How Data Analytics Fuels Smarter Airplane Maintenance

January 23, 2020 in Commercial

Just a few months after signing up for a specialized Boeing maintenance planning program that combines advanced data analytics with Boeing’s engineering expertise, Emirates quickly saw operational benefits – including to the financial bottom line, according to one of the airline’s top leaders.

“Looking at the Boeing Optimized Maintenance Program, we thought that was the perfect opportunity for us to gain access into the data, knowledge, and experience that Boeing can provide, while also making use of our data inputs to help us achieve the next level of excellence,” said Ahmed Safa, Divisional Senior Vice President, Emirates Engineering.

“The success from the Optimized Maintenance Program has almost been immediate,” he said. “You notice from a cash flow perspective, the benefits of less resource and material requirements – and this is evident from day one.”

Emirates, which initiated the program in January, 2019 across their 777 fleet – the largest in the world – is one of more than 24 airline customers of Boeing to implement the Boeing Optimized Maintenance Program.

Boeing’s Optimized Maintenance Program was developed to offer airlines a top level view of fleet-wide maintenance programs, supporting airline objectives for increased airplane availability and more efficient maintenance operations.

“Boeing is uniquely positioned to develop an Optimized Maintenance Program for our customers,” Mike Fleming, vice president of Commercial Services for Boeing Global Services, said of the successful partnership with Emirates.

“We designed the airplanes, and we work closely with all of our airline customers around the globe to support their operations,” he said. “You couple that knowledge with our analytics capability and our analysts with airline operations experience, and that creates a powerful combination for us to be able to come up with an extremely effective maintenance program which is uniquely tailored to each specific operator.”

To help find an airline’s optimum maintenance schedule, for example, the Boeing team analyzes the airline’s in-service maintenance data, business model and operational goals, capabilities, and other key elements, such as upcoming lease returns or airplane retirement plans.

By combining the up-front research, data analytics, and the knowledge base of Boeing analysts and the airline’s maintenance specialists, Boeing recommends proposed changes to the airline’s maintenance program, along with reports highlighting the projected benefits and results once the program is completed.

The program has been applied to several airplane models across the Boeing worldwide fleet, including the 717, Next-Generation 737, 747, 767, 777, and 787, and as of December, 2019, covers 2,519 different Boeing airplanes since its initial introduction to customers.

The results from the program can be substantial. One airline that has implemented an Optimized Maintenance Program with a 777 fleet reported a decrease in maintenance burden and an increase in airplane availability resulting in a projected benefit of hundreds of millions of dollars over a 10-year timeframe.

“When we look at the Optimized Maintenance Program, and we consider where we are in on-time performance and our cost efficiency, we could not ask for a better formula to currently support our business objectives at Emirates,” Safa said.

Fleming said Boeing and Emirates will continue to work together to find new ways to uncover efficiency improvements in maintenance operations, and noted that Boeing is ready to help other airlines achieve similar results in their maintenance programs.

“We are in it for the long haul with our customers,” he said.

For more information about the Boeing Optimized Maintenance Program, contact us.