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Japan Airlines engineering division selects IFS for aircraft fleet maintenance

Japan Airlines engineering division selects IFS for aircraft fleet maintenance


JAL Engineering Co, Japan Airlines’ engineering division, is deploying IFS aviation maintenance solution in the cloud to modernize long range maintenance planning for its near 200 aircraft fleet.

Japan Airlines’ maintenance and engineering subsidiary, JAL Engineering Co, has selected IFS to support fleet-wide long range maintenance planning.

Gerry Fosnick, President, IFS Japan

The IFS solution, to be deployed in the cloud, will provide long range planners with the unified information insights they need to quickly develop and share regulatory-compliant fleet maintenance plans that best support aircraft availability, task yield and hangar utilization for nearly 200 aircraft.

The IFS fleet planning solution replaces a JAL Engineering Co legacy fleet maintenance planning process that required extensive manual intervention. The IFS solution will allow the engineering team to manage more aircraft with reduced human intervention due to an efficient user experience, reduction in manual processes, real-time alerts and automated processes.

Deployed in the cloud, IFS’s planning and maintenance solution will improve visibility across the organization by providing real time planning updates. JAL Engineering Co staff will now be able to effectively examine the impact of key strategic decisions in the organization – such as modifying aircraft induction/retirement, adjusting resource levels or changing utilization levels – while also comparing key performance indicators.

IFS continues to grow its footprint in the Asia-Pacific commercial aviation and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) market, adding JAL Engineering Co, alongside China Airlines, Qantas and TAE Aerospace.

“After an extensive market review, JAL Engineering Co, selected IFS for its experience in the industry, strong existing reference customers and its complementary fit with our long-term MRO strategy,” explained Ryo Tamura, President, JAL Engineering Co.

“With IFS fleet maintenance planning software, JAL Engineering Co can automate processes that were previously manual and labor intensive, improve team collaboration by allowing planners to work on a single plan simultaneously, and ultimately decrease aircraft downtime and maximize task yield.”

Gerry Fosnick, President, IFS Japan, added: “This latest selection affirms the fact that IFS is trusted by some of the world’s leading airlines and MRO providers to support fleet-wide maintenance planning and operations. We look forward to working with JAL Engineering Co, to better manage its long-range fleet maintenance plans now and into the future.”

We asked him further questions to find out more about the project.

How can IFS help customers such as JAL Engineering Co support fleet-wide long range maintenance planning?

Maintaining the airworthiness, safety and regulatory compliance of their aircraft fleet is a critical component of any aviation organization’s business. However, delivering the best maintenance plan that can meet the expanding demand of a dynamic business can be a challenge when planners must contend with a network of maintenance facilities with varying capacity and capabilities, and pressure to keep aircraft in revenue service for as long as possible.

Traditional tools like spreadsheets and generic scheduling applications, not purpose-built for aviation planners, fall far short in meeting the complex forecasting, modelling, and control requirements of a modern and growing airline.

With IFS Fleet Planner, long range planners can move beyond the struggle of spreadsheet macros, manual data manipulation and document version control, and instead, focus their efforts on building comprehensive plans that best suit operational demands.

Designed to work with data from any maintenance information system, IFS Fleet Planner offers a complete set of tools that reduce the manual and repetitive efforts of creating and updating plans, while providing planners with the insights needed to choose the best possible plan.

What kind of information insights will customers such as JAL Engineering Co gain from the IFS fleet planning solution?

The idea of surfacing all the information the user needs to build the best possible plan is core to IFS Fleet Planner. While building and monitoring plans, information like overlapping maintenance visits and tasks planned beyond the forecasted due date is visually highlighted and easily navigable.

However, IFS Fleet Planner also provides users with the ability to compare multiple plans simultaneously – both from a side-by-side Gantt view, but also by comparing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for all selected plans. IFS is continuously adding new KPIs to our plan comparison tools to provide additional insights and comparison points.  KPIs include:

  • Plan cost
  • Plan yield
  • Track utilization
  • Days out of service and more.

It is this ability to compare and contrast different plans and different planning scenarios that provides the most powerful insights to the customer, allowing them to implement the best plan for their organization.

How can users benefit from the solution’s (a) reduction in manual processes, (b) real-time alerts and (c) automated processes?

IFS Fleet Planner simplifies maintenance visit planning for aircraft availability, check yield, resources, and hangar utilization. It reduces the manual and repetitive effort of planning with a set of time-saving tools.

The IFS Fleet planner scheduling takes into account a fully modelled maintenance program and all of the operational constraints defined to automatically schedule a plan for the whole fleet out decades into the future, or only to schedule specific sub-fleets or maintenance tasks in a specific time window.

Our customers have indicated to us that generating an equivalent wholesale plan would have taken them days with their previous tools and now takes them only seconds to minutes.

The scheduling engine automates many previously manual processes such as the auto-merging of visits and the incorporation of check-hierarchies, saving planners immense amounts of time, letting them focus on resolving conflicts and ensuring the plan is the best plan for the whole organization.

In addition, small teams of planners or larger teams working on shared tracks can reserve portions of the overall plan that they manage and seamlessly merge individual contributions to the master plan, significantly improving collaboration without the threat of conflicting or lost data.

As operational data, such as flights flown and maintenance performed, is loaded into the system, IFS Fleet Planner automatically identifies the resulting impacts on facilities, resources, capital and expenses required to implement the plan.

Combining these elements means that the changes can be incorporated in real time into the master plan and the plan itself can be published across the organization, also in real time, to ensure all stakeholders are always working with the most up-to-date plan.

Real time alerts instantly warn the user if an action breaks compliance or a pre-defined operational rule, such as an overdue visit, or, for example, if a track cannot support the type of work required in a visit. This allows planners to adapt immediately and focus on resolving any conflicts in the right way.

How can users benefit from the visibility offered by the solution?

The main user interface (UI) of IFS Fleet Planner consists of an intuitive, interactive Gantt that consolidates planning activities into a single view, eliminating the need to flip back and forth between data sheets or screens, allowing users to click and drag visits and see the impacts of their changes immediately.

Being fully dynamic, the user can zoom in and out in terms of time scale just by scrolling, never having to navigate away from the main screen. Color coding, visual cues, and powerful filtering all contribute to making the UI intuitive, efficient, easy and enjoyable to use. It is, in fact, the aspect of our solution about which we get the most positive feedback from our users. All the information they need is right there.

As mentioned earlier, the visual alerts and cues enable multiple planners to immediately deal with conflicts, out of compliance visits, new tasks, changes to the fleet profile, or any other issue that may arise, affecting the plan, quickly and efficiently, thereby saving time and effort, and ensuring the best outcome.

How does the solution examine the impact of key strategic decisions across an organization?

From a strategic planning perspective, IFS Fleet Planner allows planners to incorporate potential strategic decisions, such as fleet growth, capacity expansion, new acquisitions and changing operational models, into a potential plan.

The KPIs, such as cost, yield, and utilization are automatically calculated as the new potential plans are generated and the previously mentioned plan comparison tools then allow the planners to analyze the impacts of those strategic decisions to the maintenance plan.

Should those strategic decisions be executed, the corresponding potential plan can then be published, thereby automatically becoming the new master plan.

Can you tell us about some of the other customers IFS is working with in the Asia -Pacific region?

IFS on the whole supports hundreds of customers across the Asia-Pacific region. IFS focuses on five key industries of which Aerospace and Defense (A&D) has generally been our largest. Within A&D, we focus on six sub-industries:

  • Airlines and air operators
  • Aviation support providers
  • A&D MRO providers
  • Defense contractors, and
  • Defense forces

We support blue-chip customers across Asia-Pac, in each of these sub-industries including multi-faceted organizations like ST Engineering.

If we focus solely on major airlines, we have many long-standing customers in the region such as Qantas and China Airlines. In fact, although China Airlines originally deployed our full footprint aviation maintenance solution, they were also the second ever customer to deploy the IFS Fleet Planner solution that JAL Engineering Co has now selected.

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