The airline data and information dam is breaking and like any spilled water, it is creating disruptions both upstream and downstream. Upstream is where the current and past airline operational data reside and downstream is where the exponential growth of information technology is going.

However, “moribund” best describes many airlines’ technical information systems driving operations and maintenance.

Two intersecting factors will change this: the great strides in improved aircraft reliability and safety, and the rapid advancement of information technology. This is opening the door for opportunities to exploit voids in airline operations data systems with products and services which technology can improve and create profit centers. Since the Paris Air Show, we have seen major OEMs such as Boeing, Airbus, Honeywell and GE as well as companies such as IBM and AT&T and large consulting firms like Accenture announce new ventures and products utilizing analytics, potentially resulting in the most significant step change in airline operations since jet aircraft.

Today’s airline system evolved with rules and regulations based on a craftsman mentality. That entails depending on individuals and each airline to have the capability to analyze problems, create effective operational systems and have sufficient analytical capability for monitoring and analysis.

Our MRO analytics programs threw out very large nets to catch tuna, and while they did that, they also caught much else, wasting valuable resources. Now the analytics and technology are available to catch just tuna. So instead of setting a maintenance interval for the whole fleet, with today’s technology the limit can be set precisely to monitor an individual part’s condition so that intervention can be done as needed.

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