Japan Airlines (JAL) has agreed to be the third developmental partner for a Boeing [NYSE: BA] in-flight airplane monitoring system designed to help airlines reduce flight schedule interruptions.
JAL joins Air France and American Airlines in a four-month pre-release test of Airplane Health Management, a new data-monitoring and prognostic service developed by Boeing Commercial Aviation Services. The testing will ensure availability for more airlines during the first half of 2004.
"The addition of JAL rounds out our development program," said AHM Program Director Robert Manelski. "We intentionally selected airlines from different regions so varying operating demographics are represented during the design and test of the service."
For the test period, the three airlines will use AHM on half their Boeing 747 and 777 fleets.
"The development partnerships and pre-release trial provide 'real life' airline experience and feedback," said Manelski. "That input will be invaluable as we refine AHM and strive to make it the best it can be for our airline customers."
During a flight, AHM gathers data about systems on the airplane and relays that in real time to personnel on the ground. Based on that data, maintenance crews can be ready to make repairs when the airplane arrives at its airport gate. AHM can therefore help operators reduce the number and length of airplane dispatch delays and convert certain tasks from non-routine to scheduled maintenance.
In addition, AHM will support long-term fleet reliability programs by helping airlines identify recurring faults and trends.
Boeing will offer the AHM service in three releases. The first, Release 1.0, will involve the reporting of fault data from the airplane central maintenance computer. Release 2.0 will use "snapshots" of systems in operation from the airplane condition monitoring system. Release 3.0, due out in late 2005, will use a continuous stream of data taken during the entire flight.
AHM is part of a growing family of offerings from Boeing Commercial Aviation Services. Other products include a maintenance management software system specifically tailored to the air transport industry; a software module called Allowable Configuration Manager that centralizes configuration management via a Web-browser-based illustrated parts catalog and provisioning files; and an expanding document management system that currently includes Boeing Portable Maintenance Aid and Boeing Digital Technical Documents.
Asia's biggest airline, JAL is currently integrating its operations with domestic partner Japan Air System and serves 178 airports in 30 countries with a fleet of some 280 airplanes. After integration is completed in April 2004, the new JAL Group will rank as second in the world in terms of total sales revenues. JAL's fleet includes more than 80 747s, and the company was the first airline in the world to take delivery of 100 747 airplanes. JAL recently took delivery of its 150th twin-aisle Boeing jet.