3 Jul 2020
Maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) organizations are critical to keeping aircraft safe and flightworthy. Their work requires constant collaboration and consultation between engineers on the shop floor and the airline carriers and aircraft owners they serve. Industrial-grade 5G-powered private wireless connectivity can give MRO organizations new capabilities to strengthen operational oversight, maintain business continuity, and achieve new levels of efficiency and productivity.
So, what does that look like in the real world? Our recent work with Lufthansa Technik (LHT), one of the leading providers of MRO services for civil aircraft around the world, illustrates a few key applications that could transform the way MRO organizations do their work from now on.
Inspecting airplane engines, the 5G way
Earlier this year, Nokia helped LHT deploy a private 5G network at its facility in Hamburg, Germany, to allow LHT’s civil aviation customers to participate in remote inspections of their engine parts and components.
Previously, LHT’s customers would have had to travel from their home countries to Hamburg to observe and approve inspections whenever their aircraft engines were serviced or overhauled by LHT mechanics and engineers. Today, “virtual table inspections” let them oversee testing remotely via 4K wireless cameras and a hyper-fast video link over LHT’s private 5G network. They can make joint decisions with LHT about the inspected components without having to be on-site — saving time and money while improving operational efficiency on the shop floor.
How private is this network? LHT manages the network internally, “LH-Technik” is listed as the network provider on handset displays and the network can be accessed only by LHT staff.
The virtual table inspection was intended to be a proof-of-concept research project, but with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting international travel, it quickly proved its real-world benefits as remote inspections became the only option for LHT. With the already given success of this project, LHT is now considering adding other use-cases, and more hangars at their site. With this project, LHT also plays a leading role in the introduction of 5G across other divisions in the group.
The right connectivity for dynamic industrial environments
When streaming high-quality video, uplink speeds are very demanding. 5G brings the high bandwidths, and low latencies needed to fully support this application.
Private wireless offers substantial benefits over Wi-Fi. In a typical MRO shop, engineers often move from the engine-stand to another part of the shop floor, and the poor handover of Wi-Fi will simply stall the video-stream. The shops are full of metal equipment and machinery, causing interference with Wi-Fi, limiting propagation. 5G however, offers data transmission at up to 10 Gbps and overcomes the handover and interference limitations of Wi-Fi.
A private wireless network built on 5G connectivity can be adopted by MRO organizations in practically any industry because they all share many of the same challenges. Most are looking to boost productivity in their shops. Virtual inspections can save time and money, help ensure business continuity, and assist industries as they work to meet carbon-neutral and sustainability goals.
How Nokia brings private wireless networks to MRO organizations
At Nokia, we’re simplifying the deployment of LTE and 5G private wireless network connectivity with Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC). The DAC’s plug-and-play connectivity scales easily from small local deployments to multiple large-system sites. It is managed through a single web portal and can be implemented with little or no impact on current operations. DAC gives MRO organizations full control over the creation and management of their private wireless networks, allowing them to configure and adapt their connectivity to precisely meet their needs.
4.9G and 5G private wireless provides superior capabilities, TCO, and return on investment compared to Wi-Fi.
The adoption of 4.9G and 5G private wireless networks is starting to take off: Nokia signed 40 new customers in the last quarter of 2019 and now has 150+ large enterprise customers deploying private wireless networks in their industrial premises around the world. The innovative work in the MRO space, championed by LHT, is just one example of how private wireless offers substantial benefits in challenging times — and demonstrates that the innovative applications and the benefits of 5G are endless.
To learn more about Nokia and private wireless for the aviation industry please visit us here.
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About Thomas Rehberg
As the head of Nokia’s Airports & Airlines business, Thomas focus is on providing digitalization strategies and solutions for our Aviation customers.
Thomas brings 30 Years of experience in telecommunications and networking technologies. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, Thomas’ affinity for aviation began at the outset of his career while working for Lufthansa, introducing some of the first wireless networks for Lufthansa’s airport operations.
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