessor checklists and offline upload capabilities tailored to asset lease or sale transactions.
The ATS project management capability includes enabling third parties or non-Air Vault users to upload documents. “Not only can you collect documentation, but you can also have workflow management within the application,” said Nate Hicks, senior product leader at GE Aviation. “You can enable a third party to interact with you digitally and remotely. So if you're the lessor and you want to work with an airline that doesn't use AirVault, you can still enable them to load their documents into a working area where you can review, approve, and audit. And if you find errors or documentation challenges, you can route an issue back to the user who has been working with you.”
AirVault ATS also has offline upload capability through a desktop application for consultants or maintenance personnel who work remotely or who don’t have a reliable internet connection. When these users return to an area of good connectivity, the ATS application syncs the changes made in the field.
Stone said that AirVault ATS provides several advantages to both airlines and lessors. For airlines, ATS organizes records in the Lessor Checklist based on the IATA Spec 2500 standard and allows customization of those checklists for various project types such as unique requirements for collecting documentation or specific maintenance events. For lessors, advantages include the aforementioned Lessor Checklist, remote document review and integration with the Asset Management System. For all users, ATS provides a user-friendly collaboration application that can increase productivity and reinvestment for both transitions and audits.
“AirVault is really a comprehensive records management system,” said Stone. “We started out with going paperless; digitizing documents. Then we started thinking about connections with other systems, such as information coming off of MRO Connect and really expanding that network of data. We’ve managed all of the records coming through, and we’re now ready to transfer that asset back over to the lessor, bringing that information together and collaborating. For the airline, it’s going to be a standardized way to do these transfers. For the lessor, you’ll have the records ready and be able to integrate with the Asset Management System, and then you’ll have this single repository for the ATS data.”
Stone said that in the near future, AirVault ATS capabilities will expand to include a complete leased aircraft solution including asset management integration, compliance management, configuration management, a physical inspection module, and lease analytics.
“We also are looking into transfer insights, which would be a dashboard that will indicate how well we are doing with a transfer, highlight pain points when it comes into a debt, a transfer, and how you’re performing against other transfers you've had,” said Stone. “In terms of asset management, by 2020 we’re starting to look at 'what’s the value of that asset' and really dig into the financials that are looked at when doing transfers.”
Incremental updates throughout 2019 and 2020 will also increase ATS’s compliance tracking capabilities.
“We’ve heard from customers about how to track SB [Service Bulletin] and AD [Airworthiness Directive] compliances, so we’re looking at potentially going into the regulatory agencies and pulling that information out,” said Stone. “We’ll start running those checks for you within ATS and generating the SB and AD list for your components by aircraft or by asset.”