MRO provider Lufthansa Technik has established a standalone company to create an industry-wide platform for the collection and storage of technical and operational aircraft data, and plans to share the entity's ownership with other aerospace players later this year.
The new company, named Aviation DataHub, was incorporated earlier this month to serve as an "independent" platform for airlines, maintenance companies, manufacturers, IT specialists and other service providers to aggregate and exchange data without competitive restrictions, LHT says.
As part of the move, it is separating the handling and storing of data from the provision of digital services – such as predictive maintenance – via the proprietary Aviatar software platform.
Speaking during a financial results briefing in Hamburg on 21 March, LHT chief executive Johannes Bussmann described the data hub's ownership as a co-operative model; a noncommercial platform is required for airlines to store data and share it with the service providers of their choice, he argues.
"Our aim is to ensure the independence of airlines and to maintain competition," Bussmann says, adding that the guiding principle is to ensure "[data] control, choice and competition".
While LHT is the data hub's current sole owner, the MRO group says talks are under way with aftermarket players – including its own competitors, as well as equipment manufacturers – to add further shareholders over "the next few months".
LHT intends to "ultimately reduce its stake significantly", it says.
Meanwhile, the number of aircraft enrolled in LHT's Aviatar platform has grown to more than 1,000, the majority of which are not operated by Lufthansa Group carriers, says head of digital fleet solutions Christian Langer.
Wizz Air has previously been named as an Aviatar customer.
Langer says the client base includes members of all three main airline alliances, low-cost and cargo operators in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Demand for Aviatar has exceeded LHT's expectations, he says.
Lufthansa, budget arm Eurowings and Swiss are among the carriers within the parent group that use the system.
Sister carrier Austrian Airlines wants to implement it too, but Langer says that the priority has been to integrate external customers.
He argues that – while certain predictive maintenance functions can be accomplished purely by analysis of aircraft onboard data – repair shop insight into component failure modes is central to refining the algorithms that automatically monitor performance of in-service equipment.
Especially in regard to reducing the number of "no fault found" cases – where equipment has been replaced because of failure alerts but no malfunction is later determined in the shop – it is crucial to "train" algorithms with insights into why and how parts might fail, Langer says.
While Aviatar's development has thus far been concentrated on technical aircraft support, LHT now intends to add functions for the improvement of flight and ground operations.