Boeing aims to revolutionise preventative line maintenance with the commercial launch of its Airplane Health Management (AHM) system in 12 months' time.

Boeing AHM programme manager Robert Manelski says the real-time onboard fault notification system could be in service early 2004, if mid-year beta-testing with participating customers is successful.

The system datalinks fault messages from an aircraft's central maintenance computer (CMC) to Boeing ground stations, which are passed instantaneously to the operators base. Manelski says AHMwill be used for "fault-forwarding, providing advance warning of failures ...and aiding fault prioritisation for non-airworthiness-related faults".

He adds: "We've been recording fault indications on in-service 747-400s and 777s and we've mined the data for significant samples. Our confidence in the patterns is very high, as we are using real-life data instead of trying to model the operating environment."

When first deployed, the benefits of the AHM system will be economic rather than safety-related. The extra information should allow airlines to make a more informed decision as to when to perform preventative line-maintenance work with minimum schedule impact or financial penalties. While AHM would be the vehicle for more wide-ranging prognosis in the future, Manelski says the technology for such applications "is not yet mature".

Source: Flight International