Cradle to Grave: Could some processes be too complicated for an IoT solution?
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are currently working on a permanent solution to address grey areas in the documentation chain of replacement aircraft parts. While there are no hard and fast laws on the books, there are a few guidelines. Exporting parts from the US to the EU requires a specific document but determining the airworthiness of a part can be done in-house by an accredited repair person or as an incoming part accompanied by an undefined range of acceptable documentation according to FAA recommendations.
The only group of parts that are assessed outside of this grey area are Limited-Life Parts (LLP) which consist of major structural components like the air-frame, engine, propeller, landing gear or rotor. Understandably, there is an industry-wide consensus that no repair shop will accept an LLP without its back-to-birth documentation.
These “birth certificates” ensure (and prove) that the manufacturer determined life limit—the time before a part becomes susceptible to fatigue or failure—has not been exceeded. This process helps identify worn out parts sooner which can potentially avoid maintenance delays, escalating recall situations, or even more serious incidents.
Everyone agrees upon the importance of traceability, but the document trail is a complex web of paper work which consists of manufacturer certification, removal and installation documents, maintenance records and even statements from previous operators. Currently, log cards are used to record the movement and corresponding life cycles of parts.
These are the kinds of puzzles that IoT solutions providers have the potential to solve with smart connectivity. Far from a turn key solution, these kinds of operations will not
be solved overnight. The Singapore Air Show was an excellent venue for discussion and presentation of possible solutions to ongoing supply chain inefficiencies in aerospace.