Air Canada to overhaul maintenance software

When Air Canada technicians work on airplanes, they use several different legacy software packages that have been installed over the last 15 years. The systems don’t always talk to each other or the finance and inventory systems, so the Montreal-based airline has hired Mxi Technologies Ltd. of Ottawa to replace it.

The companies announced this week Air Canada is scheduled to start installing Mxi’s Maintenix software next year. The companies did not disclose the total cost, though the contract is worth “multi millions of dollars,” said Hans Downer, Mxi’s executive vice-president for sales and support. Maintenix is designed to let maintenance, engineering and finance divisions share information, and Mxi claims this reduces repetitive tasks.

“One of the benefits of the Mxi product is, all of this is integrated into a single system, gives us a single view and a single planning mechanism for our entire fleet,” said Steve Bogie, Air Canada’s program director for the software implementation. “It gets us off that legacy platform and puts us on to a Web platform that we can deploy to all of our stations around the world.”

Maintenix uses “n-tier” architecture that separates the business logic part from the database and from the user interface.

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It has integration adapters, which are sold separately and lets the software share information with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, plus flight operations applications, general ledger, supply chain optimization and human resources systems. It includes workflow functions and can be supported by a third-party application service provider.

Air Canada plans to hire a company to host its implementation, though it has not chosen a provider, Bogie said.

Its six modules are maintenance engineering, line maintenance, heavy maintenance, shop maintenance, materials management and finance.

Air Canada is using all six modules, though the heavy maintenance, shop maintenance and finance modules will only be implemented partially. This is because a separate contractor, Air Canada Technical Services (ACTS), also maintains Air Canada planes. ACTS has been spun off as a separate company and is not a subsidiary, said the airline’s media relations manager, John Reber.

Bogie said Air Canada plans to implement the full set of maintenance engineering, line maintenance and materials management modules.

The maintenance engineering module is used to establish rules and users can pre-populate the data. They can also set up a “logical configuration,” which describes the aircraft components, part relationships and compatibility rules.

The line maintenance module includes a control feature designed to track minimum equipment list deferrals and lets users package different maintenance items. It also has a line station planning application, which is designed to schedule maintenance and allocate work, based on where the aircraft are scheduled to be, plus the capabilities of the line station facilities.

“With all this information in one spot you can now schedule the right people at the right place at the right time, with the right materials at the right place at the right time,” Downer said. “We have real time access not only to the inventory updates but also to the flight schedules of aircraft coming in.”

Maintenix can also exchange data with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and financial software. Air Canada plans to link Maintenix up with its existing PeopleSoft finance and human resource applications, Bogie said.

“We make sure we have the right technicians with the right endorsements working on the right projects or for scheduling purposes,” Bogie said. “We don’t want to schedule work on to a station where we don’t have the proper qualifications to accomplish it.”

The supply chain component will let Air Canada track inventory, and the software also updates the general ledger, he added. Maintenix can work on both Red Hat Linuxand Windows, Downer said.

Air Canada plans to install it on an Oracle rack, and it has both the Red Hat Linux and Windows 2003 operating systems, Bogie said.

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