Home' Asian Aviation : AAV June 2017 Contents VIEWPOINT
AS ANY COMPUTER GEEK KNOWS, opening the terminal window
on a computer should only be done by experts simply because
accessing the terminal window and inputting commands by some-
one who fancies themselves a programmer can wreak havoc on a
But in this day and age of information technology, the Internet of
Things, Big Data, and artificial intelligence, it seems like there’s lot of
“code monkeys” out there who believe that technology will solve the
aviation world’s problems and help airlines, OEMs, MROs and others
save millions of dollars with things like predictive maintenance on
engine parts or IFEC systems or simply checking baggage.
The rub of the matter is that once we rely on computers to the ex-
clusion of everything else, technology will invariably let us down, not
because of the technology per se, but because it was designed by
fallible humans. Witness the glitch at British Airways that stranded
thousands of passengers in the UK and at points around the globe.
And that was just the latest example. In recent years, everyone from
United to Delta to AirAsia and others in Asia, the US and Europe,
have been affected by computer outages and planes themselves
are also vulnerable due to wrong inputs by pilots or other factors.
Outdated or overstressed air traffic control systems have also been
affected. This reliance on technology often leads to terminal woes of
another sort — that of hungry, thirsty and angry passengers by the
thousands milling around airports whose dream vacation is ruined
or whose job interview in another city is lost.
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. Anyone who has been to
my home office/studio knows this. At last count, there are two iMacs,
a Mac Pro, five iPads of different variants, and a Mac mini server
residing there in addition to an iWatch and various iPhones. The
bookcases are also filled with books on C++ programming, Applied
Cryptography, UNIX, HTML , CSS and several other computer or
technology-related examples. But I still own a manual typewriter —
just in case — because I know from experience about the dangers
of using the terminal window.
Big Data, predictive maintenance
Putting aside for a moment the terminal woes in London and else-
where, we discuss in this issue the use of Big Data for OEMs and
MRO providers that companies like Thales, Lufthansa Technik,
Rolls-Royce and many others are rolling out to take advantage of
the thousands of sensors installed on a modern airplane and ter-
abytes of data those sensors generate that can, in some cases, be
monitored in real-time.
The goal of all this technology is to gain insights into the oper-
ations and health of the thousands of components that allow the
miracle of modern flight to occur. And when one thinks about it,
getting a jetliner in the air with 450 passengers, thousands of pounds
of fuel and luggage and flying it halfway around the world is a mod-
ern miracle. But all this Big Data can also generate problems and
challenges on its own. Who actually owns that data for example?
Is it Rolls-Royce that built the engine or the airline that bought the
plane and the engines? What rights to the data does a third-party
MRO have? What about the lessors? Do they have rights to access
the data on a machine they own but have leased to an airline? Is
that spelled out in the lease agreement?
Predictive maintenance is another issue that crops up. What ’s to
stop an OEM from shielding or “tweaking” the data on parts and
components and their shelf lives to generate more sales of said parts
and components in the planned obsolescence style of the modern
lightbulb? (Note to OEMs — this last item was actually raised by a
third-party component supplier with a global reputation.)
Add to the mix the use of artificial intelligence to corral all the data
generated by engines and planes and I’m reminded of that great film,
2001 by Stanley Kubrick, in which the HAL 9000 computer “predicts”
the failure of the AE35 unit connecting the Discovery One’s commu-
nications to Earth. Science fiction you might argue, but at one time,
flying was also considered to be in the realm of fantasy.
What all this points to is that at the end of the day, the industry
should indeed push technology to the limit, but balance that push
with multiple robust and redundant systems so paying customers
don’t end up paying the price at the terminal.
Ma Driskil EDITOR
Who's doing it right in Asia
6 AsianAviation | June 2017
Is a mega airport always the answer
Is aviation doing enough to lessen its impact
AAV_June 2017.indd 6
1/06/2017 5:40:30 PM
Links Archive AAV May 2017 AAV July-August 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page