5 digital solutions serving production and maintenance at Airbus

Airliner in motion on abstract background of highrise and binary code

The world air traffic, catalyzed by the expansion of economies, in particular in India, China and Middle East, meets an unprecedented growth. Airbus plans a demand close to 37,400 aircrafts until 2037. This represents a yearly average evolution of +4.4%.

In 2018, Airbus demonstrated record throughputs on assembly chains, with an average of 66.6 A320 models produced each month. Coupled to an order book of 7,525 aircrafts or 9.38 years to the current production rate, the manufacturer aims at intensifying furthermore its cadences thanks to digital tools.

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Solution 1

Each player on the aerospace market only detains a fraction of the data of his environment. Partnered with Palantir, Airbus rolled out in 2017 its new data platform called Skywise. This platform aims at increasing the value chain via crucial data sharing among players of the aerospace industry.

  • Suppliers: details and availability of components
  • Manufacturers: design, production and MRO
  • Airline companies: flight data and passenger behaviors
  • Airports: plane, passenger and luggage movements

Skywise gathers all the data of 22 airline companies, 2,500 planes, 12 million flights and 25 million maintenance files.  With digital, Airbus divided its problem resolution time by 3 for the assembly of the A350 and it respected the increase of production cadences of this program. In the future, Airbus plans to incorporate supplier data (currently hosted on a separate platform) as well as partner airport data.

Solution 2

In cooperation with a major consulting firm, Airbus developed smart glasses improving precision and reducing the complexity of cabin planning processes. The seat marking is a long process because the specificities between plane categories and planning according to airline company requirements makes standardization impossible. This “wearable” technology divides by 6 the required time for seat marking.

Solution 3

A key element of 4.0 aerospace production is the creation of IoT “digital twins”. These virtual copies replicate the characteristics of a product or a physical process. The coupling of virtual and physical worlds allows to analyze data and monitoring systems in order to prevent issues before they even occur, avoid down times and plan the future by using simulations. The Safran-GE joint venture called CFM International pairs each LEAP engine provided to Airbus with a digital avatar, providing a real-time diagnosis of engines in circulation and idle ones.

 

Solution 4

Airbus equips each of its aircrafts with an average of 20,000 embedded MRO sensors in order to identify defective equipment and structural parts that need to be changed. This way, this process helps to optimize the exploitation and lifespan of the plane.

The anomalies identified by the Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) lead to anticipating a change of parts or equipment rather than a repair – the Turn Around Time (TAT) of an equipment renewal being usually shorter than the repair – and limits duration of AOGs (Aircraft On Ground).

In parallel, the parts aimed at the spare part fleet are produced in an anticipated way, reducing stocks and production times. The demand for “spare parts” is then satisfied without jeopardizing the production of parts targeted to the initial aircraft assembly.

Solution 5

Partnering with Dassault Systems, Airbus announced the roll-out of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to support its digital transformation. 3DEXPERIENCE lays the foundation of a numerical consistency, from conception to operations, in a single data model for a unified user experience throughout all product divisions and categories. With this implementation, Airbus hopes a robust production configuration coupled to an increase of its prototype development lead times.

Avec ces outils, Airbus entend booster sa capacité à produire vite et bien. De la conception, avec 3DEXPERIENCE, en passant par la production, avec les lunettes intelligentes, jusqu’à la maintenance, à l’aide de capteurs et répliques virtuelles, les solutions digitales représentent un gisement de valeur déterminant pour Airbus, dont Skywise devient progressivement la colonne vertébrale.