Digitalization In Aviation Also Concerns The MRO World
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Digitalization In Aviation Also Concerns The MRO World

Issue 13 - 2022
Digitalization In Aviation Also Concerns The MRO World

Based on the cliché "There are no old aircraft, there are poorly maintained aircraft!", it is obvious that not paying the necessary attention to the maintenance and repair of aircraft can have fatal consequences. The size of the global aviation MRO market reached USD 6.73 billion in 2021, despite the Covid-19 crisis that shook the world. The growth in the market is expected to continue in the same way. Industry reports predict that the market size, which is expected to reach USD 6.95 billion in 2022, will reach USD 9.76 billion by 2029, with an average annual growth rate of approximately 4.93%.

As a result of technological advances in commercial and military aviation, the aviation industry has become dominated by more data-driven and digital-based systems. As expected, the MRO world is also taking its share of these developments.

Global Airlines Successful in Logistics!

Turkish Airlines, our national airline, had the busiest day in its history on July 15, 2022, with 260,632 passengers on 1543 flights and broke a record. The fact that Turkish Airlines flies millions of passengers to over 350 destinations in 128 countries around the world with 386 aircraft in its fleet is a remarkable logistics achievement. 

One of the features that transforms the smooth execution of this operational process into a great success is undoubtedly the capacity to carry out routine and non-routine maintenance operations of the aircraft in the fleet in a well-adjusted manner, without disrupting flight schedules. 

All aircraft, their engines and other critical components have different maintenance requirements and periods. To be able to carry out all such maintenance without affecting commercial flights (or at least with minimal effect) requires being like a symphony orchestra performing in excellent synchronization. This is certainly a complex and challenging task not only for Turkish Airlines, but for all the global airlines around the world.

In the post-pandemic period, demand for air travel is bouncing back much faster than expected. With the increase in the number of airplanes and passengers in the skies going much ahead of the estimated schedule, all mechanisms of the aviation sector, which was caught unprepared for the circumstance, started to show various problems. Hundreds of meters long queues at airports, canceled flights and long delays, quick hiring processes to replace missing staff, addressing existing staff's training gaps, completing the maintenance of aircraft that have been grounded for a long time and getting them back in the air as soon as possible to increase operations, and many other things can be listed as the most critical reasons for the crisis that the industry is going through.

As more and more airplanes take to the skies, the maintenance processes required to keep them airworthy have become a serious challenge due to limited time. Technological advancements, which have always been an integral part of aviation, are ready to help the industry. At this point, the selection and inclusion of MRO software, which monitors the maintenance and repair processes of aircraft, plays a critical role for global airlines. 

Let's briefly examine the potential issues that global airlines may encounter with the systems and software they use to monitor aircraft maintenance and repair processes in the next days, when we anticipate an increase in demand for air travel, as well as the steps they must take to address them.

Renew the system as the fleet grows and minimize digital risks!

The aviation industry is, by its very nature, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the technology and digitalization. Every new technology that is developed addresses some aspects of the aviation industry, both to prove its functionality and to fill a gap or deficiency in the sector. At least, it speeds up and facilitates existing operations. In this regard, the win-win situation between technology and aviation is much stronger than in other sectors. However, as the maintenance processes of aircraft, which are very complex to monitor, are left in the hands of various software, it is necessary to better manage the risks and threats in terms of cyber security. The larger the airline's fleet grows, the more complicated it becomes to keep track of aircraft maintenance. As growth continues, the demand placed on MRO software increases. As the software grows, the vulnerabilities of the system come to light. This makes you become a much more potential target for cyber-attacks.

The key to mitigating threats is to be able to easily adapt the entire system to each new update and innovation. This requires frequent scanning for vulnerabilities. 

Testing software alone is undoubtedly insufficient. Vendors of MRO software need to adopt a clear security concept and create designs that close security gaps in the first place. Having done all this, it makes sense to leave the rest to customers to address less risky security issues as they come up with frequent updates.

Don't undervalue any data, it can be very useful!

The tracking and system limitations of airplane maintenance and repairs can be managed manually by airlines and operators with a small to medium-sized fleet. However, this is not possible for a business with hundreds of aircraft and thousands of maintenance employees.

Airlines with larger fleets need sophisticated automation systems in their maintenance and repair systems to ensure that engineering, planning and maintenance work together in the most efficient way possible. This is essential in order to analyze all the data in detail and make it meaningful, to model new business plans and to achieve deeper functionality through various simulations, thus creating optimal operating conditions.

A small improvement that can save one technician time in the course of their work, when applied to hundreds of technicians, can lead to a significant improvement in productivity. The potential outcomes of an apparently insignificant and unimportant contribution are proportional to the size of the business and indicate a truly organic improvement. Considering the big picture, that modest action could end up being a crucial improvement step for the entire operational process.

Simply said, as the organizational structure and business grows, the lack of a system that takes advantage of the possibilities of technology and fully integrates all processes can lead to a dead end. The largest airlines need all team members to work with the same performance data and produce the same results in all processes in order to compete with their rivals in today's challenging market. In other words, the system has to run like clockwork. The key to success is being able to anticipate when a process will conclude once it has begun, regardless of all other factors.

You have expanded the fleet, so how will you fly it?

With digitalization becoming inevitable and the fight against global climate change, each airline is striving for a paperless workflow model in all its processes. The function of MRO software is becoming much more critical for all businesses adopting a paperless maintenance and repair approach where work can be monitored in real time.

MRO software and systems designed to manage a smaller fleet can cause serious problems, especially when adapted for businesses with over 300 aircraft. Excessive data entry into the system can bring all MRO operations to a halt. This means an increase in the number of AOG incidents, extended maintenance, delayed aircraft rollout from the hangar, disrupted operations and, of course, high stress level. Keep in mind that, airplane on the ground costs money. We don't want the airplane to stay on the ground even one second longer.

Considering the principle of scalability and healthy growth targets for the future, it is essential to take appropriate steps for MRO solutions. Expanding the fleet alone may not be sufficient. Much more is required to keep that fleet airworthy and to carry out maintenance processes without affecting operations. 

To ensure that the MRO software and solutions consistently meet the desired performance criteria, it is critical to test them at various scales. It is of great importance that you don't overlook the stakeholders who will take the steps necessary for you to fly that fleet smoothly as you expand your fleet.

In conclusion, investments in MRO process management software are essential for an airline to develop and gain market share in today’s aviation. With a well-structured MRO process, the business will save time, reduce costs, and significantly increase passenger satisfaction by maximizing the lifespan and performance of the aircraft. Naturally, this signals significant business gains 

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