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Home >What does maintenance mean for aerospace?

What does maintenance mean for aerospace?

13 August 2018

Aircraft maintenance is highly regulated, because the smallest slip can lead to an aircraft crashing with consequent loss of life. The maintenance tasks, personnel and inspections are all tightly regulated and staff must be licensed for the tasks they carry out, as Andy Pye reports

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) sets global standards which are then implemented by national and regional bodies around the world. Maintenance includes tasks such as ensuring compliance with Airworthiness Directives or Service Bulletins.

Despite this, in-house maintenance can be inefficient for small airlines with a fleet below 50-60 aircraft. They have to either outsource it or sell their own MRO services to other carriers for better resource utilisation. For example, the maintenance on South African Comair's 26 Boeing 737s is outsourced to South African Airways' Technical Department. Spain’s Air Nostrum operates 45 CRJs and ATR72s and its 300-person maintenance department provides line, base maintenance and limited component repair for other airlines 20% of the time.

An increasingly common approach to maintenance in the aircraft industry is the "Power By The Hour" concept. A complete engine and accessory replacement service is provided, allowing the operator to accurately forecast this cost, and relieving him from purchasing stocks of engines and accessories. The term is trademarked by Rolls-Royce but is the common name in the industry.

Advanced maintenance concepts

Automated aircraft inspection systems have the potential to make aircraft maintenance safer and more reliable, using collaborative mobile robots and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Airbus has indicated that data diagnostics could put an end to aircraft unscheduled grounding for fault repairs around 2025, supported by big data and operational experience. In principle, the approach can tell that some parts do not need a scheduled check, but a full transition to this model will need much greater experience.
According to Geoff Turner, business consultant at product lifecycle management (PLM) company Design Rule, the use of VR throughout the aerospace manufacturing sector can save millions in development costs by eliminating the need for full-scale prototypes.

By designing aircraft in virtual space, designers can explore a virtual mock-up of the entire aircraft and can work to eliminate issues faster than normal. For example, should a vital gauge or access point be blocked by panelling, it can be easily adapted in a VR design in a space of hours, instead of taking weeks with prototyping and testing processes.

It’s not just the maintenance and engineering elements of the aircraft that are being designed in virtual spaces. For instance, Airbus has been working with VR technology since 1997 and uses Ramsis, or the realistic anthropological mathematical system, for interior simulation. This allows clients to experience an immersive 3D version of their cabin design.

According to Airbus engineer, Dieter Kasch, "You can install a seat, calibrate it with the interiors theme, and then sit in the aisle or window seat and see different views of your cabin from these varying positions. The important thing is that clients can now see what they're going to get. Changes at a late stage cost time and money, so it helps us deliver our aircraft on time and on budget.”

Maintec 2018

If you are involved in any aspect of maintenance in the aerospace sector industry make sure that Maintec 2018 is in your diary. Owned and run by CDA's parent company, Western Business Exhibitions, Maintec is the UK's only event dedicated the to maintenance engineering community.

Taking place at the NEC, Birmingham, 6-7th November, the event will once again include a comprehensive educational programme, part of which will be the Reliability Dialogue Theatre, hosted by Controls, Drives & Automation in association with event partners, Bosch Rexroth.

For further information visit www.maintec.co.uk