THE DEVELOPMENT OF AFTERMARKET parts specialist AirLiance Materials could be compared to that of a child. For the first years, parents watch the child carefully. But as it grows, the more-confident offspring seeks out others to broaden its horizons.
When airline alliances first were formed in the late 1990s, joint purchasing revolved mainly around the areas of marketing and customer service and rarely produced significant savings. In some cases, the purchases were more trouble than they were worth, alliance executives remember.
WHEN IT SURFACED YEARS AGO, radio frequency identification technology was heralded as a breakthrough tool in supply chain management. But while manufacturers and users continue to refine and test it through pilot programs, RFID still is not considered ready for prime time, interviews with the technology's experts indicate. Cost of implementation, resistance to switching from existing technology and competing budgetary demands have slowed its adoption by OEMs, airlines and maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities.
IS IT SAFE? WILL IT MITIGATE A
looming pilot shortage? Will it reduce training costs over time? These are but a few of the questions raised by ICAO's new Multi-Crew Pilot License, an alternative method of training air transport pilots by relying far more heavily on simulators than on actual flying time and greatly compressing the amount of time it takes to train an airline pilot (ATW, 10/05, p. 51). For example, under the MPL the applicant may spend as few as 60-70 hr. at the controls of an actual aircraft.
Integrating the information technology systems of America West Airlines and US Airways, carriers with vastly differing operating methodologies and cultures, may be a watershed event for IT vendors and airline users alike.
US Airways Senior VP and CIO Joe Beery says the merged airline is an industry "pioneer" owing to the noticeable differences between the large, inflexible legacy IT systems of US Airways and the more nimble in-house applications developed by America West, which Beery joined in 1999 from Motorola Semiconductor.
Maintenance, repair and overhaul organizations are investing millions of dollars in IT systems to manage their operations. Those facilities equipped with the latest software are far more likely to get the work than those without IT.
The looming shortage of commercial pilots has pushed the training solutions business into hyperdrive. Based on estimated growth of the world jet fleet to more than 5,000 aircraft by 2024, Boeing's Alteon Training subsidiary calculates that the world's airlines will need 17,000 additional pilots each year simply to handle new aircraft arriving over the next 20 years.
Since 9/11, governments, airlines, freight forwarders
and shippers have struggled with ways to improve air cargo security without impinging too heavily upon the flow
The Transportation Security Administration's soon-to-be issued rule expanding air cargo security throughout the supply chain and existing rules only now being implemented across the European Union are intended to strengthen barriers against terrorism. But the industry remains concerned about whether the new rules and the introduction of costly explosive detection systems will be more trouble than they're worth.
Despite signs that the worst may be over for the airline industry, providers of maintenance, repair and overhaul services remain under intense pressure to reduce the cost of engine servicing and improve turnaround times.
If ever a carrier needed a tool to help it better manage aircraft in the terminal environment, it is FedEx Express. Beginning at 2:48 a.m. Monday-Friday, it dispatches 8-12
aircraft every 6 min. from Memphis International Airport.
of air traffic to the near-saturation levels that existed prior to 9/11-with virtually no corresponding increase in airport capacity-means that congestion and delays are on the rise again.
Thus it is no surprise that airlines are looking for information technology solutions to manage aircraft better in the airport environment.
A number of IT providers are offering integrated packages to do just that. Sensis Corp. and Preston Aviation Solutions, a Boeing subsidiary, are two major players.
Does radio frequency identification technology meet the 2-10 rule coined by Microsofts Bill Gates, which states that most new innovations are hyped endlessly during the first two years but take a decade to become truly useful? Depends whom you talk to.
Sabre Holdings Corp.'s acquisition three years ago of David R. Bornemann Associates, a privately held developer of Windows-based software solutions for smaller airlines, has proven to be both a savvy business decision and a challenge for the company's airline software products and services division, Sabre Airline Solutions.
Predictive maintenance solutions for aircraft and engines may be as common someday as yield management systems, but today's cost-conscious environment hampers investment in any product that can't offer an immediate payback.
Carriers using the software freely admit the difficulty of quantifying the actual savings in reduced delays or cancellations and improved dispatch reliability. Yet customers with whom ATW spoke confirm its value.
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