Boeing [NYSE: BA] and Etihad Airways have announced the introduction of a cutting-edge aircraft maintenance system to monitor the in-flight health of five new 777-300ERs being delivered in the first half of 2006.
Airplane Health Management is an innovative condition-monitoring and prognostic service developed by Boeing Commercial Aviation Services. AHM provides timely maintenance information to airlines that can be used to address potential problems before they force planes out of service.
The true significance of the Etihad purchase, however, lies in the fact that the airline is a first-time 777 operator but has, by signing up for AHM, tapped into the collective knowledge and experience of Boeing and other AHM customers from the day the new planes are put into service. It is the first time that Boeing is delivering AHM concurrent with an airplane model being flown for the first time by a customer.
"We're excited, as a brand-new customer of 777s, to realize an immediate benefit to our maintenance operations that will help ensure the reliability of our new planes," said Geert Boven, vice president-commercial for Etihad Airways. "Our commitment is to our guests, and we are dedicated to providing on-time flights and the exemplary service for which Etihad is becoming known. AHM will help us meet the expectations of excellence."
During a flight, AHM gathers data about systems on the airplane and relays that information in real time to personnel on the ground. Based on that communication, maintenance crews can be ready with the parts, tools and information necessary 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.
"Etihad represents a tremendous new customer for Airplane Health Management because of the airline's reputation for operational reliability and quality," said Dan da Silva, vice president of Sales and Marketing for Boeing Commercial Aviation Services. "Our customers are demanding a program that brings maintenance into the 21st century along with avionics, wing design, interiors and all the other key systems in a modern aircraft. AHM does exactly that, putting customers such as Etihad at the forefront of proactive, efficient airplane maintenance and management."
AHM is a key technology in Boeing's effort to e-Enable the air transport system. Central to the effort is the idea that data, information and knowledge are shared across an entire enterprise to allow airlines to make the best decisions to operate their fleets at the highest levels of safety, security and efficiency. AHM is designed to integrate seamlessly with other e-Enabled products from Boeing, such as the Class 3 Boeing Electronic Flight Bag, MyBoeingFleet and the Maintenance Performance Toolbox.
In addition, AHM will support long-term fleet reliability programs by helping airlines identify recurring faults and trends. And, data collected from one airline can actually guide repair decisions at another airline operating the same planes based on history and fleet experience.