It’s a well-known fact that the worst aircraft disasters have happened due to overlooked maintenance or faulty aircraft. In 2019, US airlines reported 302 tarmac delays longer than three hours, compared to 202 that happened in 2018, according to data collected by the US Bureau of Transportation. What’s the main cause of such delays? These delays are attributed to unplanned maintenance operations.

Unplanned maintenance puts a major strain on airline operations and scheduling, while also disrupting passengers’ journeys. Airlines are now looking for ways to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into their maintenance operations to address this issue. The use of AI is expanding as a decision-making tool for maintenance teams working with commercial airlines. Technology can facilitate such operations in many ways, from predicting breakdowns to guiding on-field line maintenance teams, airlines can use AI to optimize their maintenance procedures.

Predictive Maintenance

Unplanned maintenance accounts for 30% of total delay time in airports, costing airlines millions in revenue annually. Airlines can deploy predictive maintenance solutions long before a break-down occurs using AI-powered analytics. The ability of AI to predict breakdowns and allow planned interventions can help airlines reduce operating costs while improving production yield. AI can interpret data from sensors, analyse it, and send the data in a report that can be easily understood. This algorithm reports on potential failures in real-time and arranges proper timelines for repairs.

Scheduling Maintenance Tasks

With planned maintenance, all the necessary resources can be prepared and allocated in advance. Planes typically have thousands of components. It can get hard to keep track of, especially for large fleets. Here’s where AI can be handy. AI-powered systems can keep track of the components in each plane, and generate specific work order tasks for maintenance technicians. The exercise ensures that all resources required during maintenance operations, which include manpower, spare parts, and hanger slots are prepared and allocated in advance.

Synchronizing Maintenance Operations

Many airline departments are involved in maintenance operations. All of them need to work together for maximum efficiency. AI-powered workflow organization systems can be used to coordinate maintenance operations across various departments. For example, the AI system can update the accountants of upcoming maintenance operations. The updates help to ensure that spare parts are ordered on time. Similarly, the system can inform customer service departments of any future flights that will be affected by maintenance operations so that they can reschedule flights accordingly.