This article was originally published in the October 2021 edition of AirMed&Rescue

by Clara Bullock

The use of digital technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, AR/VR, digital twins, and 3D printing to perform maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) operations are referred to as digital MRO. These technologies increase the efficiency of operations and reduce turnaround time.

Having a digital MRO strategy is no longer peripheral to an aviation business – it is becoming central to core strategies of organizations, helping them to gain a competitive edge over others. Having the right tool to automate data ingestion, parsing it, and managing various versions of the document, amongst other tasks, can reduce indirect costs by more than 70 per cent.

Nothing is changing the MRO industry and driving the development of new solutions more than digitalization. It is the biggest game changer of this decade. With 50-times more data generated by new aircraft types, and approximately 50 per cent of airline operating costs consisting directly or indirectly of MRO services – further cost reduction can only be accomplished through MRO and operational optimization driven by digitalization.

We spoke to Tim Alden, Commercial Partner and Special Projects Director at Rusada, who details how their ENVISION software aims to meet the aviation sector’s complex digital needs without compromising functionality and usability.

ENVISION functionality is said to meet three key areas: airworthiness, MRO, and flight operations. How do you ensure usability and user comfort when meeting so many priorities?

Aviation is a very complex, data rich environment, so our job is to make sure customers, who will each have a different focus, can monitor and action their responsibilities in a timely manner. So as not to overload the user with irrelevant information, ENVISION allows users to create personalised dashboards that monitor and alert them of any changes of state or exceeded thresholds.

From a development side, each functional area of ENVISION is managed by product owners recruited from and responsible for that specialisation in the industry. All modules are highly adept at handling the individual challenges while retaining the same experience as the system, allowing users to easily switch areas when the need arises. This grants users the benefits of multi-discipline software, such as increased visibility, de-duplication of effort, higher data integrity.

In March 2021, CEO Julian Stourton stated that ENVISION’s focus would be to meet the aviation industry’s more complex needs. How does this focus enable ENVISION to better support its aviation audience’s priorities?

To truly handle aviation’s intricacies and nuances, you need highly specialised software. Some software providers attempt to alter their generic ERP solutions to try and make them fit for aviation. This rarely works well – there’s only so much that can be changed without it affecting users in other industries. Our approach is to focus purely on aviation so as to meet the most complex challenges faced by aircraft operators and maintainers.

An example of this is a customer who has a core control at helicopter type level and the ability to track individual airframes dedicated to specialised operations – medevac, surveillance, patient transport, Covid isolation – with STC equipment that can also be monitored for usage should the certificate require it. It is scenarios such as this where more generic solutions would struggle.

ENVISION is deployed by customers across 40 countries. What are the challenges in ensuring the software can meet the regional regulatory in a global industry?

This is not as onerous a task as you may imagine. ENVISION can manage multiple programs with differing approvals within the same database, as this is essential to our customers supporting global fleets. The real challenge comes at the early phase of implementation trying to interpret the needs of the organisation who may well be driven by the local demands of their airworthiness surveyor.

We can demonstrate and offer variations in documentation based on the experiences of our extensive customer base and can often find a pre-existing solution to their critical operational reports. The various modules of ENVISION have evolved through feedback from customers far and wide. We have developed the multi-region, multi-base, multi-currency, multi-worktime and multi-flight time duty limitation rules in such a way that customers themselves can mould the solution to their needs.

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