The Uptime Blog
Tags: MRO, aviation, aircraft maintenance, Job Cards, parts logistics, Aircraft Maintenance Manuals (AMM), Korean Air, Oracle cMRO, ERP, Enigma, John Snow
An article by David Baum in Oracle’s PROFIT magazine says, “Korean Air’s new aircraft and engine maintenance system allows production personnel to instantly create engine maintenance plans against flight schedules and to analyze maintenance costs within three hours.” That’s an impressive statistic and Enigma is proud to have played a significant role, as a partner to Oracle, in helping KAL to achieve it.
KAL’s new maintenance system went live in 2011, as reported by Gartner, and is a combination of Oracle cMRO and Enigma InService® MRO. Prior to this, KAL realized that their legacy maintenance system could not keep up with the demand for faster service, more scheduling flexibility and increasingly complex troubleshooting and repair procedures. KAL described the role Enigma played in helping them optimize maintenance execution, at the Aircraft Commerce show in APAC last year. However, the inventory part of the KAL story has not yet been told.
According to the PROFIT article, every month KAL moves about 12,000 parts through inventory as part of their normal maintenance procedures. Unfortunately, “the legacy maintenance system did not provide detailed information about required materials at the time purchase requests were made. Lack of integration with the core ERP systems limited visibility and led to inaccurate purchase requests.” But solving this problem is more complicated than integrating to ERP. The real problem stems from the way in which new/revised part requirements are communicated to the airlines. Specific parts requirements are frequently buried within several different types of documentation, and part numbers are often tied to certain tail-numbers of aircraft (tail number effectivity). As a result, every ninety days when documents are revised there is a chance that the allowable parts for any given aircraft may also change.
The traditional way of updating the allowable parts list, kept in the ERP and inventory system, is to have someone review all the new documentation and manually make the changes. This is tedious work, and over time errors can creep into the ERP system. One of the advantages to using Enigma is that it quickly identifies all the changes in each revision of the documentation. Any changes to maintenance procedures can be flagged and used to automatically update maintenance job cards. Just as important, any changes to parts requirements can be flagged and used to automatically update the ERP and inventory system.
When a maintenance organization like KAL uses 12,000 parts a month, ensuring that procurement and logistics is ordering the right parts and positioning them in the right places is critical to success. The article quotes GyooYeon Cho, managing vice president of maintenance planning at Korean Air as saying, “Thanks to the increased accuracy of the maintenance planning operation, Korean Air has reduced its cost for materials and labor…We achieved significant improvements in preventive maintenance and can better plan the capacity of human resources and material resources in advance. We always have the proper inventory of parts, components, and materials on hand. This will reduce the cost of the maintenance operation.”
While Enigma isn’t specifically mentioned in the PROFIT article (it is an Oracle publication after all) our role is well-known by Oracle and KAL executives, and we are proud to have been a part of this impressive success at Korean Airlines.
Boeing and Airbus are fierce competitors; it’s a well-documented fact. What’s not well-documented is their competition with the rest of the aviation industry. Boeing and Airbus compete on the following fronts: with each other, for big deals; with smaller OEMs, for smaller deals; with PMA manufacturers, for spare parts; with 3rd party MRO shops, for maintenance/repair business; with their own airline customers, for maintenance/repair business; with independent software vendors (ISVs), for the technology that drives MRO and parts decisions. Boeing and Airbus apparently compete with (almost) everybody in the aviation ecosystem.
Why do I bring this up? Because once you look past the quality of their airplanes, their products are just not that good. Certainly most airlines know more about what it takes to keep these airframes flying than the OEM does. Most airlines know more about what they need out of their IT systems than the OEM does as well. But the OEM marketing messages make it sound like they can solve any airline problem and their sales force makes offers that the airlines “can’t refuse.” Just remember, caveat emptor (buyer beware).
What’s becoming more clear is that Boeing and Airbus have done a masterful job of hiding their true objectives, which seem to be aimed at limiting access to aircraft maintenance manuals (AMM), illustrated parts catalogs (IPC) and other critical information…unless the airlines agree to use the OEM’s proprietary MRO and tech pubs solutions. Contrary to their public affirmations about being good corporate citizens, they appear to have no interest in cooperating on initiatives with vendors, customers or standards bodies (like ATA). I’ve now had several conversations with ISVs that tried to partner with the OEMs to improve operations at joint airline customers however, the OEMs told the ISVs…no. (I’m being polite about the “tone” of the OEMs’ rejection.)
This mimics what was said at Aviation Week’s MRO Americas 2011 Conference. During this event there were a number of senior airline executives publically expressing their displeasure over the tactics employed by Boeing and Airbus. (Here is a link to our blog about that conference.) Many IT vendors, including some of the largest in the world, also voiced complaints about the challenges of working with the OEMs. The OEM policies make it difficult for airlines to deploy fully-integrated solutions. Without the ability to integrate each IT component (i.e., MRO, ERP, SCM, ECM, tech pubs, configuration management, etc.) and make them readily accessible (to engineering, planning, logistics, hangar/line mechanics, etc.) the airlines cannot drive down costs and increase uptime. (Here’s a blog about Gartner’s report on KAL’s integrated system and a report on KAL’s presentation at an Aircraft Commerce event.)
Last spring I met with a senior ATA executive to discuss the OEM role in maintenance IT systems. Once we examined the OEM strategy from several perspectives—maintenance schedules, service revenue, parts selection/sales, inventory management—this ATA executive began to understand why many ISVs view Boeing and Airbus as competitors.
The competitive situation with the OEMs was highlighted in a recent article from MRO Global magazine (p. 12), “…it is hard to see the aftermarket remaining independent of the OEMs and this will lead to lack of data and choice for the operators on a scale not imaginable just ten years ago. Once the OEMs control the data then there is no going back.” The article continues (p. 14), “[Ronald Schaeuffele, CEO of Swiss Aviation Software] adds: ‘When Airbus delivers a new aircraft, the documents delivered with the aircraft – including the component list of the aircraft – are completely different from those Boeing delivers. The two manufacturers don’t seem to communicate on this issue; they don’t seem to be preoccupied with the data format of information they provide.’”
Contrary to this quote (above) Enigma’s experience indicates that the OEMs are very preoccupied with data formats, management and control. In fact, the negative impacts of the OEM strategy were highlighted at a SAP user group meeting for airlines (SUGAIR) back in 2010 (as reported in this blog). Clearly the OEMs know that aircraft MRO data is the key to increasing their aftermarket revenues. If OEMs control the data and IT systems used by the airline, they can lock-in parts and service business and set whatever price they desire. And while regulations require this same MRO data be provided to airlines so they can use it independently, the OEMs seem to be looking for ways to avoid this responsibility.
Fortunately, Enigma can cope with almost any data format, regardless of how bad the OEMs try to make it. While we would prefer clean standardized data, it appears that’s not part of the plan at Boeing and Airbus. As a result, airlines that recognize the value of MRO information—for providing competitive advantage around cost, service and asset utilization—are actively seeking out tools like Enigma as a key enabler of their strategic plans.
I just returned from SUGAIR 58 in Palo Alto, CA. The SAP Users Group for Airlines (SUGAIR) is a bi-annual conference for experts, executives and managers of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations in the aviation, aerospace and defense industries. Enigma was invited to provide a status update on the integration between Enigma, SAP MRO and HCL AXON’s iMRO. It was also an opportunity to share the joint strategy with some of the members who had not travelled to Kuala Lumpur in December. SUGAIR 58 was well-attended by an impressive list of airlines and defense organizations and the feedback on our strategy was very positive.
There were many meaningful presentations focusing on mobility (online/offline data access), product roadmaps/rollout plans, spare parts planning and supply chains, performance based logistics, flight ops support, and new analytics tools. All of these presentations were well received, but clearly the tablet demos received the highest “wow” factor. Enigma was pleased to be included in the tablet demo by HCL AXON. (It’s especially cool when people find Enigma’s software so easy to use that they can demo it without our involvement.)
During one of the evening events, a topic from the last SUGAIR meeting was once again raised—namely, the strategy of Boeing and Airbus to limit service and parts information as a way to lock-in spare parts sales and control who can provide maintenance and repair services. It seems the OEMs may have backed off on some of their demands as, according to some airlines, they’ve started to discover how complex the MRO IT environment really is. Perhaps Boeing and Airbus have figured out that the airlines really do know what they’re doing and that the work of 30-40 years can’t be easily replaced? That remains unclear but certainly the panel at MRO Americas in Miami hadn’t yet heard about this change in OEM strategy/behavior. (They were still pretty ticked off.)
SUGAIR members wanted to discuss Enigma’s ability to extract information from the IPC, AMM and maintenance planning documents (MPD) and to update the master parts list (MPL), maintenance requirements (MR) and job cards (task cards) in SAP. Furthermore, the ability to then quickly identify inventory problems like “dead” parts was a source of many animated discussions. Attendees recognized the huge opportunity this represents for cost reductions in inventory and procurement.
For Enigma, SUGAIR 58 was a great opportunity to participate in solving today’s (and tomorrow’s) MRO challenges. From the feedback we received, the aviation, aerospace and defense organizations that attended gained valuable insight for how to leverage SAP and partner technology to maximize their business success.
Our previous blog post talked about the challenges facing maintenance, repair and overhaul shops (MROs) in light of the decline in MRO work. Today’s blog elaborates on some of those challenges, and discusses some IT solutions that can help MROs reduce costs, which will help them weather the downturn in business.
Aircraft maintenance is anything but simple. The machines are expensive and complex, and they operate in an environment that is global, hazardous, and highly regulated. As a result, the back office systems and organizations that support aircraft must achieve multiple conflicting demands. It should come as no surprise therefore, that different organizations manage and use maintenance content in different ways.
Line maintenance relies on a technical library, which is used to resolve unscheduled and non-routine maintenance events that may result in flight delays. (There are as many as 12 different manuals used by line maintenance on a frequent basis.) In contrast, Base maintenance relies on a maintenance scheduling system and pre-defined job cards to assign and describe maintenance activities. (Line maintenance ultimately requires a job card as well but the process doesn’t start there.) Having different systems for each environment is not unreasonable because each organization has different responsibilities, cost drivers and time pressures. Thus there are separate departments, writing separate sets of documents, for separate audiences.
However, if the maintenance procedures in those systems are different there will be problems. If maintenance plans, job cards and technical manuals are not synchronized, then aircraft may not be properly maintained, which can result in fines.
Things get even more complicated with 3rd party MRO shops because technical content must now be sent and managed offsite. Nevertheless, the airline still owns the responsibility for ensuring proper maintenance.
When the countless OEM updates and airline-originated changes are taken into consideration the result is an enormous increase in workload for engineering, planning and tech pubs. Reconciling OEM updates with existing maintenance documentation has historically been a labor intensive and time-consuming process. And the longer it takes to process revisions, the less likely it is that technicians are working from the most up-to-date maintenance instructions, parts information, drawings and schematics.
These are some of the problems when maintenance systems have inconsistent information… what’s the solution? The solution is to synchronize tech pubs with maintenance planning and execution. Automated revision management and job card generation are just a couple of today’s IT offerings that can ensure each department is working with the same content, while speeding up the processes of managing the information and conducting maintenance.
When properly implemented, integrated and synchronized maintenance systems deliver lower turnaround times (TAT), and increased efficiency and consistency. If an MRO shop can brag about that, they can compete effectively against anyone, even when MRO industry growth is slow or flat. For more on this topic, playback the recorded webinar that Enigma conducted with SAP and HCL Axon.
Tags: MRO, Customer Originated Changes, aircraft maintenance, Job Cards, technical documentation, OEM content, SAP, AMM, Aircraft Maintenance Manuals (AMM), Illustrated Parts Catalogs (IPC), Maintenance Planning Documents (MPD), Master Parts Lists (MPL), SAP/HCL-Axon
I just returned from the 2nd Annual SAP Airline Solution Summit in Dallas, which brought together professionals from around the world from airlines, OEMs, MRO shops, software vendors, IT consultants and even rail professionals. It was an impressive group with a lot of give-and-take between the presenters, the exhibitors and the audience.
During the afternoon breakout sessions, Enigma presented on the topic “Maintenance Scheduling and Integration to Technical Information.” It was a topic that drew a large audience, since we described the impact of OEM revisions on airlines, specifically on the efficiency, consistency and cost of MRO operations. Within this context, Enigma introduced a strategy for improving revision management and adoption through better technology and integration with ERP, tech pubs and maintenance planning systems.
The fact is, how OEM revisions and engineering orders/modifications are managed and integrated into scheduled and unscheduled maintenance activities affects the speed and compliance of aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO). Since we are talking about revenue-generating assets, MRO efficiency and quality affects the very core of business operations. As a result, for many airlines keeping tech pubs and ERP/MRO systems up-to-date and synchronized has become a full-time job. (This is not unique to airlines but affects every transportation company and transit authority.)
Of particular interest to this audience was that Enigma automatically extracts information from the OEM’s illustrated parts catalogs (IPC), maintenance planning documents (MPD) and maintenance manuals (AMM/EM) and then updates the master parts list (MPL), maintenance requirements (MR) and job cards (task cards) in SAP. This ensures that service and parts data is always in-sync across the airline, whether it is used in a hangar/depot or in the field/flight-line. Since OEMs revise and update their technical documents frequently, airlines consider data accuracy and synchronization to be a huge benefit in terms of maintenance productivity, quality and compliance.
Another consideration is that because technical content directly impacts an airline’s second largest workforce (mechanics and engineers), the quality of that content, more than almost any other factor, determines if an MRO/ERP system succeeds or fails. When Enigma shared some industry metrics regarding the number of OEM changes, and the impact on maintenance operations, it proved the point and highlighted the need for an integrated solution of SAP, HCL-Axon and Enigma to improve aircraft MRO.
The audience in Dallas was very receptive to the insights Enigma was able to provide. Following our presentation, we had a number of conversations regarding the application of this solution beyond airlines including: rail, maritime and freight. We appreciate SAP inviting Enigma to participate in this annual event and hope to have similar opportunities in the future.
In my previous post (The New Flying Fortress) I suggested that the way Boeing and Airbus deliver technical data is unsuitable for modern day maintenance systems. This post describes how OEM data formats limit the airlines, forcing them to treat maintenance planning (ERP/MRO) and maintenance execution as separate worlds. The difference is like getting a vinyl record album when all you own is an iPod.
Part of the problem with OEM data is historic; the maintenance manuals for many older fleets were not created according to AMTOSS standards. But the main problem is that OEMs designed their systems as a standalone/closed environment.
How can you tell if a technical document is standalone (i.e. for reference only)?
PDF format — When OEMs deliver manuals in PDF, they're telling airlines they don't care about business productivity. PDF is of limited use for integration, automation or e-commerce. In fact, PDF is designed to behave, quite literally, like electronic paper.
- Scanned PDF displays text as a raster image, like a picture, so that a person can read it but a computer cannot. Optical character recognition (OCR) may convert the raster to computer text but conversion accuracy raises valid concerns for highly regulated industries like aviation and there is very little automation possible.
- Standard PDF allows cut/paste and search/extract of specific text strings, allowing some level of automation, but the result will be a customized solution that must be closely monitored and maintained.
For example: Most airlines receive Boeing MPD (maintenance planning document) in PDF format. However, they create this document using sophisticated tools and could easily publish it in a more usable format such as SGML, XML or MS-Excel spread sheets (like Airbus does).
Structure, layout and presentation — OEMs often design their technical content for printed paper, not for computer displays. Such an approach means that the maintenance information can be easily understood by mechanics but presents a greater challenge for computer systems. On paper it may look good, but a deeper look at the data reveals:
- Inconsistency with the ATA spec—yet it still prints properly
- Missing data tags—important information that isn't properly marked
- Fragmentation—related information marked as separate topics
OEM maintenance data that comes in PDF format or that has inconsistent design cannot be easily linked to the airline's ERP system. Without this integration, maintenance accuracy, efficiency and costs, will suffer.
As an example, inventory management and forecasting is critical to an airline. One of the most important features of ERP/MRO is the management of parts, tools, equipment and resources. In the ERP system airlines need to have: master configuration, parts list, alternative items and important part attributes such as position, symmetry, interchangeability, priority and serialization.
Having the illustrated parts catalog (IPC) as a paper document may be handy when standing next to the aircraft, but it doesn't help much when planning maintenance and inventory. What is really important is to know the correct parts beforehand and to understand which parts can be used in each location. In that sense, even if the OEM's IPC is delivered in SGML/XML (not PDF) it is still for reference only. Here are a few examples of the problem:
- Alternative item group (AIG)—Alternate parts can be inferred from the documentation, but it is not provided in the actual part data. Explicit references to alternate parts are sometimes included, other times they're only mentioned within the text, or they may only appear in the PNR (the part index section of the IPC).
- Interchangeability information—In this case Boeing claims to have adopted the Airbus attribute, but they're not using it. It appears in the document type definition (DTD), that specifies how computers should interpret various tags, but it has never been added to the data itself. Airbus is slightly better, but still this information is often missing. One might assume that the master configuration interchangeability is always one-way, but when you get to the unit configuration it is hard to tell.
- Position, symmetry, priority—All behave in the same manner.
When airlines request the original structured information they can get it...sometimes. (Maybe if they're a really big customer.) But the IPC is an example of a larger problem of data quality and consistency that holds true across all the maintenance manuals. In an industry that operates some of the world's most sophisticated machines, and has some of the highest safety concerns, the documentation strategy of Boeing and Airbus is sending the cost of maintenance into the stratosphere.
Will the OEMs ever provide data in a format that ties into the airline's MRO/ERP and improves maintenance and planning? Or will they try and force airlines to use proprietary applications that don't? Today, mechanics are getting aircraft information off the equivalent of a record player, when what they really need is an iPod.
"Flying fortress" was the nickname of the Boeing B-17 WWII bomber, and indeed it was. It was a high flying, long range, durable, versatile, complex (and in many ways beautiful) piece of machinery.
Today's modern airplanes can be compared to a flying fortress, factory or retail store. They consist of multiple complex systems that must work seamlessly, and continuously, to produce value. Keeping airplanes flying is hard work. However, it's the word "flying" that makes airplane maintenance more complex than a factory or retail store.
Just like a large factory, airplanes need to be serviced and replenished so that they can keep generating revenue. For that, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems exist: managing inventory, resources, planning and scheduling. In simple words, the ERP determines "who does what, when, and where?" Unfortunately, the technical documentation provided by manufacturers, which describes "how" to fix the airplanes, is not built to support modern airlines and their ERP systems. Using the B-17 analogy, it seems that OEMs care less about the "flying" and more about the "fortress."
The OEM maintenance applications are built like a fortress, or a prison, designed to protect those critical user manuals. Boeing and Airbus assume that airline customers are willing to work inside their private little dungeons. In fact, even the very latest "tool box" by Boeing is a closed application that's difficult to break into, and even harder to break out of.
The problem is that most airlines have a diverse aircraft fleet including Airbus, Boeing and other brands. Airlines need a single maintenance system to manage them all, rather than a separate maintenance application for each fleet. Further complicating the situation, airlines use the OEM documentation as "reference only" with best practices constantly being written and implemented by the engineering department.
The reality is that each airline has different maintenance practices that reflect their own needs, and every airplane in their fleet is handled differently—different missions, different options, different repair history, different configuration. Airlines need to load the OEM information into their own ERP systems to manage inventory and maintenance processes across locations—including those provided by 3rd party MROs.
Outsiders may find it surprising to learn that airlines have better maintenance knowledge than the OEMs. Airline maintenance plans are based on the real-world experience of daily operations, as well as the heavy responsibility of ensuring passenger safety. Airlines need an easy way to connect or import OEM maintenance information to the ERP system so that they can quickly implement an "as maintained" view of maintenance requirements that augments the OEM data.
Unfortunately, the document fortresses built by Boeing and Airbus don't make this easy to do. Whether this stems from poor programming or is done as a way to force airlines to use OEM parts, the fact is that the data required for airlines' ERP systems is not readily available. As a result, it costs airlines a fortune (in money and time) to load maintenance data into their ERP systems, which creates a fragmented maintenance information system.
The ATA spec that governs the presentation of maintenance information covers most of the data needs for ERP integration. It's the ability to actually implement the OEM data according to these specs, and make it portable, that is the issue.
In future posts, I will discuss issues pertaining to ERP-based aircraft maintenance and how it is supported, or not, by the OEM documentation. We will cover maintenance requirements, maintenance tasks and equipment lists, forecasting and inventory management, as well as the lack of alternates (AIG) information, which is critical to the master parts list and drives every aspect of the ERP. Airlines need all of these processes to be based on "as maintained" practices, reliability, cost and distribution across multiple locations.
Maintaining a plane is a non-stop operation—around the clock and around the world. Unlike the B-17, the new "flying fortress" built by the OEMs is not a defender of liberty and freedom, it is a prison for maintenance information. In today's world, the complexity of airline operations cannot survive under such constraints.
According to a Fact Sheet on Airworthiness Directive Compliance, “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is strengthening the procedures used by air carriers, manufacturers, and the FAA to ensure that air carriers comply with Airworthiness Directives (ADs).” If the FAA is worried about airlines’ compliance with ADs, perhaps you should be too. Whether you’re an OEM, airline or passenger, this issue has an impact on you. The FAA issues ADs to ensure aircraft remain flight worthy. (That’s a fancy way to say that the government insists any airplane that takes-off must be safe to do so.) With so many different makes and models of airplanes, different airlines, routes and airports, and so many mechanics, that’s a tall order. Nevertheless, the safety of the public (both in the air and on the ground) requires it. (Thanks to Lee Ann Tegtmeier of Aviation Week for highlighting this in her MRO blog.)
ADs come in a variety of flavors. Some address potential problems that must be inspected/resolved during the next scheduled maintenance, while others address urgent issues that must be inspected/resolved before the next flight. Regardless of the circumstances, the FAA wants to make sure that ADs are implemented efficiently, consistently and, in certain cases, very, very quickly.
The problem is that aircraft are complex machines and each airline configures and operates each airplane just a little bit differently. As a result, each aircraft is unique, and ADs can be issued that apply only to specific airplanes within a fleet. (For example, some twin-engine aircraft must adhere to ETOPS rules (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards) and some don’t. It all depends upon the mission/route of that airplane.) This makes it difficult for airlines to know which of the 250 different ADs that get issued each year require their compliance. In fact, after investigating a situation in 2008 that resulted in thousands of cancelled flights the FAA wrote, “The team found that problems in service instructions, workmanship, communications within industry and with the FAA, and FAA inconsistencies in determining AD compliance all contributed to the cancellations and service disruptions.”
Of course, I probably wouldn’t be writing about this if I didn’t think there was a solution. The solution, quite simply, is Enigma. On this blog I try hard not to brag but, as they say, “It ain’t bragging if it’s true.” Furthermore, this is a serious situation (at least the FAA seems to think so). Enigma has already deployed the technology allowing airlines to retrieve ADs from the FAA and automatically connect them to the Aircraft Maintenance Manuals (AMM), Engine Manuals (EM), Illustrated Parts Catalogs (IPC) and any other relevant documents. Furthermore, once this information is in Enigma, the Maintenance Planning Documents (MPD), Master Parts Lists (MPL) and Job Cards will automatically reflect the new requirements within the AD, thereby assuring safety and compliance. (Last week’s blog, about a roundtable with JAL and United, described how they can now immediately deploy critical maintenance information.)
This is a blog post, so it’s meant to be short and sweet. Let me just say, we understand the problem, we have a solution, and we’d love to speak with you about how to quickly fix this situation.
I just came back from the SAP Airlines Summit in Texas, which assembled over one hundred airline and MRO professionals from around the world: an impressive cross-section of the commercial aviation industry.
Jonathan Yaron, Enigma’s CEO, sat on a panel with Yasushi Suzuka, Vice President – Maintenance Corporate Planning & Administration, Engineering & Maintenance at Japan Airlines, Paul Noah, Project Manager for Application Development at United Airlines, and Phil Te Hau, Director Solution Management, Travel Services Industry Solutions at SAP. It was a roundtable discussion on “Maintenance Scheduling and Integration to Technical Information” and there was significant interest regarding the role of service information in MRO scheduling, and hangar and line maintenance.
The fact is, while most large airlines use software for maintenance scheduling, they still rely on paper for maintenance execution and approval. If you look closely at the entire maintenance environment you will see that technical information affects nearly every activity. So, in an environment where electronic information is driving everything from maintenance scheduling, to inventory, to supply chains, productivity is being de-railed by the paper trail. There is so much technical information required to properly service and repair an aircraft that paper-driven processes can’t keep up. This is the challenge that these industry experts discussed—how airlines and MRO shops can enjoy the benefits of moving to electronic processes while improving safety and compliance.
Before integrating technical information into the MRO scheduling environment, some airlines reported a 2-6 month lag between receiving revised OEM manuals and delivering approved changes into the hands of technicians. Panel members indicated that modern systems can accomplish this very complex process in a matter of days. (That includes comparing the new revision against current practices, resolving potential conflicts, processing approvals and delivering to the field.)
In another example from the panel, preparing documentation necessary for a D-Check (a major maintenance event), which used to take months, can now be accomplished in minutes. Other issues that were addressed include: supporting 3rd party MROs in this environment; lack of synchronization between Maintenance Planning Documents (MPD) and Master Parts Lists (MPL); configuration control (especially for ETOPS aircraft); and the ways in which PDF and SGML/XML can work together.
The audience seemed to appreciate the insights provided by these aviation experts. This was a candid conversation between airlines and solution providers that discussed current technical challenges as well as future opportunities. We appreciate SAP inviting us to participate in this event and hope to have similar opportunities in the future.