Airbus Helicopters delivers the first of 100 H135s for China in Qingdao. Photo courtesy of Airbus
Airbus Helicopters said almost 550 helicopters belonging to 146 of the company's customers are sharing data to improve helicopter performance and business results.
“In less than two years, we’ve brought the number of helicopters connected to Airbus Helicopters from zero to nearly 550,” Matthieu Louvot, Airbus Helicopters' EVP of customer support and services, said in a statement. “We’re pleased that helicopter operators are seeing the value that data sharing and analytics promise, such as fewer operational interruptions, greater cost competitiveness, increased safety and better anticipated maintenance actions, and we’re confident that this number will continue to grow.”
The customer shared data from Airbus’ Helionix avionics suite, health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS) and Fleet Keeper digital logbook, among others. In addition, helicopter maintenance data will be shared, due to agreements Airbus Helicopters has signed with four maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) software providers: MRX Systems, Rusada, Ramco and Traxxall.
"Through these agreements, we’re paving a two-way digital street between Airbus Helicopters and the companies that manage maintenance data for helicopter operators, facilitating the automatic sharing of data and avoiding human-error-prone and time-consuming manual transfers,” Louvot said.
Stephanie Bonnefoy-Fourie, Airbus Helicopters' head of connected services, said that helicopter maintenance information, such as part numbers, hours in service, and modifications and overhauls done, "is an important data set that helps paint a complete picture of an aircraft’s history and experiences.”
“By benchmarking my maintenance activities against other operators, I might see that similar operators replaced a certain part every 2,000 hours, whereas I replaced the same part every 1,000 hours," she said. "This indicates that maybe I am doing something wrong, or maybe I could be doing something differently to save time and money.”
The 550 connected helicopters include H125s, H130s, H145s, H155s, H175s, H215s and H225s, among others, performing a number of missions including emergency medical services (EMS), public services, tourism, training, private and business aviation, oil and gas, and search and rescue.
The 146 customers are given access to a core set of digital and analytics services free of charge, such as fleet activity reports. Customers seeking deeper insights can sign up for analytic and consulting services offered by HCare Connected Services — ranging from customer benchmarking against similar operators to predictive analytics that anticipate future events.
One example is FlyScan predictive maintenance services, in which Airbus analyzes HUMS vibration data and recommends when to replace a component before faults occur, thus limiting aircraft-on-ground (AOG) situations, increasing availability and reducing the maintenance burden, Airbus said. Since FlyScan’s launch in 2017, 10 operators with 44 aircraft have subscribed, resulting in the ability to prevent approximately one AOG per year per customer, the company said.