Kick off to smarter airplane maintenance

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Today, 13 partners from 7 European countries gathered in Delft to mark the beginning of a new approach towards the maintenance of airplanes. This multi-industry team covering the entire value chain for aircraft health management will collaborate the coming four years in ReMAP. Main goal is to use the terabytes of data a modern airplane generates in a far more efficient way. Technical Project Coordinator Bruno Santos: “Nowadays parts are still replaced at pre-scheduled intervals, even when they haven’t reached their lifetime yet. With the available data we want to provide a reliable estimation of the remaining lifetime of all airplane parts and fully exploit them.” ReMAP will have an estimated benefit to the European aviation of more than 700 million Euro per year. The European Commission finances this project with 6.8 million Euros from Horizon2020 programme – the major EU Research and Innovation financial instrument.

Fleet Health Field Test

Bruno Santos: “For the first time, the use of health diagnostics and prognostics from dissimilar aircraft systems and structures will be used to create real-time adaptive maintenance plans, following appropriate regulations. A fleet level approach will be followed, since the potential of condition based maintenance (CBM) can only be achieved by monitoring the health of all aircraft in a fleet, managing maintenance resources and operational needs. The reliability and safety of the resulting Integrated Fleet Health Management (IFHM) solution will be investigated in a 6-month field test.” 

New techniques

All available data from the aircraft system and structures as well as other external data must come together in one IT platform. The ReMAP-team will define and build that. Sensors will be developed to monitor the structural integrity of airplanes. Machine-learning methods will be used to develop the new diagnostic and prognostic algorithms as well as the fleet maintenance management decision support tool. “The idea of condition-based maintenance is not new,” says Bruno Santos, “but its application in aviation is minimal. Now there is no roadmap for its implementation. We want to provide this roadmap and prove that the current safety level can be maintained or even improved.” 

ReMAP players

ReMAP involves aircraft manufacturers (Airbus, Embraer SA), worldwide systems suppliers (Thales, UTAS), a major airline and MRO (KLM), aerostructures suppliers (EMB, OPT), SMEs who develop sensor technologies (CTEC, STEC), renowned research centres (UTRCI, ONERA), and four universities (ENSAM, TUD, UC, UPAT), an IT services corporation (ATOS), and a technology transfer institute (IPN). This collaboration guarantees the consolidation of innovative technologies and catalyses future developments towards the exploitation and commercial use of these technologies.

Paulo Rupino Cunha

Paulo Rupino Cunha

Assistant Professor of Information Systems with Habilitation and former head of the IS Group at the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra, Portugal. Director of Informatics and Systems Lab of Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN), a non-profit association for Innovation and Technology Transfer.

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