Imagine any complex machine as a collection of thousands of discrete parts. Now suppose that you infuse each of those parts with information as to how they fit in the whole, their needed maintenance, supplier and cost. And, with the touch of a button, they are animated and march to their assigned location and assemble themselves like a huge LEGO. As a mechanic, you can take a smartphone, tablet or augmented reality glasses and look at an assembly in need of repair. All of a sudden, the parts come alive and literally show you, the mechanic, exactly how they should be removed in order to gain access to the critical element in need of replacement. But, at the same time, the retired mechanic from his home can literally see exactly what you are seeing and add that extra piece of advice to avoid the “newbie” error. So you proceed with the repair while the process is being recorded so that the next guy or gal that needs to do the same repair has a traceable, step-by-step procedure to follow. It becomes a competitive 3D game in which the best mechanics become recognized for their skill and speed. The level of readiness of the aircraft they tend becomes their pride and joy, and the collaborative environment breeds recognition and a virtuous cycle of increasing mechanical perfection. And repetitive problems are documented for the OEMs and original designers to literally “eat their own dog food,” improving future designs and serviceability.
- Understand how new visualization technologies and collaborative telepresence may help solve the lack of qualified technicians to maintain the needed levels of military aircraft readiness
- Learn what a digital twin a digital thread are and how they can be created, maintained and applied
- Improve the required feedback to OEMs to improve serviceability and reduce maintenance costs for better future aircraft
Why Is It Important?
Statistics show that perhaps as few as 30% of modern military aircraft are ready to fly due to lack of proper maintenance and needed repairs. The combination of new technologies and old-fashioned mechanics’ knowledge promises to quickly and relatively inexpensively increase aircraft readiness and at the same time provide needed feedback to manufacturers to improve serviceability and reduce MRO costs. The increasing demands on efficiency, stringent safety requirements and the lack of qualified personnel represent a “perfect storm” that requires innovative approaches to maintain the required levels of service within stringent budgets.