Aircraft Maintenance Repair & Overhaul Configuration Capture System
Advanced Aerospace Assembly is leading a collaboration of SMEs aiming to integrate imaging, scanning, workflow and virtual/augmented reality technologies in order to transform the effectiveness and efficiency of maintaining in-service aircraft. Efficient maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) processes are vital to keep aircraft flying safely and preventing costly delays arising from unplanned time on the ground. The other members of the consortium are Argenta Europ, Intoware, NCTECH, Serious Games International, and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield.
The 30-month project is also supported by strategic partners Siemens, BAE Systems, Marshall Aerospace and Autodesk.
There are a number of issues that MRO engineers and technicians face. For example, processes around planned maintenance can be optimised to reduce aircraft time on ground. However, repairs and unplanned maintenance of parts, components and systems which occur unexpectedly can be more difficult to rectify and can lead to significant costs while the aircraft is out of service. One source of difficulty is the lack of immediate access to the configuration and repair history of the aircraft – the difference between as-built and as-is. There are a number of issues that MRO engineers and technicians face.
AMROCCS aims to build a paperless system that will capture and log configuration changes over time; deliver data and MRO guidance to technicians at the aircraft; record work done and configuration data in many forms, with digital sign-offs.
A major airline has already expressed interest in AMROCCS as a tool for reducing the down time of aircraft and optimising essential on-runway services.
Mike Drummond, Commercial Manager at Argenta Europ, said:
One low-cost carrier told us that a delay of 2 hours can incur costs of around £5,000 in meal vouchers alone. So the ability to perform these tasks quickly and efficiently, even while passengers are boarding the aircraft, can save a significant amount of unwanted expenditure.
Augmented Reality-based training and the guided nature of process work-flows will enable local engineers to perform tasks supported by on-line experts. Potential cross-sector applications of the technology are being explored by the project; for example in other high-value manufacturing applications such as shipbuilding, rail, and defence sectors.
The project aims to have delivery of a TRL 5-6 demonstrator by 2018, in part due to the nature of the software market and its short development times. The project is playing a key role in speeding up development times for the participating SMEs and bring the product to market quicker.The project has also opened up opportunities to build wider collaborations and innovation ecosystems. Mike Drummond concluded:
Involvement in an ATI project is a great validation of the technologies and innovative ideas that SMEs can bring, and therefore a great platform to meet partners and expand business.