It’s difficult to truly measure the devastation the pandemic caused the aviation industry. To put it into numbers, in 2020 the estimated impact COVID had on airlines was around a $370 billion revenue loss versus 2019. By early 2020, international flights had fallen by nearly 80%. Whilst some airlines shifted operations to focus on cargo and charter flights, 16,000 passenger jets were grounded, which represents about two-thirds of the global fleet.
However, airlines are still under major financial pressures two years on. Many planes were forced to decommission to avoid extensive maintenance costs when there were no revenue streams, alongside the majority of planes going into long-term storage. As flights are taking off again and there is renewed passenger demand, there are critical procedures that need to be followed to ensure the airworthiness of an aeroplane after being grounded. Airlines are now, where possible, are trying to bring their old fleet back into operation, rather than purchasing new planes as an interim method, whilst their capital is still low.
Protecting Wide-Body Fleet
During the pandemic, planes were placed in either short-term or long-term storage. Even whilst in storage, they required regular maintenance and services. Some were kept ready for immediate use, whereas others were grounded for months on end. To maintain and secure this multibillion-dollar fleet, airlines followed a comprehensive aircraft parking and reactivation programme, that strictly follows manufacturers' guidelines and maintenance manuals. Deterioration of an aircraft structure, surface, systems, and components can occur if preservation procedures aren’t followed correctly.
An engineering team would complete periodic checks at 7-15 and 30-day intervals, which includes walk-around inspections, to ensure things like: covers haven’t slipped and there isn’t any damage or leaks. Examples of more complex checks include: removing the covers and testing aircraft and flight control systems, idling engines, and checking the engine bleed air.
What Does it Take to Bring a Plane Back to Service?
It’s a complex process, that involves a huge amount more than collecting the jet and flying it to the airline’s hub. Due to inactivity and reduced regular maintenance checks during storage, a large list of problems could occur.
The increased integration and complexity of software and hardware in aircraft systems means that after extended downtime, airworthiness, the operational status of aircraft systems and aeroplane configurations must be verified before the initial flight.
Airbus and Boeing have a set standard reactivation programme which must be followed to bring a plane back to service after long-term storage. This involves draining moisture and remaining fluids, inspecting the engine, APU and tires, lubricating all bearings and putting back the avionics which, most likely, would have been removed.
Storing Inspection Data
Inspections from not only aircraft parking and reactivations, but the continual inspection through service would need to be conducted globally to keep planes running and their air trustworthiness viable. These inspections are conducted by a large workforce of engineers, who utilise different inspection techniques and collect extensive quantities and varying amounts of data.
At JetSoft our solutions provide a centralised system for the service centres to aggregate and manage inspection data to aid the aviation workforce. Whilst inspections are needed to meet safety requirements and audits, the data collected creates an opportunity to understand the operational health of aircraft in more detail.
Successful asset management and inspections compromise of three vital areas:
- Asset overview and communication
Paper and PDF reports offer reduced traceability of previous inspections, which makes it difficult to assess the health of assets. Gaining visualisation and communication across asset conditions is critical to operational integrity and to minimise the risk of commercial impacts. Our OverSeer solution enables you to capture data digitally in a central database.
- Inspection workflow management
Jetsoft’s solutions can manage the inspection workflow to help simplify the inspection process, reduce costs, and create a more efficient workforce.
- Calculation and analysis
To understand the health of an asset, a combination of inspection readings, asset properties and historic readings must be utilised. OverSeer provides a central database to manage inspection, capture new data and automatically perform health calculations.
Our solutions improve communication between stakeholders, supply instant validation and feedback and perform automated analysis of data. Get in touch to revolutionise your inspection data.