Aviation MRO: the importance of digitalization
Interview of Christophe Remy in the show #JMLECO on BFM Business, French TV channel
For our English speaking readers, we have summarized below the interview of Christophe Remy, CEO of Fingermind by the French economic journalist Nicolas Doze broadcasted on May 18th, 2022 on BFM Business.
Fingermind is a long-standing player in the aviation maintenance industry. Since 2000, this software publisher offers a comprehensive solution to airlines and MROs. Fingermind is also diversifying into the military field. Explanations with Christophe Remy, CEO of Fingermind.
After two years of crisis, what is your assessment of the aerospace market?
Covid was the starting point for many complications. There was, of course, the sudden stop in air traffic, and even today its restart has been uneven. Not to mention the “zero Covid” strategy that continues in Asia, blocking certain regions for an indefinite period. In addition to this crisis, there are other problems: the increase in the price of kerosene, more stringent environmental requirements (decarbonization, green aviation) and the war in Ukraine, which is lengthening the routes to Asia.
The airlines themselves are experiencing difficulties. They are struggling to recruit maintenance mechanics and even pilots. These activities used to be flourishing, but there have been many job conversions and the sector has since lost its attractiveness. In addition, some companies in the Middle East and the United States have laid off thousands of people during the crisis, which also explains this labor shortage.
Nevertheless, a revival is emerging from this complex situation. Companies have become aware of the need to renew almost all their fleets, and therefore to scrap the oldest or most fuel-intensive aircraft. There should not be a major increase in volume, but rather a transformation over the next five years. The average age of an aircraft is currently 20 years. After this renewal, it should be 9 to 10 years.
What are the issues that Fingermind addresses?
Aeronautics is a sector that has not yet fully taken the turn to digitalization. Its progress is very slow in this area but remains unavoidable. And the economic situation proves it. However, work methods still involve a lot of paper documents and handwritten approvals. Among the activities that must be digitized is access to all aircraft maintenance documentation.
An airplane is a complex machine made up of numerous equipment pieces: engine, landing gear, APU, etc. Each manufacturer usually offers its own tool to provide access to the documentation for a specific component. This approach multiplies the number of tools and training courses for mechanics and technicians. However, manpower is becoming scarce, and costs are increasing. It is therefore necessary to use tools capable of optimizing, improving, and streamlining the entire aeronautical maintenance process. And this is precisely what Fingermind provides.
We offer a single software to access all aircraft maintenance documentation. Our solution centralizes and standardizes access to information on the engine, landing gear, seats, IFE, etc. The software is available in both local and connected mode. All documentation can be stored locally on a dedicated tablet. On aircraft arrival, the mechanic can easily access it via the tablet and search for instance for a possible fault cause using the available software features. On the other side, the connected mode is available from a maintenance hangar for major operations (C-Check).
Are you using AI to optimize aircraft maintenance?
Yes! We develop AI based tools to better understand the way the mechanic works. This analysis allows us to identify potential difficulties in executing a procedure, while always keeping the safety of the passenger in mind. Fingermind collects this information and shares it with the airlines. It is up to them to decide the necessary optimizations (improving training, modifying the internal process, etc.) in compliance with regulatory constraints (EASA, FAA, etc.).
Do you have a final word?
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently launched a funding program to facilitate pilot and mechanic training and overcome recruitment issues for these positions. According to the FAA, the solution lies in digitalization and in the training of new jobs, skills and new ways of working.
This multi-million-dollar program is designed to encourage pilot and mechanic schools to take the plunge and attract young talent. Fingermind and its advanced technological solutions are fully in line with this awareness to revitalize the sector and meet the economic constraints of airlines.
Watch the entire video (in French)