Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to chair a panel discussion on mobility at Aviation Week’s MRO Middle East Conference in Dubai. As the weather in early February is pretty nasty in England this time of year, I leapt at the chance.
The dazzling skyline of Dubai was matched by the bright winter sunshine and comfortably warm temperatures on the grounds of the Dubai World Trade Centre. Inside the conference hall, the air conditioning was set to “harsh” and the atmosphere was equally business like. On my panel I was delighted to host delegates from Emirates Airlines, Gulf Air, Boeing and SITA, so a great mix of operators, an OEM and a vendor.
Our colleagues in Flight Operations have reaped the benefits of recent advances in mobility for their enterprise content since the first incarnation of Apple’s iPad in 2010. Early adopters were able to embrace consumer technology thanks to business cases built on weight saving advantages that devices like the iPad offered over reams of paper being lugged on board.
Hundreds of thousands of pilots can now be seen posing around airport terminals with their fancy new tablets saving their employers mega-bucks each year.
Now engineers with pilot envy want in on the mobility act, too.
According to Emirates and Gulf Air, the desire is certainly there, the technology is becoming more accessible, the business cases are being made on the basis of efficiencies through removing paper from MRO processes, but we are still a little way off realizing the mobility benefits in aerospace engineering.
Why is this?
I posed the question directly to the panelists. “Who are posing the greatest barriers to mobility in MRO? Is it the regulator, the business, or the lessors?”
Unanimously, Emirates, Gulf Air and even the delegates from FlyDubai in the audience stated confidently and without hesitation “the lessors”.
The representative from Emirates went on to explain that the business and the regulators are firmly behind initiatives to improve efficiencies through mobility. The regulators are switched on by the efforts of the airlines to modernize their procedures and, in turn, promote safety and compliance through efficiencies.
However, the lessors do not have a universally accepted means to receive and accept electronic data during the course of an aircraft lease, nor do they have the ability to process that data and pass it on to the new lessor at the end of an aircraft lease.
It seems that despite efforts through a number of airline lessees, and even some lessors themselves, the universal acceptance of electronic records are some ways off.
Despite having to reprint all records to paper at the end of an aircraft lease, the efficiencies realized through eliminating paper at the point of maintenance are still enough to justify mobility initiatives, and the airlines of the Middle East are pressing on regardless.
Check back to our blog soon to find out how Flatirons Solutions and the TechSight/X suite of products are in the vanguard of this drive towards mobility and the paperless airline.