Disrupting MRO with a data-led approach

Passenger aircraft on maintenance of engine and fuselage repair in airport hangar

Aging aircraft. Obsolete parts. Workforce shortages.

These are just a few challenges the U.S. Department of Defense cited in a Government Accountability Office report when it comes to aircraft readiness, according to management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. In the commercial aircraft sector, international air transport passenger traffic is on pace to recover by 2023-24, but the industry faces a lack of qualified mechanics, the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC) reports. The industry should expect a shortfall of 12,000 mechanics in the next 20 years, according to ATEC.

Meanwhile, the aerospace market is evolving, with digital technologies enabling more usage-based business models, such as “power by the hour” service agreements. Digital technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), provide real-time data that OEMs, suppliers and maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) teams need to manage costs and perform tasks more efficiently.  

However, many organizations struggle to make sense of the vast amounts of data streaming back from connected aircraft devices. Data analytics and 3D visualization tools are critical for the future of Aerospace and Defense (A&D) maintenance. When combined, they provide a powerful, real-world representation of operations performance and trends for more informed decision-making. It’s no wonder that the virtual twin experience market share for the A&D sector is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 30% by 2026, according to a recent report.

Dassault Systèmes is helping both the commercial aviation and defense industries translate big data into actionable insights with its 3DEXPERIENCE platform. It’s becoming a key tool in the MRO space to connect information from disparate systems and merge the data with a virtual model of the aircraft and its individual components.

Within the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, users can easily integrate design and data analytics tools with NETVIBES, which allows organizations to bring data together from various, often siloed, sources and transform it into meaningful, actionable information. Companies can also tie the NETVIBES Asset Quality Intelligence (AQI) solution for fast detection of quality issues. AQI consolidates data from all quality-related information and uses machine learning to identify trends.

The ability to see potential maintenance issues in real time could one day transform the way global defense systems manage their aircraft fleets. In the United States, a team of more than 350 engineering students at The National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University worked to create a digital “medical record” of every single part on U.S. Air Force legacy aircraft using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

The virtual twin experience allows engineers to inspect the aircraft for structural damage, add known maintenance data, and develop predictive analytical tools based on that information. In the future, it may be useful for testing new parts and simulating the impact a new mission may have on the lifespan of the aircraft and predict when parts will need to be replaced.

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform is also helping France increase fleet availability of the Rafale fighter. This includes using big data collection alongside a digital twin of the aircraft, facilitating the monitoring of the Rafale’s performance, lessons learned and enrichment of predictive maintenance algorithms. The focus on reliability has paid off for the Dassault Aviation’s team, increasing the fleet availability by 84% according to the report n°4601, volume VI, of the French National Assembly. This includes a lighter scheduled maintenance plan, more than 3,300 flight hours logged without having to change structural parts and fewer inspections needed.

The availability of contextualized data in a single virtual model enables true digital MRO. It’s a formula for more efficient, less costly and more reliable aircraft maintenance.

Want to know more?

To discover how Dassault Systèmes helps Aerospace & Defense players increasing fleet availability while reducing parts inventory, click here.

David Ziegler

David Ziegler

Vice President, Aerospace & Defense, David Ziegler leads the Dassault Systèmes Worldwide Aerospace & Defense Business through the development of its Industry leading Solution Experiences, based on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Prior to Dassault Systèmes, David held multiple positions in the Aerospace industry, including 12 years at Airbus both in France and the U.S., holding positions in Strategy, Sales and Business development, and most recently at Aéroports de Paris. A French citizen, David’s career in aerospace began when he obtained his Masters of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Supaero, followed by an MBA from INSEAD. Passionate about everything that flies, he also enjoys kite-surfing and spending time with his wife and two children, when he is not on a plane.