GE Shores Up Savings For Aviation With a Data Lake

August 12, 2014 Stacey Schneider

featured-flight-efficiencyGeneral Electric continues to blaze the trail toward the Industrial Internet with almost unbelievable success. Born from the success of social media sites that have paved the way to deal with large scale data in real-time, GE’s vision is paving the way forward on how we will use data from the predicted 17 billion machines that you will interact with daily in the next 10 years. They want to harvest that data, analyze it and make those machines smarter. Make them save money. Make them save you time. Make them prevent accidents. Make them save lives.

This week, GE shares the staggering success they have had with the airline industry using the Data Lake approach, powered by Pivotal Big Data Suite technologies. Using its Flight Efficiency Services, GE is redefining how aviation performs maintenance.

Right now, GE does thousands of overhauls for jet engines every day. Traditionally, they had to wait for the plane to land, and have a team of live engineers assemble the workscope for what is needed to complete the service. For the 25 airlines buying into GE’s vision, that workscope is now digital. In the past year, GE was able to transform terabytes of full flight data into actionable insight that has provided measurable cost savings of 10x. Also, by analyzing the data in a data lake they were able to cut the analysis time from weeks to days or minutes. In at least one scenario, they were able to compress a process that took 30 days for ingest, structure, integrate and process to a mere 20 minutes.

They’ve done this repeatedly, churning through information from 3.4 million miles of flights by 24 airlines that are using GE jet engines, and figuring out things like possible defects 2,000 times as faster than they could before.

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This is a major step for the future of aviation, and one that will help each of us to fly safer, while the airlines improve costs significantly.

While the telemetry and data science behind this is very sophisticated, the principles behind the idea are very understandable. Imagine if while the plane was in flight, it could tell us what maintenance or repairs will be needed for it to fly safely again. Or, more importantly to the CFO of the airline, the exact amount of maintenance could be done to ensure that the engines are running with maximum fuel efficiency. If we had that information before the plane lands, the team could be prepared with all the right parts, equipment and experts on the ground to service it immediately. This could save valuable hours that the plane could be in service, as well as lower fuel costs.

Today, the analysis still happens once the plane is on the ground, but it is far more precise and effective than anything they’ve done before, and its making big impacts to the bottom line. For example, customers like AirAsia are realizing a savings of more than one percent of their fuel bill each year.

While 1% may seem small, for big industry like aviation, small savings translate into big dollars. For airlines, saving hours on the ground is only one place this can improve savings. Better maintenance means engines perform better, saving fuel. To give you an idea of exactly how big those dollars are, a 1% savings of fuel translates to $30 billion in savings for the industry.

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GE has been working on similar innovations for other industries as well, showing us just 9 months ago how they plan to save power, aviation, rail and healthcare over $20 billion a year, boosting GDP by a whopping $10-15 trillion, and shepherding in a slew of data science skills into the US job market. Their advances for aviation this week are remarkable, but what it signals for big data across the Industrial Internet is really the game changer here.

For more information on GE’s plans and Pivotal products check out the following links:

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