Philippe Mhun, Airbus: The goal is to have 100 airlines and 10 000 planes connected to Skywise by the end of 2019

Interview by Emilie Drab in Amsterdam
31/10/2018 | 1150 words
Philippe Mhun, Airbus: The goal is to have 100 airlines and 10 000 planes connected to Skywise by the end of 2019
During MRO Europe in Amsterdam on 17th and 18th October, Le Journal de l'Aviation had the opportunity to meet Philippe Mhun, Airbus SVP Customer Services, who talked about Skywise and its developments.

Where are you with the deployment of Skywise?

We currently have 29 airlines who are customers of Skywise. 28 of them are using the Core platform, which is the "data lake" where the aircraft data may be downloaded and which provides the functionality of publishing relatively synthetic indicators. Then we have 28 airlines which use the Reliability Services solution, which is one step further on and which enables the link to be made between a certain number of events which occurred during service and the solutions which are available in terms of plane modification. It is also a way for operators to produce their reliability report: a Japanese customer explained to us that before it took him three weeks' work to produce his reliability report for the Japanese authority; it's half a day's work with Skywise Reliability Service.

We also have nine users of Skywise Predictive Maintenance. The ideas behind this solution is to be able to monitor a certain number of plane parameters using a relatively sophisticated algorithm and to convert technical breakdowns into planned events.

So, today we have 29 airlines and just over 3000 aircraft which benefit from the Skywise platform's services.

To which types of platform may Skywise be applied?

We can download all data, not just from the Airbus fleet, but from any competitor aircraft and we already have customers who download competitor aircraft type data to the Skywise platform.

So the A220 should be integrated into it too?

Absolutely. At the moment, the A220 has an integrated platform called SmartLink which has the capacity to transmit a certain amount of data to the ground. But it doesn't have these predictability elements. Therefore, we are working with them to offer the same services as on the other Airbus family aircraft.

Could you tell us about the contract you signed with Delta at the start of the week? How far back does the airline go in developing Skywise services?

Delta is one of the airlines which helped us design Skywise Predictive Maintenance. We worked with them on the pain points, the operational challenges we wanted to work with to find predictability responses. Then we imported algorithms, which weren't initially supported by Skywise but by another platform, into Skywise Predictive Maintenance. By doing so, Delta practically benefited from a profitability analysis and is able to combine the reduction in the number of technical events, for example, with benefits, or in any case non-costs. Of course, as they developed Skywise Predictive Maintenance with us, they were perfectly inclined to sign up their 400 planes to the platform. In time, this will cover the whole fleet - it will be commissioned on the A350 a little later.

From which equipment can data be collected? For example, it may be difficult to access engine data or to monitor the ageing of a cabin; can Skywise do it?

In theory, anything is possible. The data lake lets us combine data which comes from different bases then we restructure it so that it can then be used by the applications. But we don't have any engine data in Skywise at the moment. We do have cabin data, but it is directly linked to a certain number of system which have sensors. We are studying the potential applications: we are discussing things such as how to use a communications router onboard the aircraft to transmit a certain quantity of engine data. This is one of the solutions we are looking at. We put ourselves in a customer's shoes: in a maintenance control centre, we want to analyse by remote, manage a fleet. What's interesting is to see the whole aircraft. This is what guides our work.

What are the other domains where you are working to extend Skywise?

We announced Skywise for Suppliers at Farnborough. We have partners who share with us the data they acquire when repairing their equipment. Looking at the information on the context in which an item of equipment broke down can enable us to understand failure modes better. Then we inject it into a design loop which enables us to define a modification that can improve the equipment's reliability.

We've been working with these suppliers for just over a year now: we have had the same approach as with our customers, with joint design on certain items of pilot equipment with each of these equipment manufacturers.

We also have a network of MRO partners, the Airbus MRO Alliance, with whom we are evaluating the use of Skywise as part of improvements to the effectiveness of their maintenance system.

We are also looking at how to make life easier for leasing companies to enable easier transition of aircraft from one operator to another. Having a certain amount of historical information enables up to speed up the transition process between airlines.

These are just a few examples of a Skywise ecosystem which will be broader than that, given that we use Skywise in our own industrial system to handle quality and other problems. It's being used a lot on the A350 to make the ramp-up more reliable and it is now a success.

Could you tell us the scale of the benefits for user airlines?

I'll let the airlines themselves answer that. But with Skywise Predictive Maintenance for example, we have a reduction of around 30% in the number of events in service, which may be slight delays or cancellations for technical reasons.

What are your growth objectives for the Services division?

We look at things in terms of the number of customers and aircraft who benefit from Skywise services. The objective is to have around a hundred airlines signed up to Skywise services by the end of 2019 and 10 000 aircraft connected.

Generally speaking, and not limiting ourselves to Skywise, the objective is to achieve 10 billion dollars in turnover in services in the next decade. Today, we are over 3 billion dollars, given that group turnover (including Airbus Helicopters and Defense and Space) is around 9 billion dollars.

Of this 3 billion, half is related to the spare parts activity and part distribution as a whole. Added to this are the PBH (Power by the hour) solutions and the cabin modification activities, each of which contributes around 20% - these are two major activities. Then there's pilot training - nearly half a million pilots will be needed over the next 20 years. We have a first training partnership with a training school in Mexico for ab initio training. Finally, we have our Navblue subsidiary, which designs software applications to optimise plane performance and carry out flight planning.
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