AHM -- a Better 'HMO' for Airliners
Time is money in any business, but especially
in the aviation industry. At an airline, the dollars can add up
quickly when a $100-million airplane unexpectedly sits idle, even
for a short period of time. With Airplane Health Management
-– a new service provided by Boeing Commercial Aviation
Services -– the health of an airplane is monitored in flight
and information relayed in real time to airline personnel on the
ground. When an airplane arrives at the gate, maintenance crews are
ready to make any needed repairs quickly.
AHM monitors the health of an airplane in flight and relays that
information in real time from the air to the ground. When the
airplane arrives at the gate, maintenance crews are ready to make
any needed repairs quickly. "With Airplane Health Management,
airlines will be able to identify problems long before an airplane
lands," said Lou Mancini, vice president of Maintenance Services in
Boeing Commercial Aviation Services. "Airline personnel will have
time to review maintenance procedures, assemble necessary parts and
be waiting for the airplane when it arrives."
The new service also allows airlines to realize efficiencies in
their operations and provide a superior experience for their
passengers, Mancini added.
How AHM works:
Airplane Health Management collects data from the airplane in
real-time. The primary source of the data is the airplane central
maintenance computer or condition monitoring system. AHM also can
collect electronic logbook data from the new Electronic Flight Bag
(which Boeing is introducing on the 777-300ER).
Like racecar telemetry...
continually integrates incoming data from each airplane with basic
model design data, in-service experiences reported by airplane
operators and industry-wide fleet-performance data for that
airplane model. "The original equipment manufacturer is
best-positioned to offer such comprehensive analysis," Mancini
said. "We can look across a database wider than that of any
If there is a problem with a particular airplane in flight, AHM
notifies airline personnel via the Internet or by pager. The
notification directs the airline to the Boeing business-to-business
Web portal (MyBoeingFleet.com), for flight-specific information
that they can use to make informed maintenance decisions.
In addition to diagnosing an airplane problem in flight, AHM
also can be used to predict when parts might fail, so that they can
be replaced or repaired during a regularly scheduled maintenance
check as a preventive measure, rather than at an inconvenient time
or place when a part fails unexpectedly.
"Basically, we’re providing a single source of information
from which airlines can make maintenance decisions and identify
trends to support long-term fleet reliability programs," Mancini
said. "AHM is both a diagnostic and a prognostic tool."
Another feature of AHM is that it’s not limited to just
Boeing airplanes. According to Mancini, "We can provide portions of
this service for other commercial airplanes, not just our own."
In development now, with Air France, American
Throughout the year, Boeing will be piloting the
Airplane Health Management service to ensure availability to
airlines in first-quarter 2004. In April, Boeing selected Air
France and American Airlines to test the AHM service. A third
development partner from the Asia-Pacific region will be announced
later this year. The development partners already have helped
define the "look and feel" of the AHM tool, and beginning in
third-quarter 2003 they will help refine the exact functionality of
the service. "These airlines bring ‘real life’ to our
product-development efforts," said Mancini. "Their input will be
invaluable as we test our AHM service and strive to make it the
best it can be for our airline customers."
Boeing selected the development partners based on the
intellectual equity that they bring to the development process.
Factors included geographic location, fleet size and a willingness
to be involved in product development.
[Thanks to Jill Langer, The Boeing Company --ed.]