Four Technologies That Will Underpin the Transformation of The Next Generation of Aircraft MRO Companies

The aircraft MRO sector was estimated in 2020 at US$ 49.80 billion and is expected to reach 68.35 billion eight years afterward —  a growth forecast of 4.04 percent CAGR.

As competition rises globally, implementing digital technologies into their organizational fabric has become a high priority for MRO companies.  

In this blog post, we enumerate the digital technologies that can significantly impact all areas of the supply chain for aircraft operations, manufacturing, and traffic management.

Additive Manufacturing 

Additive manufacturing — the use of CAD software or 3D object scanners to create 3D printed goods — can have a profound impact on inventory. This technology can enable the seamless printing of replacement parts, helping reduce inventory costs for maintenance providers. While MRO providers are already implementing additive manufacturing for developing minor cabin components, they have yet to explore its use for significant structural components, such as Lufthansa Technik’s and Air France’s attempts to apply this to metal printing. 

The advantage of implementing additive manufacturing is that when new specifications need to be incorporated into new products, they can be input seamlessly during the next printing. This will help reduce costs and increase the probability of having available parts, thus reshaping the supply chain of aircraft MRO in the long term. Add to this the benefits of planning and predictive capabilities, and the industry is likely to reach new heights — ensuring a steady and reliable supply chain with little to no interruptions.

Robotics, Drones, and Augmented Reality

Drones and robotics are often spoken in the same light in the aircraft MRO sector — and are both hot topic technologies among industry thought leaders. Remote automated plane inspection and dissemination (RAPID) systems are already being used by EasyJet and Thomas Cook Airlines for their remote plane inspection. While progress is being made toward their actual implementation, the industry is still skeptical about the application of such technologies in consideration of the probable risks and inefficiencies they would bring in line with maintenance work. 

Augmented reality, meanwhile, is a game-changing technology ever since Google Glass was introduced back in 2013. The MRO industry has looked into the benefits of AR in MRO training, such as in the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre’s MRO training course, where trainees walk around a scaled aircraft 3D model wearing Microsoft HoloLens AR goggles while receiving instructions and collaborating with each other.

Analytics, AI, and Machine Learning

Data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning are another breakthrough in computing — and their usage has been proven beneficial for aircraft MRO companies. Robotics, drones, augmented reality, and even additive manufacturing are all tied to how well machines learn in performing repetitive tasks — and adjusting to demands as needed — which will afford the organization more time to focus on strategy and overall operations. Developments in data collection and analysis through machine learning and AI will lead to data-powered advancements that can help machines recognize patterns and predict vulnerabilities.

Pulling data from maintenance logs and sensors in aircraft, for example, can help management think of improvements in processes, giving rise to predictive maintenance. Predictive maintenance helps aircraft MRO companies in anticipating component failures and reducing unexpected maintenance. 

Workforce and Production Control Technologies

Workforce management is just as important as the efficient handling of material resources. AI-powered tools can help MRO companies forecast manpower needs, and then adjust them accordingly. Technologies that handle production management help make heavy maintenance much easier, offering functions like time tracking, material tooling, and even aircraft log monitoring. Some tools even allow pilots to log aircraft problems mid-flight, letting engineers at the ground prepare early and do the repairs much faster.

Continuously Evolving MRO

Digital platforms are the future for MRO and countless other industries, and it is best to rely on an advanced MRO software suite that combines many powerful functionalities — so you can implement advanced technologies with ease and accuracy. 

With EmpowerMX, you get access to various Cloud-based and mobile solutions that will help you optimize your operations and leverage your technology investments to their full potential. Learn more at www.empowermx.com.