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Sunday, May 1, 2005

Commercial

European MROs Explore New Maintenance Concepts

Formed for the purpose of reducing aircraft maintenance costs to the point where it can reduce airline operating costs by 50 percent, a new European project has been brought into being. Called TATEM, which stands for technologies and techniques for new maintenance concepts, the 40 million Euro, four-year research project was created by the European Union under its Sixth Framework Program. It brings together a consortium of 60 contractors from 12 countries across Europe, Australia, and Israel, with the project being led by Smiths Aerospace Electronic Systems of Cheltenham, England.

With its base in the knowledge that aircraft maintenance is an expensive endeavor that can account for as much as 20 percent of an airline's costs, the project was set up to investigate methods for reducing maintenance costs on both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. The objective of the project is to ensure that European aerospace remains competitive in the design and support of current and next-generation aircraft. The ultimate goal of the project is to demonstrate the means to achieve a 20 percent reduction in airline operating costs within ten years and a 50 percent reduction over 20 years.

Explaining the project, Martin Worsfold, TATEM project director at Smiths Aerospace, said it will research maintenance philosophies, technologies, and techniques to develop new approaches for maintaining aircraft structures, avionics, utilities and undercarriages, and engines. The program will investigate all aspects of on-aircraft and off-aircraft maintenance issues.

TATEM's task is to evaluate: maintenance-free avionics; signal-processing techniques; novel onboard sensor technology; diagnostics methods; prognostics methods; decision-support techniques; and human interface technologies.

Launched in 2004, the first phase of the project has been completed, this being to understand the strengths and weaknesses of current maintenance practices. The next phase will be to develop the requirements for future maintenance practices, and this will take two years. For more information, contact Serge Vallet at Eurocopter, Serge.vallet@eurocopter.com -- By Roy Allen

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