Textron Aviation is leveraging technology to improve the maintenance process for modern Citation jets, while also working to keep its pipeline of technicians filled as the aviation industry faces a growing shortage of technicians.
Optimizing the accessibility and accuracy of technical publications is vital for business aircraft maintenance, and for its newest jet, the Longitude, Textron Aviation is rolling out new 2D enhanced color graphics and interactive 3D content in the maintenance manuals. “These advancements empower customers with enhanced visualization of the detailed components on their aircraft and easy access to a broad spectrum of Textron Aviation customer service support services," said Chris Hearne, vice president of Textron Aviation product support. The new documents are part of Textron Aviation's 1View system, launched in August 2016. Since then, he said, "[subscribers] to 1View have yielded 73 million online page views. We continue to invest in improving our technical publications and are actively evaluating and leveraging emerging technology to deliver leading-edge capabilities for our customers worldwide."
With more than 1,100 technicians working in the global network of Textron Aviation service centers, a valuable opportunity for recruiting and retaining technicians is the prospect for becoming an expert on the whole aircraft. “Working end-to-end on an entire aircraft," said Hearne, "Textron Aviation technicians gain exposure to the entirety of aviation and the opportunity to move throughout a vast product line up across training, business, and defense aircraft. To keep pace with the needs of the business, Textron Aviation’s projected hiring need is approximately 150 technicians per year. Recruitment at more than 50 technical schools across the U.S. and a robust relationship with WSU Tech has enabled candidates to join the ranks, receive specialized technical training, and leverage shadowing and mentoring opportunities with experienced technicians. To invest in the future workforce, Textron Aviation, Wichita Public Schools, and WSU Tech have joined forces to develop Aviation Pathway, a new high school aviation curriculum that serves as the state’s first aviation technical education pathway for high school students.”
Big data and connectivity are also helping improve business aircraft maintenance efficiency, which requires a consistent flow of information. Like many business jet manufacturers, Textron Aviation transmits maintenance data directly from the airplane to Textron's LinxUs network and directly to the customer, via onboard equipment such as Garmin Iridium satcoms and datalinks. “Personalizing transmission requirements to meet their changing needs, customers receive information such as engine trend data, CAS message logs, and engine service messages via a LinxUs data subscription or Wi-Fi to their provider of choice," Hearne said. "Aircraft maintenance providers can now chart trends for aircraft use and better predict customer needs. This connectivity via binary-encrypted data empowers maintenance professionals with accurate, up-to-date aircraft information in real time and delivers peace of mind to customers."