HM16: Rolls-Royce and Microsoft boost aircraft engine practices

Sean Dudley
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley on 26 April 2016
HM16: Rolls-Royce and Microsoft boost aircraft engine practices

Rolls-Royce and Microsoft are helping airline companies improve their passengers’ experience and boost efficiency through a new collaboration.

As a leading company in the field of aircraft engines, Rolls Royce revolutionised the industry with its TotalCare programme in the 1990s. This saw airlines pay Rolls-Royce for the hours they were able to fly, rather than for repairs, helping to align airlines’ goals with the engine maker’s – specifically having a plane in the air as much as possible. 

While 90% of the carriers that use Rolls-Royce engines today are signed up for the TotalCare programme, the company knew that it needed to continually minimise costly ground disruptions to airlines’ operations.

The company wanted to move beyond monitoring engine health and heading off problems, to a model that proactively helps airlines improve the efficiency of their equipment use.

To help achieve this, Rolls-Royce is integrating Microsoft capabilities into its new Service Solutions programme. This will enable airlines to analyse the vast amounts of data that is created during each flight, and create ways to reduce fuel use, enhance maintenance and improve retention of the engine asset value.

Modern aircraft engines feature hundreds of sensors and signals – each of which transmit gigabytes of data during each flight. Rolls-Royce monitors 50,000 flights every month – a figure which is only likely to grow – and covers the processing, analysis and storage of terabytes of data across the engine fleet.

To make sense of this data – as well as weather conditions, air traffic control requirements and route restrictions – Rolls-Royce is now using Microsoft’s Azure cloud-based services, Azure Stream Analytics, Machine Learning and Power BI.

This will help Rolls-Royce make recommendations around how best to use aircraft engines, and enable performance reports during flights. This will allow mechanics to be prepared for repairs as soon as the aircraft is on the ground.

Using data analytics, Rolls-Royce will be able to help transform aircraft efficiency, enabling customers to save money and improve their operations.

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