Boeing’s Airplane Safety Data Project
Safety Management Systems (SMS) Should Be Included
An airplane is composed of an infinite number of points which may collect data points relevant to aviation safety. Stan Deal, senior VP Boeing Commercial Aviation Services said that “[w]e have the opportunity to collaborate to unlock the benefits of the data revolution and help drive down costs, maximize availability, reliability and improve efficiencies for airlines.” He expects a “140-fold increase in the annual data generated by airplanes—from 6.9 terabytes in 2010 to 1 petabyte in 2030.”
Boeing’s focus in this project is described by Mr. Deal as follows: “The next step, for us as an OEM and for our entire industry, is to develop integrated solutions that will drive a step-function decrease in the cost of operating and maintaining commercial airplanes. The first attempt at Boeing is to work with customers and find out what is the value creation that we can create with the data to help them.” The author uses terms of costs and economics.
Presumably and hopefully, the aircraft company is also studying the utility of the information for safety purposes. Economics and decreasing risk have strong correlation. The recording of the replacement cycle of a part or system, ostensibly an aspect of Boeing data inventory, provides trend lines as to reordering it. The time between installation and a second part, particularly if that period is declining, also may signify a reduction in reliability raising questions about its dependability—a safety consideration.
As Boeing initiates this project, SMS experts should be included in the design team. People familiar with the relevance of the data point should have input on what would be of value to SMS reviews. An inundation of numbers without great direct proximity to the safety regimen’s analytical tools would not be productive. Further, it may also be worthwhile to segregate the flow from the aircraft monitors into categories related to finances and safety.
A well functioning Boeing data system should contribute to lower maintenance expenses and simultaneously lower operational risks. Thoughtful planning should meet two goals.