Best Practices for Data-Driven Aircraft Maintenance
Best Practices for Data-Driven Aircraft Maintenance

April 26, 2024

An evidence-based approach to business aircraft maintenance means planes spend more time in the air and less time on the ground, said John Talmadge, vice president of business development at aviation management platform provider Veryon, which sponsored an April 25 NBAA Thought Leadership webinar on the topic.

“It’s an indispensable asset,” he said, before guiding the expert panel through a far-ranging discussion touching on topics including key data-platform features and functionality, balancing safety concerns with the need to be efficient, overcoming cultural obstacles to data-driven maintenance and strategies for reducing aircraft downtime for inspections.

On the question of how data-driven maintenance improves on traditional, reactive aircraft maintenance, panel members pointed to an improved ability to track squawks and identify recurring issues, as well as improved predictive-maintenance ability.

“Data-driven maintenance helps us pinpoint issues and better forecast where we should focus maintenance attention,” said Jeff Yoder, director of maintenance at Elite Jets. “As a result, we can be more efficient with our time and resources.”

Panel members agreed on the need for more data-sharing between and among OEMs and operators, to provide maintenance teams with more visibility into supply chains and create data sets large enough to train AI-enabled predictive maintenance applications.

“We want to do predictive product stocking and maintenance, but we don’t have a big enough data set,” explained Brad Ongna, senior manager of maintenance and ground operations at Stryker. “That’s got to come from the OEMs.”

Participants also agreed it’s crucial for maintenance organizations to build a strong culture of safety. While regulations can seem onerous to people trying to get aircraft in the air as quickly as possible, a safety-first approach pays off in the long run.

To succeed, maintenance organizations need to encourage open communication and eliminate any fears that may prevent people from reporting issues. A variety of tactics can help in this effort, but having regular team meetings is at the top of the list.

“We have a team meeting every morning,” said Tim Cox, chief of maintenance at Lowes. “But for me it starts in the hiring process. If you get the right people, the right mix of opinions and experience, the culture will take care of itself.”

Other topics of discussion included approaches to risk mitigation, the importance of training technicians and flight crews on proper and effective issue reporting, and what to look for when evaluating technology system vendors. Finally, panel participants talked about real-world examples of their maintenance efforts being improved by a data-driven approach.

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