Artificial Intelligence Solutions for Safer Flying

Published Mar-27-19

The use of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to detect potential airplane faults before they become an issue.

Airbus, Netherlands

The Story:

Artificial Intelligence Solutions for Safer Flying One of the biggest causes of airplane disasters is faulty or overlooked maintenance. While flying is statistically the safest form of travel the industry is always looking at new ways to make it even safer.

Right now, there is a huge buzz about using big data and artificial intelligence (AI) for predictive maintenance. According to a 2018 survey conducted by Honeywell Aerospace, a manufacturer of plane engines and avionics, airlines are looking to invest in aircraft connectivity upgrades for predictive aircraft maintenance in increasing numbers. The technology can predict potential maintenance failures on an aircraft before they occur and cause delays or worse.

Aviation Open Data Platform

Among those companies already investing in artificial intelligence and predictive technologies is the European aerospace manufacturer Airbus. It is doing this by migrating historical plane and fleet maintenance information to a cloud-based aviation data platform known as Skywise. Additionally, the company is installing systems on planes that record thousands of data parameters in real-time. After each flight, the data is uploaded to the Skywise system to enable it to make predictions.

“As an example, this data can record how the pressure of a certain type of hydraulic pump is gradually reducing over time,” said Norman Baker, senior vice president, Digital Solutions, at Airbus, in an interview with the EE Times.

“The Skywise analytics engine could then interpolate and ‘flag’ to the airline that the pump will likely be fine for the next five flights, but that failure is very likely to occur within ten more flights.”

The power of the system is enhanced still further when this recorded data is correlated with similar data that is continuously recorded on hundreds of aircraft across all operators globally

Among the benefits of using the Skywise system are:

• Improved operational efficiency through predictive and preventative maintenance.
• Rapid analysis of the cause of problems.
• Optimizing the performance of individual aircraft through data analytics of flight
• Tracking the effectiveness of maintenance over time.

It should also be able to reduce the amount of unplanned maintenance, which is the result of something going wrong unexpectedly. This is often costly and inconvenient because a plane has to be taken out of service at short notice and parts have to be ordered. Unlike planned maintenance, it can put a lot of strain on airline operations.

Several airline companies are already benefiting from using this new data platform. They include AirAsia, Delta Air Lines, easyJet, Hong Kong Airlines and Emirates. They have been able to mitigate unplanned maintenance downtime, increase the efficiency of spares inventory management and anticipate maintenance tasks.

Game-Changing Technology

Predictive analytics in aviation could be a game-changer. Currently, maintenance delays cost the US airline industry $9 billion per year, a figure that could be cut dramatically with the widespread adoption of new technologies. At the same time, predictive aviation will improve passenger safety and on-time performance.

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