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Closing the Engineering and MRO Technology Gap in Aviation

Aug 04th 2023
Closing the Engineering and Maintenance Technology Gap

With more planes and more flying, the need to address the technology gap across aviation is greater than ever and digital transformation is central to this.

In particular, Engineering and MRO teams are feeling the pressure of growing travel demand and the increase in fleet size.  Outdated, manual processes and systems, labour shortages, non-routine tasks to handle – are slowing Engineering and MRO teams down, when they need, more than ever to speed up to deliver faster aircraft turnaround times. So how can they keep pace with a rapidly growing industry and demands for increased turnaround times? Simply put - Digital Transformation must be top of the agenda.

By the end of 2023, the MRO market will nearly return to its 2019 peak and will then surpass it in 2024.  Between 2023 and 2033, Oliver Wyman expects the market to grow at an annual rate of 2.9%, reaching $125 billion in those 10 years. However with a looming shortfall of engineers and difficulties in attracting new talent - technology transformation is essential to revolutionize aviation engineering and maintenance, enhancing safety, efficiency, and reducing turnaround times and attracting the next gen aviation workforce.

Let’s take a look at the key ways in which digital transformation can overcome the challenges faced by Engineering and MRO teams:  

Digital first documentation management to overcome complexity and content access problems  

Complexity and access problems to technical documentation is causing extensive inefficiencies across aviation engineering and maintenance. Technical documentation can be inconsistent and hard to access with issues such as poor user interfaces, missing links, inconsistencies, misplaced images/ diagrams and discrepancies due to delays in updates to manuals.

To overcome this, a comprehensive and cloud-based digital documentation platform systems to streamline maintenance and engineering documentation and processes is key. Enabling seamless communication between engineering teams, maintenance crews, and regulatory bodies. Advanced digitisation reduces administrative burdens, improves compliance, and ensures that everyone involved has access to the latest data, at the right time.

Improving the speed and accuracy of maintenance and engineering tasks, reducing human error and enhancing overall efficiency – both from a time and cost perspective.

Digital processes and a single source of all OEM data to improve turn-around time  

The most critical and challenging KPI for Engineering and MRO is especially time grounded. Engineering and maintenance delays contribute a lot to network disruption, which is the most significant inefficiency cost for airlines. Maximizing uptime is the goal for any airline, and Engineering and MRO teams need to be empowered with the right digital tools for speed, accuracy, and efficiency to meet tight deadlines. Advanced digital documentation platform that centralises all OEM data is a critical ally in helping meet those goals.  

Omnichannel access to reduce the time required to complete tasks and processes

Omnichannel is the ability to provide access to any type of engineering content in a consistent manner across all platforms – mobile phones, tablets, desktops. Whether that is maintenance control at a desktop or an engineer on an iPad, the content and user experience is identical. The benefits of providing advanced mobile access across engineering and maintenance teams is well documented.

A large full service carrier has reported a saving of $40m in the first year of equipping their maintenance teams with mobile devices to access real-time information about aircraft maintenance schedules, reducing the time required to complete maintenance tasks and improving operational efficiency. 

Data analytics and AI for fast digital decisioning  

Every airline has data that holds critically important information that could transform their performance. But accessing, managing and using it can be a huge problem, especially when it’s stored in multiple formats across different departments, making it hard to identify, investigate, analyse and share in a productive and proactive way.

Accessible and understandable data analytics across engineering and MRO teams will play a significant role in driving efficiencies by enabling teams to make data-informed decisions at the point of execution. Putting data into the hands of non-data experts, empowering them with the information they need to improve speed and accuracy, ultimately increasing aircraft turnaround time.

AI-driven predictive maintenance models can predict component failures, enabling airlines to address potential issues before they become critical, thus minimising disruptions and lowering maintenance costs.

Digital to attract the next gen aviation engineer and close the labour gap  

According to a survey by Oliver Wyman, labor shortages are one of the top challenges facing aviation engineering and MROs today. As the demand for air travel rises, airlines are struggling to find and retain qualified personnel to avoid delays in repairs, maintenance backlog, and a decrease in customer satisfaction.

In order to attract and retain new talent across engineering and maintenance, the tools and tech they use must mirror the ‘digital first’ lifestyle they are accustomed to. Essentially ‘empowering’ teams with the latest digital advances in hand-held technology and with the ability to harness real-time data in their day-to day to optimise productivity. Reducing time-consuming manual processes while freeing up their workforce to focus on more complex tasks.

The digital transformation of aviation engineering and maintenance is an equally important and transformative journey  

There is a critical need to accelerate the adoption of innovative solutions in Engineering and MRO across mobile technology, data accessibility and digital tools -  to enable teams to be faster, leaner and do more with less.

Connected aircraft, digital processes, data analytics, AI-driven maintenance and omnichannel data access, are just some of the facets of this transformation that are revolutionizing the aviation industry and in particular Engineering and MRO. Making air travel more efficient, safer and enabling airlines to drive significant cost efficiencies across operations.