French defense minister Florence Parly is clearly counting on innovation to strengthen France's defence capabilities. The Armed Forces minister launched the DOMINNO (Données de maintenance moteur innovante, or Innovative engine maintenance data) programme on 26th March, with the notification of a study to Safran Helicopter Engines. The study should "develop a first "connected" engine capability to facilitate the organisation of maintenance operations" for French military helicopters.
The DOMINNO study will run for 25 months and will have a budget of two million Euro. It takes the generation and use of big data to improve maintenance in operational condition (MOC). It opens up areas such as predictive maintenance which uses data processing and analysis (engine condition, flight, weather, etc.) to predict the occurrences which may hinder the availability of an aircraft and when they will occur, and so enable suitable action. Unlike preventive maintenance, this also enables a component's maximum lifetime to be exploited by only changing it at the last moment or by extending maintenance cycles.
The role of Safran Helicopter Engines will be to define which data is of interest and how to collect it (definition of sensors, transmission modes, etc.). The engine manufacturer will then have to create methodologies to monitor this data by developing algorithms which will be able to detect advance warning of a failure, for example.
This announcement arrives just as French MOC is being turned upside down with the launch of a major transformation plan at the end of 2017 and the creation of the DMAé (Aeronautical maintenance department). This department has still not officially taken over from the SIMMAD which is it due to replace.