In late May, Airbus announced Delta as the launch customer for its brand new “Prognostics and Risk Management” tool created jointly with IBM and is aimed at reducing aircraft downtime caused by mechanical delays. The program is purely web-based and is a part of Airbus/IBM’s Smarter Fleet big data solutions suite.

This tool will help aid Delta and other airlines in scheduling maintenance for aircraft, adding another level of predictability to the cat and mouse game known as operational efficiency. By being able to reasonably predict and schedule when aircraft need to be serviced, airlines will hopefully be able to improve across the board. This means having aircraft available, reducing mechanical delays, and realizing improved cost savings.

Jim Jackson, Manager of Predictive Maintenance Engineering at Delta:

“With Prognostics and Risk Management, we will leverage the strong expertise of Airbus’ design office to provide us with the most effective way to monitor our aircraft systems. Prognostic alerting will allow our Engineering and Maintenance teams to detect in advance failures on our components and systems to mitigate possible operational interruptions. PRM will also help us maximise our A330 aircraft turnaround and systems’ reliability and efficiency and move maintenance events from unscheduled to scheduled.”

As of right now, the only aircraft this program will be available for is the A330, with expansions eventually coming to the A320, A350, and A380 fleets.

Bottom Line

Big data is huge (pun maybe intended). Being able to process ridiculous amounts of data for the sole purpose of improving efficiency, effectiveness, and their bottom line will be a massive win for Delta and other customers who use this service.

The fact that this software will allow airlines to schedule maintenance way in advance will hopefully help avoid or curtail downtime issues, meaning less delays for all of us – yay! This is essentially automating aircraft maintenance (aside from the actual labor, obviously).

Bring on the data!