Analyzing data to improve engine maintenance
Safran offers innovative predictive maintenance services to airlines, as well as business aircraft and helicopter operators. Our engine data collection and analysis systems obviously facilitate the coordination of maintenance operations.
FOCUS ON PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE
Alain, a maintenance technician at Safran Aircraft Engines, can call on 30 years of experience. That's why he's taking charge of the new apprentices who have just joined his team.
The previous day, for instance, he welcomed Théo, only 21 years old. After earning a vocational high-school degree in aeronautics, Theo is now starting a work-study program to earn a degree in aircraft maintenance.
He will soon be joining the workshop to learn about aircraft engine maintenance, both preventive and curative. Before this hands-on training starts, however, Alain briefs him on Safran's predictive maintenance approach, based on an advanced analysis of aircraft operating data to plan ahead for specific MRO (maintenance, repair, overhaul) actions.
DETECTING PRELIMINARY SIGNS
As he takes the young apprentice on a tour of the plant, Alain asks him, "Have they already told you about our new maintenance technologies? As you may know, our primary emphasis todayis on acquiring and analyzing data."
Théo nods his head, adding "Big data?" With a smile, Alain continues: "I see we're not going to waste any time here! Of course, it's true that you grew up with the Internet…". He quickly explains to the youngster that this data comes from sensors directly embedded in the plane's systems. Key parameters such as temperature, pressure, vibrations and parts wear rates are then analyzed to give Safran a very powerful tool, used to improve current products, develop new services, and even improve production processes and organization.
"By analyzing this information," he continues, "we can anticipate failures even before they occur! And that means we can limit the time planes are on the ground for servicing – which in turn lowers operating costs. And that's something all airlines want!"
SPECIFIC SERVICES FOR COMMERCIAL JETLINERS
Alain brings Theo over to another part of the shop, as he continues his explanations. "Let me quickly tell you about some of our currently used systems, starting with WEFA - Wireless Extension For ACMS (Aircraft Condition Monitoring System). It's designed to monitor commercial jetliners, especially the Airbus A320 family of single-aisle jets. Huge volumes of data are collected in flight, then transmitted to the airline, which can quickly schedule a maintenance operation if needed."
Théo asks, "Wireless?" Alain replies, "Yes, and of course via a secure connection." Alain then brings Théo up to speed on Safran's Cassiopée range of flight data analysis services, designed to improve flight safety, reduce fuel consumption and optimize aircraft maintenance. "The raw data generated by the aircraft's systems is collected, then processed and analyzed by Safran's experts. The data is converted into useful information and sent to the maintenance crews, so they can service the aircraft without waiting."
SYSTEMS FOR BUSINESS AIRCRAFT AND HELICOPTERS
Theo naturally wonders, "Why do you need so many different tools?" Alain explains: "Quite simply because each type of aircraft has its own characteristics. For example, in the business aircraft market, Safran deploys its own global support network, dubbed ForeVision™, which allows users to monitor the performance of their engine in real time, based on embedded sensors. This information is automatically transmitted to the operator during the flight, and may give rise, if needed, to targeted maintenance recommendations."
Alain also brings up a system developed by Safran Helicopter Engines, BOOST (Bank Of Online Services and Technologies). "It's an online service, for engine maintenance management and scheduling, purpose-designed for helicopter operators."
OPTIMIZED MAINTENANCE FOR REDUCED FUEL CONSUMPTION
Alain continues his explanations, as he suggests they both take a seat. "As you can see, these new technologies are revolutionizing engine maintenance. And don't forget another package we offer, SFCO2, which stands for Smart Fuel CO2. It's also part of Cassiopée, which I mentioned earlier, and is designed to decrease airline costs by reducing their fuel consumption, which also means cutting their carbon dioxide releases into the atmosphere."
With SFCO2, Safran staff compile all information from the flight recorders and compare it to the airline's operational documents.
By analyzing this information, they can provide recommendations to improve operating practices to reduce fuel consumption, without increasing maintenance costs. Théo seems a bit overwhelmed with all this new information, but Alain seems to read his mind! "Don't worry, you won't have to take a test tomorrow! All you have to remember today is that we're lucky enough to have the technologies needed to remotely detect an anomaly right away. Our role is to act quickly and make the right maintenance choices."
- © Daniel Linares / Safran