February 22, 2019
Long before travelers searched for fares on the internet, the airline industry created network systems to book flights internally. Nowadays, advances in wireless technology and computing power are enabling the industry to push the benefits of digital networks even deeper into their operations, making fleets more responsive and efficient than ever. The stakes aren’t (airline) peanuts: Flight disruptions from weather and mechanical issues, for instance, are estimated to cost carriers and their passengers almost $27 billion annually. Those costs could be slashed if airlines could manage disruptions better while they’re happening — and at this week’s Waypoint aviation conference in Dallas, GE Aviation announced deals to help two airlines do just that.
A bird’s-eye view: Taking advantage of the reams of data generated by planes every day, GE’s Network Operations software suite will help AirAsia, a low-cost carrier, gain a single view of disruption effects across its flight network, enabling a better understanding of the financial impacts and looking ahead to how passengers may miss connections. “This helps airlines recover from disruptions faster and more efficiently than ever and enables them to recoup substantial costs in the process,” said John Mansfield, chief digital officer for GE Aviation. Digital maintenance records, meanwhile — like digital medical records in the healthcare industry — are an important tool to optimize operations over time and reduce costs, and Panama-based Copa Airlines will use GE Aviation’s cloud-based AirVault digital records management system to track maintenance, repair and overhaul.
Haul yourself over here for more insights on how data can help airlines keep operations shipshape.
At the Dubai-based carrier Emirates, engineers used to be in the habit of taking planes out of service every 400 to 600 flight hours for a routine checkup — a process that helped maintain a fleet of healthy jets, but at times involved grounding planes that were perfectly fine to fly. On the flip side, planes sometimes had to be grounded when a surprise maintenance issue popped up. But with the help of GE’s Analytics Based Maintenance software, or ABM, Emirates engineers have been able to become smarter fixer-uppers: ABM uses data gathered from many sensors fitted onto each plane to monitor engine health and predict potential problems before they become real.
Who could’ve seen it coming: So far, GE has installed thousands of sensors on 160 of Emirates’ Boeing 777s — whose GE90-115B engines are, incidentally, the most powerful jet engines in the world. “ABM gives us an engine-specific view of the fleet that allows for a more targeted approach,” said Ahmed Safa, Emirates’ divisional senior vice president of engineering. The sensors gather data on everything from temperatures and vibrations to flight time, speed and weather conditions. That data is fed into machine learning algorithms developed by engineers at GE’s Middle East Advanced Aviation Technology Center in Dubai, where digital models can predict the optimal time for preventative maintenance for each engine. The results? Engines that run at peak performance for longer periods, with shorter routine downtimes and significantly fewer breakdowns.
Want to learn more about how data keeps planes in the air? We break it down here.
Delayed flights might be good for airport bars and newsstands, but they’re terrible for airlines and passengers. But a new suite of digital solutions from GE Aviation could help airlines reduce delays and cancellations significantly, while improving on-time performance. It’s the brainchild of a team led by a man who’s been looking to the skies since childhood.
Plane genius: Growing up in San Francisco in the 1970s, Mike Arguello loved hanging out at the airport, waiting for relatives visiting from Central America. Even then, he noticed flights were often delayed. Completing his doctoral thesis at the University of Texas at Austin, Arguello worked on technology that could automate and recover crew schedules when flight disruptions scrambled the existing lineup. At GE Aviation, Arguello and his team have been able to develop algorithms that crunch the numbers and can help predict flight disruption patterns. “Anyone can figure out the impact of a closure of an airport to existing operations,” says Arguello. “The hard part is piecing things back together so you’re operating the rest of the schedule at maximum velocity.”
Piece together the rest of Arguello’s journey here.
— QUOTE OF THE DAY —
“How lucky are you as a 20-year-old to learn: ‘Wow, this is what I am going to do for the rest of my life.’ ”
— Mike Arguello, senior director for digital product management at GE Aviation
Quote: GE Reports. Image: Charles Pertwee/Bloomberg.
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