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Blue-sky thinking

Skywise is a new aviation data platform from Airbus, which aims to become the single platform of reference for all major aviation players, improving operational performance and supporting digital transformation, as Mario Pierobon finds
The new platform will provide all users with a single access point to its enriched data by bringing together aviation data from multiple sources across the industry into one cloud-based platform.
Skywise was developed in partnership with Palantir Technologies to enable Airbus, as well as customer airlines, equipment manufacturers and maintenance operators, to tap into vast amounts of aircraft operational and performance data, and to use it to identify areas of improvement. “Skywise can gather and track many thousands of data parameters on aircraft in operation. Use of Skywise-based applications to analyse extensive aircraft data can enable airlines to identify efficiencies, cost savings and enhanced revenue opportunities. Key applications help airlines reduce operational interruptions, maximise aircraft utilisation and flight operations,” says Airbus.
The airline sources include work orders, spares consumption, components data, aircraft/fleet configuration, onboard sensor data and flight 
schedules. Additional data sources, which are traditionally shared with Airbus and hosted only on isolated servers, will also be integrated into the platform to help operators conduct their own analyses, and make decisions based on the full scope of their available data. These shared sources include operational interruption history, parts replacements, post-flight reports, pilot reports, aircraft condition monitoring reports, complete on-board aircraft data, technical documentation, technical requests and service bulletins.
Early adopters One early adopter of Skywise is easyJet. Earlier in 2018, the airline announced a five-year predictive maintenance partnership programme with Airbus to forecast aircraft technical faults before they occur. “The technology relies on Airbus’ Skywise data platform, which allows easyJet’s engineers to intervene early and replace parts before the component’s failure, thereby preventing passengers from experiencing delays and cancellations. The move is part of our aim of eliminating delays caused by technical issues,” says an easyJet spokesperson.
“These have come down from 10 per 1000 flights in 2010, to just over three per 1000 flights today on easyJet’s newest aircraft, and the airline’s long-term aim is to get to zero. Our investment in the Skywise platform can really make a tangible difference for thousands of passengers by harnessing the power of big data to reduce delays. It will transform the way that we maintain and operate our aircraft with the long term aim of eliminating delays due to technical faults.”
Delta Air Lines, whose overall goal is also to improve aircraft operational reliability, is another early adopter of Skywise as it invests in new tools and technology to further eliminate maintenance cancellations and enhance the customer experience. “Delta’s latest investment is a multi-year agreement with Airbus to use the Skywise open-data platform and related predictive maintenance services. As the first major US carrier to invest in the tool, Delta will utilise Skywise on its A320 and A330 aircraft to track and analyse operations and performance data, so it can assess the failure probabilities of aircraft parts to anticipate maintenance tasks before they are needed,” says Gary Hammes, Vice President of Engineering, Quality, Planning and Logistics at Delta Airlines.
“With a success rate of over 95%, our predictive maintenance programme is just another way we are building the world’s most reliable airline and providing a new standard of reliability to customers. It is all about continuous improvement at Delta, and Skywise is just another way we will continue to lead the industry in operational reliability. Adding Skywise to our stable of innovative TechOps tools will support our
teams in their work to improve Delta’s performance by the fractions needed to reach our ultimate goal of 100% reliability.”
The adoption of Skywise by easyJet builds on a successful trial of the platform. “Initially, the focus was on just three specific technical issues on 85 aircraft in easyJet’s fleet. Skywise predicted 31 technical failures, which enabled easyJet to remove components before a fault occurred. This meant that at least 31 flights – which would have carried more than 4,400 passengers – operated on schedule that would otherwise have been disrupted. Had the fault occurred at a remote airport, the delay could have led to an overnight delay and knock on delays on other flights,” the easyJet spokesperson says.
“Developing from this prototype, Skywise can now analyse data from other components on easyJet’s aircraft thanks to the installation of Airbus’ newly released flight operations and maintenance exchanger FOMAX, which can collect 60 times more data than existing systems. The new equipment will be fitted on easyJet’s fleet over the next few years. This will allow easyJet to recover each year around 800Gb of data from up to 24,000 different parameters.” >>

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