MRO IT Case Studies: How M&E Programs Are Making Airlines Better

MRO IT Case Studies: How M&E Programs Are Making Airlines Better

There is no doubt that Maintenance & Engineering (M&E)/MRO software platforms are improving the quality, speed, and compliance of airline maintenance programs worldwide. The evidence can be found in the five following MRO IT (information technology) case studies below. All provide indisputable proof that the integration, monitoring, and management of an airline’s MRO functions using end-to-end software solutions is the right move for any carrier to make, no matter how large or small they may be.

Aerogility Making Life Easier for easyJet

When easyJet wanted to update its MRO IT platform, the company turned to Aerogility (www.aerogility.com). In fact, easyJet was the first airline to implement the Aerogility platform. “It employs a model-based artificial intelligence (AI) to create a digital twin of an airline’s fleet and sustainment operations,” said Phil Cole, Aerogility’s airline business manager. “Over the past five years, easyJet has been utilizing Aerogility daily across its entire maintenance operation. Feedback from this extensive use has enabled us to create new and improved interactive planning tools and capabilities.”

For the record, model-based AI “is a predictive tool that enables the user to interrogate the data and the output conclusions,” said www.aerogility.com. “It operates according to a behavioral model, where each key element in a business or organizational system — such as an asset, a facility or a decision-maker — can be represented as an agent and configured to act in a particular way. The model is the result of these individual agents operating and interacting with each other to create accurate simulations.”

When it comes to MRO IT support, “Aerogility uses model-based AI to create a digital twin of an airline’s fleet and sustainment operations,” Cole said. A ‘digital twin’ is a real-time virtual replica of the airline’s aircraft and other physical assets, constantly modified by collected onboard performance and diagnostic to keep it in line with its ‘physical twin’.

The real power of a digital twin for aircraft maintenance is its ability to be used by an AI-enabled platform to project maintenance trends and possible responses into the future. “With its agent-based nature, Aerogility allows users to quickly alter planning parameters and create what-if scenarios for instant side-by-side comparison,” said Cole. “You can use this virtual representation to conduct forecast planning while considering constraints such as peak period shutdowns and limited MRO capacity/capabilities. This allows our customers to make more informed decisions and optimize operations, to improve efficiency and reduce costs.”

Back to easyJet. According to Phil Cole, the airline layered Aerogility on top of its existing MRO management and transactional systems, using these connections and its model-based AI engine to help them interpret their MRO data to make better and more useful maintenance decisions, in a faster and more timely manner.

“Implementing Aerogility involves seeding the model with a simple CSV export from any management information system (MIS) into the Aerogility model, replacing the current plan with Aerogility’s solution,” he explained. “A key aspect of Aerogility is its ease of integration with surrounding systems. For example, if modifications are required to an airline’s MIS, this will have no impact on Aerogility’s implementation.”

With Aerogility in place, easyJet has been able to make better, more informed MRO decisions for its fleet. This is true for day-to-day operations, as well as for scheduled heavy base, mid-term, landing gear and powerplant maintenance procedures. “Using Aerogility in our engine shop visit program has significantly helped to simplify the process of producing our engine shop visit plan,” said Alejandro Lopez Ruesca, easyJet’s head of powerplant. “It is a great piece of software; very user-friendly, incredibly fast, with support provided by an always helpful group of people.”

“easyJet’s improved visibility into its maintenance operations is common to Aerogility users,” Cole noted. The reason: “Most of our customers convert to Aerogility from manual and labor-intensive solutions, such as spreadsheets or project management tools, which prove limiting when scaling their fleet,” he said. “These solutions often result in a lack of understanding and collaborative planning among groups, teams and departments, with a heavy reliance on individual employees.”

This airline is certainly happy with its decision to implement Aerogility to manage its fleet.

“Aerogility has provided us with an essential tool to help deliver our business strategy — to drive down costs and maximize the number of aircraft available to our customers,” said Swaran Sidhu, easyJet’s head of fleet technical management. “We are really excited by the enhanced maintenance forecasting and planning capabilities this gives our team.”

EmpowerMX Empowers EAMS and Others

When Embraer Aircraft Maintenance Services (EAMS) of Nashville, Tenn., wanted to upgrade their MRO IT system, they selected EmpowerMX (empowermx.com). “EAMS was looking for a solution to improve technician efficiencies and reduce late deliveries,” said Levi Schmidt, EmpowerMX’s managing director of customer excellence. “EmpowerMX specializes in planning and execution of aircraft maintenance during line visits and heavy checks. To optimize these processes, we also offer full material solutions, integrations, and 100% paperless options.”

Moving EAMS to this MRO software required some investigative work on the part of EmpowerMX. To make it happen, “we needed to understand their current processes and application needs,” Schmidt said. “Part of the migration process included data mapping so things like skill codes, task types, crew structures, and department workflows were all familiar to the teams working the projects.”

“Where EAMS was instrumental was in realizing that all tools require proper use,” he added. “Their implementation specialist, who would ultimately become EAMS’ internal subject matter expert (SME), had a background in aviation maintenance from several perspectives, including project management, lead technician, and technician. As well, they were a part of that company’s Continuous Improvement team. This elevated their ability to implement EmpowerMX at EAMS and deliver the desired results.

Like EAMS, many customers have seen positive outcomes after successfully implementing EmpowerMX solutions. To learn more about these successes, case studies are available on the EmpowerMX website (www.empowermx.com/resources). These case studies illustrate how the four pillars of business success—safety, quality, delivery, and cost — have been improved in each.

tablet screen EmpowerMX

EmpowerMX has been proven to be effective in improving safety and quality, with one group demonstrating a 50% reduction in injuries, two groups showing a 42% and 55% reduction in paperwork and dock errors, and the last group showing a 25% reduction in quality escapes.

In all case studies, delivery was an important metric as customers expect to receive their aircraft or component back in a timely manner. The first case study saw a dramatic decrease in delayed deliveries, from 67% to just 10%. The second case study also saw a significant decrease in delayed deliveries, from 62% to less than 5%. One case study even reported 100% of aircraft delivered on time for six out of seven months, demonstrating the effectiveness of the strategies implemented.

Within the first two years of implementation, customers reported at least 10% efficiency gains, contributing to a reduction in delayed aircraft. This allowed one case study to add an additional heavy check line without hiring additional resources, while another case study used their efficiency gains of 16% to increase throughput and generate additional revenue without adding any resources.

EXSYN Aviation Solutions and Malaysia Airlines Collaborate for Enhanced Success

Embracing the philosophy of perseverance, Malaysia Airlines recognized the need for a more effective Maintenance & Engineering (M&E) software solution after initial implementation fell short of their expectations. Determined to achieve optimal results, the airline sought the expertise of EXSYN Aviation Solutions (www.exsyn.com) for their comprehensive support in ensuring the seamless operation of Malaysia Airlines’ M&E/AMOS (Aircraft Maintenance & Engineering System) platform. Together, these two entities joined forces to propel the airline towards greater success.

EXSYN has to find and fix a number of problems to get to this point. “For instance, the airline’s component configurations and statuses were being tracked over multiple programs, making it challenging to provide a holistic overview of these components’ airworthiness status,” said Rob Vermeij, head of operations at EXSYN Aviation Solutions. “This situation resulted in potential human errors and discrepancies in airworthiness data despite their best efforts, which is not uncommon in the industry.” As well, Malaysia Airlines faced difficulties with inter-departmental communications, which led to ineffective project decisions, outputs and results.

To address these and other problems, EXSYN began by assessing the current state of data migration onto the new M&E/AMOS platform at Malaysia Airlines. “The data was analyzed through an automated validation process to flag any major potential gaps and issues that would need to be solved during the project,” Vermeij said. “The final result paved a concrete way forward to achieve the project’s ambitious timelines. Malaysia Airlines appreciated this analysis and contracted EXSYN to implement this new data migration approach to accelerate the project while guaranteeing the quality of airworthiness data.”

To make this happen, EXSYN joined up with a local team of Malaysian Airlines employees and trained them on its data migration methodologies and NEXUS tooling (which manages data related to aircraft airworthiness critical processes). “We established direct connections to all source systems (databases) and/or created standardized inputs based on reports, which fed into the library of pre-built components that EXSYN made based on our long experience with different M&E systems,” said Vermeij. “This approach enabled Malaysian Airlines to catch up quickly with NEXUS and empowered them to tackle different heavy engineering topics, such as modifications data, autonomously. EXSYN also coordinated the data migration process, providing expert support on both project management and deep technical levels while taking on some of the data migration tasks directly to ensure timely completion.”

EXSYN used a phased approach to ensure that the Malaysia Airlines’ M&E/AMOS project went smoothly as possible. For example, “we first created an early baseline data load to make the initial plan and expectations from data mapping tangible and provide a reference point for progression,” Vermeij said. “After that, we focused on getting all the static data in good shape, which defined all maintenance and airworthiness requirements of the fleet and supporting services. This phase typically required a few iterations. Then, we shifted focus to the dynamic data of the fleet, such as last done/next due date, aircraft configurations, and stock levels. From there onwards, the aim in terms of data validation moved towards getting an accurate maintenance forecast and fleet status.”

Eight months after EXSYN had signed onto the project, Malaysia Airlines achieved the M&E/AMOS goals that they were seeking. Better yet, “we were able to accelerate the project while ensuring the quality of airworthiness data, enabling the airline to achieve significant efficiency gains in their engineering and maintenance operations,” said Vermeij.

“To get a project like this through the gate successfully, full commitment on all levels in the organization is required,” he added. “Then you must staff the project with motivated people who are also empowered to make individual decisions for their expertise. Only with such a team and mindset are meeting timelines like these remotely possible.”

Ramco Brings Iraqi Airways into the Digital Age

Iraqi Airways is the national carrier of Iraq, headquartered on the grounds of Baghdad International Airport. It is the second oldest airline in the Middle East, having commenced service on January 29, 1946, using five De Havilland Dragon Rapides 6-8 passenger biplanes. “Currently Iraqi Airways holds 31 aircraft with 11 different fleet types,” said Peer Mohideen, associate director of Ramco Aviation Software (www.ramco.com).

Mohideen knows the specifics of Iraqi Airways’ fleet because of the role Ramco has played in deploying its MRO ERP system at this airline. Before Ramco came in to help, Iraqi Airways was using printed paper reports and Excel spreadsheets to manage their asset tracking, component and compliance, maintenance, and planning programs. As well, “all regulatory reports were prepared manually,” he said.

AMOS Air Algerie jet tail

The operational and safety problems associated with this antiquated approach were so serious, that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) banned Iraqi Airways from operating in European airspace in 2015. This is why this airline turned to Ramco for an M&E ERP solution to help reverse the ban. “The key reason for Iraqi Airways to adopt a maintenance application like ours was to eliminate the hazard of releasing an unairworthy aircraft into service, due to inaccurate data and to get regulatory approvals,” said Mohideen. “Along with the customer, we did micro-level planning, identifying the risks in its existing approach to the maintenance program and developing a mitigation plan. This really helped prepare the way for a smooth and successful implementation.”

Peer Mohideen, Ramco Aviation Software
Peer Mohideen, Ramco Aviation Software

Now that Ramco’s MRO ERP solution is in place, Iraqi Airways’ productivity has been increased in their Stores and Procurement Department, where all parts movements are now being tracked and maintained in the system. The airline’s maintenance planners can also plan ahead for scheduled tasks and stock/assign these tasks accordingly.

engineer at station

In fact, Iraqi Airways’s end-to-end aircraft maintenance process has been completely digitized, Mohideen said, improving its accuracy and levels of compliance while reducing workloads and task completion times. The Ramco solution also provides the airline’s management with the accurate data they need to make better and more timely decisions.

EXSYN Malaysia Airlines wing tip

Although Iraqi Airways has yet to win EASA approval to resume flights over Europe, its implementation of Ramco’s MRO ERP solution is a major step towards this goal. And the airline is happy with the results.

“Ramco is one of the respectable and approved companies of many international airlines, and it has brought about a great and good change in the Iraqi Airways company,” said a quote from Iraqi Airways provided by Ramco for this article. “As for their system, it is a good, understandable and very useful system, especially for maintenance activities in our company. As for the work team, they are qualified, experienced and very cooperative people. They are a very good team.”

Swiss Aviation Software Integrating Air Algérie’s MRO Data

Air Algérie is another national flag carrier; as its name suggests, for the north African nation of Algeria. While this article was being written, the airline’s MRO database was being migrated from a legacy IT management system and associated software programs, to the single AMOS platform made by Swiss Aviation Software (Swiss-AS).

“AMOS offers a wide variety of data import solutions to make the replacement of legacy software safe and easy,” said Remo Suter, who leads Swiss-AS’ data integration solutions team. He performed this interview together with Alexander Belykh, who is responsible for the hands-on data migration into AMOS. “These options integrate seamlessly with state-of-the-art ETL (extract transform load) software, which allows smooth data processing.”

According to Suter, Air Algérie has four main reasons for moving to AMOS. First, “their previous product does not have a very large customer base anymore and development seems to have come to a standstill,” he said. “A second reason is the higher level of integration offered by AMOS: it covers more business processes than the legacy solution did. This means that AMOS can replace the legacy MRO system plus many additional solutions. Third, the legacy solution was mainly dependent on a complex mainframe IT architecture that was difficult to maintain. Finally, integration options with third party solutions and ERP systems were not as easy to execute as they are with AMOS.”

Iraqi Airways
Iraqi Airways

In migrating Air Algérie’s MRO data to AMOS, Swiss-AS were careful to spot and remedy erroneous, redundant, and obsolete information from the airline’s database. “Very often data quality in legacy systems is affected by a high amount of pollution, which has accumulated over the years,” he said. “Therefore, every data migration project is also a good opportunity for data cleansing!”

Swiss-AS also made an effort to coordinate the migration with the airline throughout the process. “Mapping the data properly requires input from the business’ end users, in order to prepare the target system to function as they expected,” said Suter. “It is important to involve all departments in the data mapping workshops,” he added. “Sometimes gaps in legacy systems are filled with additional stand-alone solutions. If customers don’t mention them in the beginning, it can cause some extra work during the project.”

Today, Swiss-AS is in the final stage of the Air Algérie switchover to AMOS. It’s going well: “Data quality in AMOS was high in the last migration iteration we performed and we are confident that the rehearsal and cut-over will be smooth,” Suter said. “However, the last two months in every project are always quite hectic; everyone is preparing for changed processes and a different view on the company’s data.”

Remo Suter closes this article with useful advice for any airline planning to move to a new MRO IT solution. “The higher the data quality is at source, the easier it is to migrate into a new system,” he said. “Make sure you use the opportunity to clean data during the migration process; the user experience on the new system will be a lot better!”