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V1.6 • SUMMER 2012
LESS PAPER:MORE DATA
Virgin leverages the value of electronic documents
New players and new business models for MRO
Common standards and uniform processes
QANTAS SUCCESS STORY
Transforming their MRO Software for the next generation
10 | WHITE PAPER: INFOTRUST | AIRCRAFT IT MRO | SUMMER 2012
MRO Business Networks need MRO IT Networks
Michael Wm. Denis, Vice President, Customer Engagement, InfoTrust Group explains how new technologies are transforming old business models
and increasing aircraft availability at lower total lifecycle costs.
On March 5, 2012, Pemco World Air Services filed for bankruptcy protection.
Outside of the United States, this event probably went unnoticed but, over the past
two years, several North American MROs have filed for bankruptcy. However, when, two weeks
later, Aveos Fleet Performance Inc. (previously Air Canada Technical Services — ACTS) filed
for bankruptcy protection under Canadian law, the aviation maintenance industry took note.
The following day Aveos filed for liquidation, having consistently been one of the top-ten
airframe, engine and component MROs in the world.
Even as these and other independent third party MROs teeter on the edge of existence,
original equipment manufacturer (OEM) MRO networks are chalking up multiple deals with
revenues and profits from after sale services surpassing manufacturing returns. Also, while
major airline affiliated MROs and their networks feel some pain from fleet reductions and
airline failures, they continue to be profitable and are, in some regions, rapidly expanding.
So, what is the future of aviation MRO and is there a discernible trend away from
independent MROs? What business models are accelerating within the industry; what are
MRO Networks, how critical is it to be a part of one and what enabling technologies are
currently required to drive growth, revenue, partnership collaboration and profits?
The first Generation MRO Networks were about airframe cost collaboration. In the late
1960s, two consortia of European airlines created maintenance and supply chain collaboration
groups. KSSU (KLM, Scandinavian SAS, Swissair and UTA) and ATLAS (Air France, Alitalia,
Lufthansa, Iberia and Sabena) were not explicitly formed to conduct maintenance for profit
but were collaborations focused on work allocation and cost sharing for the technical and
economic management of, then new, Boeing 747 and Douglas DC10 aircraft.
Unlike their large US counterparts, European carriers didn’t then have the economies of scale
to unilaterally support these new wide body aircraft. These first MRO networks were born
from the need to share workload and create shared services ‘centers of excellence’. But what
some at the time may have viewed as a disadvantage, in fact, created a skill in Europe that
North American airlines and MROs didn’t develop until this decade and, even today, not to the
same level of maturity… the capability to efficiently mass collaborate.
These first generation MRO Networks continue to this day in Lufthansa Technik LHT, Air
France Industries / KLM E&M, TAM and SRT. In the case of first generation airline affiliated
MRO Networks, the intent remains unchanged, to share certain workload with entities within
the network to reduce costs.
Second Generation MRO Networks — MRO Profit Centers
The LHT Joint Venture network is considered by many to be the most advanced of this style of
business model. LHT cannot efficiently perform labor intensive work in-house so, by developing
partnerships and joint ventures, it trades the LHT brand, outsourcing low margin, labor intensive
work to less mature airlines and MROs and, in exchange, bringing in high margin engine
and component work. LH Group gets reduced maintenance cost for the airline and increased
high margin maintenance revenue. Over time, LHT has developed several bundled services
packages branded ‘Total (name of service) Services’: ‘Total Technical… ‘Total Engine… ‘Total
Component… Services’. (See figures 1 and 2 for global reach of major MRO Networks).
“…what some at the time may have viewed as a disadvantage, in fact, created a
skill in Europe that North American airlines and MROs didn’t develop until this
decade and, even today, not to the same level of maturity… the capability to
efficiently mass collaborate”
SUMMER 2012 | AIRCRAFT IT MRO | WHITE PAPER: INFOTRUST | 11
Third Generation MRO Networks — Bundled
Lifecycle Asset Management
The next generation of MRO networks was developed by engine OEMs.
Identifying the trend of intermediation within the engine OEM market,
Rolls-Royce developed ‘Power by the Hour’ (PBH), a bundled services
market offering users a total lifecycle cost per flying hour (CPFH) business
By bundling financing with lifecycle sustainment of the asset, Rolls-
Royce developed the ability to compete more effectively for engine sales
and protect after-sale repair, service and parts revenue. It addressed the
intermediation the engine OEMs were seeing by airframe OEMs, PMA
vendors and large airline affiliated MROs. But to make this performance-
based service lifecycle business model work, Rolls Royce and, eventually,
all the engine OEMs, had to develop physical MRO networks with new
IT capabilities such as in-service condition monitoring, diagnostics,
prognostics and reliability analysis.
With a CPFH contract, the OEM finances the engine and ongoing
maintenance with all the backend engineering and technical document
management. The arrangement also blocks out non-OEM parts for the
engines. However, prime vendors had to consider two options to make
their MRO networks successful: either set up engine MRO shops around
the world or enter into multiple OEM-MRO partnerships. In most cases,
the partnership and joint venture approach won out.
So the third-generation MRO networks were started by engine OEMs
changing their business model and added significant technology capabilities
in the area of in-service condition monitoring, diagnostics, prognostics
and asset health management; leading to increased asset reliability and
availability at reduced lifecycle costs. For the engine OEMs, this part of
their business now represents over fifty percent of revenues and eighty
percent of profits.
The late 1990’s also saw the advent of the latest generation of networks
based on airline MRO operations. For instance, the Swire group of Hong
Kong which owns the majority of Cathay Pacific Airways and Hong Kong
Dragon, operates Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company (HAECO),
one of the largest aircraft engineering companies in Asia, and has
assembled a network of MRO companies in China.
In the airframe market, this third wave of MRO networks are an airline
affiliated full service evolution of the engine OEMs business model. What is
new is the advent of sovereign fund backed MRO networks in the Middle
East and Asia Pacific who are adding financing through sale lease-back
arrangements combined with airframe total solutions.
This network model is not unfamiliar to Asia Pacific businesses. Chaebol
refers to a South Korean form of business conglomerate owning numerous
international enterprises. The term is often used in a context similar to that
of the English word ‘conglomerate’. In Japan, a keiretsu is a set of companies
with interlocking business relationships and shareholdings; a type of business
group. The keiretsu maintained dominance over the Japanese economy
for the latter half of the twentieth century. Member companies own small
portions of shares in each other’s companies, centered on a core bank; this
system helps protect company managements from stock market fluctuations
and takeover attempts, thus enabling long-term planning and investments in
research, development and innovation. Today it is still a key element of the
automotive and aerospace industries in Japan.
Evolving MRO network business models
necessitated new information technologies
As large airline affiliated MRO networks and sovereign fund aviation
networks have acquired airlines and MRO’s, a patchwork of dissimilar
functional technologies have resulted in operational inefficiencies. OEM
MRO networks are far more advanced with respect to data compliance
and interoperability and may form the platform from which airlines and
independent MRO networks build their intercompany solutions.
Where MRO networks that grew out of airlines are constrained by current
capabilities and technology, OEMs had no such constraint and thus enjoyed
the ability to start with a whiteboard when planning for the future of
aviation maintenance. So, for example, Boeing’s GoldCare network has been
able to perfect processes and technology in parallel to the development of
new generation aircraft.
As OEMs increasingly enter the after-sale service market, it required them
to develop capabilities not inherent in manufacturing. Product Lifecycle
Management (PLM) is the manufacturer’s perspective and capability set
which is considerably different from the operator and maintainer’s Service
Lifecycle Management (SLM) capability set. The common thread enabling
PLM and SLM is configuration management, which is also the core
function of airworthiness.
12 | WHITE PAPER: INFOTRUST | AIRCRAFT IT MRO | SUMMER 2012
The definition of airworthiness at its most basic level is ‘conformance to type certificate’ and ‘safe to operate’.
The first is compliance to type design allowable structure and the second is compliance to type design allowable
function. Sometimes we forget the basics of engineering such as what constitutes a part and part number. Again,
at its most basic level a part number rolls when form, fit or function changes. Form and fit apply to structural
configuration and function applies to functional specifications.
With this in mind, if you are in the product lifecycle business and, for whatever reason, decide to get into the
service lifecycle business, you have no choice but to develop in-service monitoring, forecasting and maintenance
RCM, CBM, and AHM (reliability centered maintenance, condition based maintenance, aircraft health
management) are all advanced capabilities of configuration management across structural and functional
Structural configuration management is the tracking and analysis of the structure of a component assembly
and there are two dimensions to structural configuration; one being the logical, as to how the structure performs
according to airworthiness; the other being the physical ‘as operated’ and ‘as maintained’ dimension of the
Functional configuration management is the tracking and analysis of the functional design of the component
assembly which also has both a logical ‘as designed’ and physical ‘as operated’ dimension.
What we are doing with reliability centered maintenance, condition based maintenance, diagnostics, prognostics,
etc… all the advanced capabilities, is comparing and analyzing the logical to the physical — to determine how
these two things are matching up. The reliability of the maintenance program and the reliability of the engineered
part as operated focuses on improving the physical functional configuration to match the ‘as designed’ logical
functional configuration given a certain structural configuration.
If we operated assets in a vacuum or laboratory, in the exact same place and in the exact same way on every
occasion, then this is all we would have to track; but we don’t. We operate aircraft in Europe, in deserts, in the tropics
and in the Arctic. Some airlines operate aircraft from short take-off and landing airports, some from long; some
airlines have longer stage links, some shorter; individual pilots will operate aircraft in slightly different ways. These
differences affect the utilization, reliability and maintainability of components and assemblies in the aircraft in total.
Multi-dimensional is the ability to differentiate the structural and functional, the logical and physical across
multiple effectiveness derivatives.
So manufacturers who have started getting into the service lifecycle management business have had to develop
tools that, at their core, could manage the multiple dimensions of configuration in order that they can optimize
their revenue by minimizing repairs, service parts and distribution across multi-echelon supply chains and repair
networks; and this is becoming the key requirement differentiator for maintenance technology and the key enabler
for advanced capabilities such as diagnostics, prognostics and autonomics.
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Multi-Dimensional Configuration Management (MDCM) is a
maintenance engineering capability that feeds Advanced Planning &
Scheduling (APS) tools with requisite data. There are, in fact, multiple
types of APS tools, such as ERP-based (Enterprise Resource Planning-
based) capacity resource planning tools, MRO packaging & scheduling
optimization tools, theory of Constraints-based finite capacity scheduling
tools as well as transportation scheduling and routing tools. For clarity this
article addresses service parts planning and allocation APS tools.
Readiness Based Sparing (RBS) is the military term for Service Parts
Optimization (SPO) for performance based contracting — priced by the
hour (PBH), performance based logistics (PBL) and cost per flying hour
(CPFH) — and a set of tools using METRIC algorithms. Again, RBS or
SPO is nothing new, the US Department of Defense (DoD) has been
building algorithm based forecasting tools since the 1970s and they have
been proven in the laboratory as one of the most accurate service parts
forecasting and allocation technique for decades. In practice, however, RBS
has not delivered the same results in real world use, primarily because the
algorithms are extremely data sensitive — in terms of the established IT
adage: ‘Garbage In/Garbage Out’. MDCM solves this problem by managing
both functional and structural configuration of the physical asset across
multiple fields of effectiveness. RBS and MDCM are not capabilities found
in any ERP software and thus both capabilities require a composite best
of breed (BoB) system or systems solution in order to optimally realize
PBL and Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) financial and operational
value improvements. Aviation SLM represents a potential stepwise function
increase in productivity, maintenance, reliability, logistics effectiveness and
total system cost efficiency.
Autonomic Logistics represents quantum advancement in the sustainment
of aircraft. Under the PBL contract Lockheed has proposed for the multi-
national F35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), service lifecycle costs are forecast
to be reduced by 56%. But to attain this aircraft availability and lifecycle
cost reduction, Lockheed has had to build an in-service performance
monitoring capability which they call the Autonomic Logistics Information
Delta aimed to cut its maintenance cost 51% or more using predictive
analytics. In 2001, looking to reduce the $1 billion in spares inventory
it carries, Delta Air Lines implemented Sevigistics Xelus inventory
management application. Delta cut its maintenance spares expense by
11% in 2002 from $801 million to $711 million, saving $90 million.
Delta also implemented SmartSignal condition monitoring and predictive
maintenance tool to prevent costly engine failures altogether, weeks before
The problem with standards is everybody has one
Standards over the past several decades have grown up in different parts of
the various aviation industries, aerospace, commercial air transport and the
military. As such, the functions and processes generated different standards
developed by different industry associations and governments. Given the
memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreements between Airlines for
America (A4A), Administrator for International Aviation (AIA) and the
Aerospace & Defence Association of Europe (ASD) as well as the US DoD
and NATO, the future appears to be set on select ISO 10303 and 13374
standards and the ASD SX000i family of standards.
Now, the challenge isn’t what to standardize on, it is when to incorporate
those standards, the cost of conversion and senior management
commitment to comply.
For new aircraft, the decision is easy. Backward compatibility for older
aircraft is another story. Standards adoption is challenged by the duality
of the value proposition of individual actors’ internal costs of compliance
versus the ecosystem opportunity. Obviously, if any specific company didn’t
have to individually bear the burden of conversion, adoption would be
faster and relatively easy.
There are several industry trends that are accelerating standards adoption,
namely; new generation aircraft, asset lifecycle management systems,
increased regulatory oversight and the advent of new MRO network
Regulatory pressures and opportunities support
standards if regulatory bodies would simply be decisive
and clear. The majority of regulatory enforcement
action in maintenance is directly related to compliance
to technical content and company procedures. Airlines
and MROs both benefit from improved content
standardization and interoperability.
On the other hand, regulators refusal to adequately
define Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA)
exacerbate the challenge of airlines getting standards
based data from OEMs and to provide configuration
specific repair procedures to third party maintenance
European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) Notice of
Proposed Amendment (NPA) for a Part M Subpart J
independent Continuing Airworthiness Management
Organisation (CAMO), is another driving force for
data and content standardization as the new CAMO
business model is predicated on efficiently managing
multiple airworthiness programs, thus using dissimilar
and mostly non-compliant airline technologies will no
longer be an option. What works inside the four walls
of an airline may not work across the ecosystem.
OEMs are a mixed bag of both helping
and hurting industry data and
New generation aircraft are a step change improvement
in engineering and maintenance program planning
and scheduling due to tightly integrated on-board
and near-board condition monitoring, diagnostics,
prognostics and aircraft health management. The
value proposition is realized through increased aircraft
availability via dynamic maintenance package phasing
and autonomic logistics. OEM to airline to aircraft to
MRO data networks only work with standardized data
What’s also new is that content isn’t just for human
consumption anymore. Traditionally technical
document management is focused on human
consumption of data — an engineer reading and
writing a service bulletin generated EO (Engineering
Order) or a mechanic reading a task card. Technology
consumption of content is now the driving force
for standards consolidation and modernization.
S1000D is the core standard facilitating Integrated
Electronic Technical Manuals, Central Maintenance
Computers and off board AHM/PHM and maintenance
information systems. The cost of data conversion is
more than compensated by maintenance and supply
chain savings, reliability and aircraft revenue generating
While OEMs ‘eEnablement’ of aircraft lifecycle
management is valuable, their pursuit of capturing
larger pieces of the after sale services market and
profits, are leading to what many would consider
monopolistic actions. With respect to data, OEMs are
using control of technical intellectual property (IP)
via access to technical manuals and repair procedures
as well as the form of such content — pdf versus Air
Transport Association (ATA) or ASD compliant XML.
It behooves airlines to look outside the four walls of
their company to the entire ecosystem within which
they actually function.
Leasing companies may be best
positioned to enforce standards.
The Aviation Working Group commissioned Seabury
Aviation to conduct a study on the economic
impact assessment of dissimilar technical regulatory
requirements impacting cross-border transfer of aircraft.
This study estimated that the dissimilar regulatory
requirements and content-data harmonization resulted
in $7 billion of cost to the leasing industry over the
past 20 years. Direct costs accounted for $5 billion or
68.5% and aircraft downtime losses accounted for $2.3
billion or 31.5%. The study further identified that 93%
of these costs were not material safety discrepancies;
rather, 58% had similar intended safety objectives, 20%
were duplication and 15% were non-safety related.
At the same time the IATA maintenance cost task
force is working on standardizing aircraft and engine
lease contracts and maintenance reserves. Lease
contracts and maintenance reserves are getting even
more complex and nonstandard as new generation
aircraft come with maintenance programs that can be
dynamically packaged and phased. Dynamic packaging
is great for aircraft operational availability but is causing
challenges for lessors in forecasting and managing
But it is lessors that are in a unique position to
enforce data harmonization through their contracting
mechanisms. Lessors can easily add data and content
standards to aircraft and engine leases and component
sell/lease-back contracts. In doing so, they can feed
their own asset management and compliance tools, as
well as enforce aviation industry standards.
And that brings us back to the organizations with
the greatest motivation to adopt new interoperability
standards; bank and sovereign funded MRO Networks
who also perform asset leasing. They benefit at the
front end by multiple customer integration and at the
back end by improving B2B efficiency.
The promise of MRO Networks benefits
everyone in the aviation ecosystem
The ability to travel from one country to another and
use a credit card, ATM card, cell phone, iPad or laptop
WiFi is simple and seamless.
The ability to move an aircraft from one regulatory
geography to another and the ability to transfer aircraft
records, tech manuals, task cards or MPD from one
company to another somehow requires the use of paper
or pdf and back flips by IT departments. COOs and
business units should be incensed, as should CFOs.
The vision of the promised land of seamless MRO
B2B interoperability between OEMs’ products and
airlines’ services across the various MRO Networks
has been on the drawing board for well over a
decade. We have made significant progress through
the influence and edicts of the US DoD and NATO
mandating certain ASD standards and the technological
advancements of new aircraft systems.
MRO business networks need industry standard MRO
IT networks. The problem isn’t that the technology
and standards haven’t been developed that provide
considerable operational and financial benefits to all of
the participants in the ecosystem. Rather, the challenge
we face today is one of execution and collaboration.
Business models and technology have evolved to the
point that traditional methods simply can no longer
keep up. And while the costs of not implementing
new standards based technology today may pale in
comparison to more pressing issues such as fuel and
labour costs, the failure to act slowly and steadily
erodes the infrastructure that makes the entire
ecosystem and individual businesses run.
The challenge is also one of visibility for senior
executives that haven’t been presented with the value
potential. Why buy smart aircraft and plug them into
a dumb maintenance management system? It’s just one
more death by a thousand cuts.
At the end of the day, the consequences of inaction
get passed along to aircraft owners and operators and
ultimately to their end consumers — passengers. n
SUMMER 2012 | AIRCRAFT IT MRO | WHITE PAPER: INFOTRUST | 15
Vice President, Customer Engagement, INFOTRUST
Michael leads ITG’s customer
relationship development and
consulting services practice.
With 24 years’ experience in the
aviation, aerospace and defense
industries, he has held numerous
positions of responsibility across diverse functions
including corporate strategy, market analysis,
scenario planning, mergers and acquisitions, IT,
performance metrics and process reengineering.
His technology experience includes engineering,
maintenance and supply chain management,
autonomics and aircraft health management,
flight operations systems and enterprise resource
planning. Most recently, he has focused on
software-as-a-service (SaaS) and business process
outsourcing (BPO) models that optimize the
profitability of capital intensive, cash flow sensitive
Michael Denis is an established global thought
leader in the area of aircraft lifecycle sustainment.
He has published multiple articles on aligning
business strategy to operations execution
through enabling information technologies and
is frequently called upon to present at aviation
Prior to joining InfoTrust Group, he was a
principal at several aviation consultancies, a
Fortune 100 consultancy and a veteran of the U.S.
Navy, where he served as a gas turbines engineer.
He holds a bachelor’s Nuclear Engineering from
the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master’s
Decision Science from the J. Mack Robinson
College of Business at Georgia State University.
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“…it is lessors that are in a unique position to enforce data harmonization through
their contracting mechanisms. Lessors can easily add data and content standards to
aircraft and engine leases and component sell/lease-back contracts…”
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How I see IT
Standards are great for aircraft records,
unless there’s more than one of them…
and they’re incompatible. Michael Denis
On 26 July, GECAS and AerData announced their intent toestablish an industry standard aircraft records platform. http://www.aerdata.com/downloads/Press%20Release%20AerData%20GECAS.pdf So, what is this all about? And is it good or bad forthe aviation and aerospace industries?
Last year, Seabury conducted a study for the AviationWorking Group (AWG) which identified the causes andquantified the "Economic Impact of Dissimilar Technical[Regulatory] Requirements on the Transferability ofAircraft and Engines". http://www.awg.aero/projects/aircrafttechnicalrequirementsimpactingtransferability/ Bottom line= $7 Billion USD over the past twenty years and growing.The question is; who's paying this bill? At the end of the day (orend of the value chain) either passengers or the shareholders ofoperators (airlines / cargo) are footing this bill. Lessors see theproblem first hand, as do operators when they move aircraft on/off lease. And lessors do absorb some of the cost, but in theend, lessors and financiers embed this cost of doing inefficientbusiness into their lease rates whenever possible.
Richard Poutier, SVP Technical, ILFC brought this issue to theforefront in the airline, OEM and MRO community during theExecutive Council session Aviation Week before the MRO IT eventlast October.
Anton Tams, SVP Technical at GECAS, presented his vision of thefuture at the Aviation Week MRO Americas conference in Aprilwhere he described the "CarFax" of aircraft assets.
ILFC and GECAS, together with AerCap and DVB (joint ownersof AerData) definitely have the industry gravitas to significantlymove (if not force) the leasing / financing industry towardstandardization (technological and data) for aircraft androtables records management. But will this address the totalindustry problem?
Chris Markou, Director Economics, IATA, and Tiymor Kalimat,Manager Technical Procurement at Royal Jordanian Airlines, andChairman IATA maintenance cost Task Force are leading theairline initiative around standardization of lease contracts and
maintenance reserves processing, which includes maintenance andregulatory documentation standardization.
Jon Andresen, President, Aviation Technology Solutions, has beena driving force within the A4A (ATA) SPEC2000 and iSPEC2200programs and is a staunch advocate of "not reinventing thewheel".
Most OEMs and larger more advanced airlines know the futureof standardization resides in the ASD family of standards calledSX000i, which for data standards includes the S1000D schema.The problem isn't that we don't have standards; the problemis that we don't execute what we promise. The Boeing 787 wassupposed to be the first all up S1000D aircraft - but much ofthe content is only available in SGML and pdf. Rolls-Royceand Airbus have adopted S1000D v4.x for the A350 while someother major aircraft OEMs continue to develop proprietarycustomizations of v3. While this may enhance their total caresuite of products and services - it's the rest of the industry thatwill pay the price for non-standardization.
GECAS leading the way where no one else was addressing theproblem is better than no actions. By collaborating with AerCap,DVB and ILFC, the GECAS / AerData team have a significantmarket share of leased aircraft to make an 'industry standard'solution stick.
The solution AerData is bringing, STREAM, is a simplisticelectronic records capture and archiving solution that probablydoes address the regulatory transferability problem and probablydoes not address the larger problem set of the aviation servicelifecycle ecosystem.
But, if the solution is not open, extensible, does not use astandard n-tiered / SOA technical architecture or introducesproprietary data standards outside of ATA SPEC2000 or ASDSX000i, then the fear of OEMs and lessors bullying the industryand competitors will turn true. In this case, the hundreds ofmillions per year that the industry wastes will not be addressed.At least that's the way I see it.
"At the end of the day (or end of the
value chain) either passengers or the
shareholders of operators (airlines /
cargo) are footing this bill"