With 90% of maintenance records paper-based, the Aviation industry is struggling to go digital

A commercial airliner typically will pass through five or six owners or operators between initial delivery and retirement. With that much movement, the risk increases that at least some maintenance documentation will be lost. The reason is paper.

Paper accounts for about 90% of all commercial airliner maintenance records globally, according to officials at maintenance and leasing solutions for a popular airliner. “There are literally millions of boxes of paper-based documents, which would circle the Earth 25 times if laid end to end,” he explains. “For now, the MRO industry is just in the early stages of transitioning toward electronic formats.” Records for legacy aircraft are highly susceptible to missing paper maintenance documents, according to project manager for digital business innovation at one of the airlines in Germany. “Looking at our experiences with numerous lease-return projects, we always identify missing, incomplete or inaccurate documentation,” he reports.

While one of the official at DMG Aviation says some missing records can be found by contacting former owners or MROs, he cautions that without supporting MRO documents, components will need to be pulled and “re-exchanged” or repairs repeated, resulting in unplanned expense and delay within the lease-return process.

Given the huge amount of paper-based documentation, notes Deepak Sahu, “it is highly probable” that the maintenance history will not be complete, as not all relevant documents can be found. “Sticking to paper-based processes, operators must invest significant effort in managing their records and continuously proving they are in regulatory compliance,” he says. We at Shelves Tech feel contented to remove most of this paper clutter from DMG aviation office. We converted their entire pile of boxes and heaps of paper lying unattended at their maintenance office into digital copies. We have created the mirror process of their existing physical management process so their people don’t feel awry while searching the files.