As the driving force behind digital transformation and the development of Industry 4.0, Daher couldn't let data mining go by. So, the French ETI set up a first service at the start of the year with TBM Analytics and its Me&MyTBM application, intended for TBM pilots. This project is the first stone in a much wider scheme, which should lead to data being used for all of the company's activities over the Daher Analytics platform launched last year.
"We ran seminars to see how we could best use data", begins RaphaŽl Maitre, Daher's Customer Support director. "This then took us to 'what can I do with my TBM?'". The aircraft manufacturer's teams met two groups of five customers at Oshkosh 2017, one of the most important events for the aviation industry in the United States.
This work enabled a spectrum of relevant information to be provided to pilots (who often own their planes in the case of TBM) from data generated by the aircraft, and enabled an application to be built to send this information on. Me&MyTBM is therefore able to offer pilots a general view of the status of their TBM, with the operation of the battery, the oil consumption or even the level of fuel in the tanks.
Users can then go further with access to the aircraft's maintenance status, via the monitoring solution from the American company CAMP. They can also consult their flying history, with their flight plan, their consumption, their flying time, their engine parameters, torque and so on. Daher provides its customers with around forty parameters free of charge.
Building a framework
To retrieve the data in question, Daher approached Pratt & Whitney Canada, which equips the TBMs with its PT6A-66D turboprop. The flight and engine data is then collected and transmitted (by 3G connection when back on the ground) via its FAST unit, which has been installed as standard on TBMs since the start of the year. The Canadian engine manufacturer processes it before sending it to Daher, via CAMP, in a format the company is able to use. Finally, the aircraft manufacturer makes it available to pilots within thirty minutes following the flight.
This meant that a contractual framework had to be drawn up for the relationship between Pratt & Whitney Canada and CAMP to manage this data recovery, but also the data's confidentiality (the engine manufacturer must erase anything which doesn't relate to it directly after 15 days, and the configuration of the FAST unit for TBM's use. Daher has also had to obtain its customers' consent to share their data, something which seems not to have been a problem.
While the project doesn't yet constitute true data mining, it has enabled the bases to be laid for it. RaphaŽl Maitre explains that Daher has been able to move forward in terms of its Internet of Things (IoT) learning curve and has started to dig into this complex sector. To reach Me&MyTBM, the ETI has been able to build up experience on which data is to be recovered, under which conditions, for which results, where it is to be stored, at what price and so on.
The customer support director is not looking much further forward. Daher is only using a limited part of the data it has available. The combination between the FAST unit and the TBMs' Garmin 1000/3000 avionics provides them with access to 418 parameters. And this figure could rise further with the integration of sensors on certain items of equipment, such as propellers.
A first step towards smart data
More than just increasing the number of parameters, the real challenge will be to "add intelligence to data", confirms RaphaŽl Maitre. This means that the objective is to move towards megadata analysis to improve operations - for example with the introduction of predictive maintenance, optimised fleet management and an analysis-based consulting offer - but also production and design. The TBM design office has already made requests with this in mind.
Daher's teams will therefore be able to start processing data in greater depth. There will be many challenges to overcome, with the development of models, the design of algorithms, the development of results analysis capacity and of course the use of these results. Consequently, the company will need to start recruiting and find the right partners.
This should go hand in hand with the work carried out by Armstrong, a team of two people based in Silicon Valley (California), with the aim of "strengthening interaction with the digital world', according to Didier Kayat, Daher's CEO. In particular, this team is responsible for identifying new technological trends, encouraging their integration in collaboration with the Daher Lab and establishing partnerships with local innovation actors.
For Daher, the stakes go far beyond building planes. This work which is being carried out with TBM Analytics represents a case study which should benefit society as a whole. New projects based on this first experience should develop in other sectors of activity, such as equipment production, logistics, nuclear and so on, through Daher Analytics.