The U.S. Air Force wants computers to predict when its cargo planes and tankers are going to break. Some of its planes even have the necessary equipment installed — but service leaders can’t turn it on unless they fork out more money to manufacturers.
That’s because even though the Air Force owns the planes, the rights to the diagnostic information they produce is controlled by manufacturers Boeing and Lockheed Martin and engine makers Pratt & Whitney and General Electric.
“I want to own the data,” Gen. Carlton “Dewey” Everhart, head of Air Mobility Command, said Tuesday during a press conference at an Air Force Association-sponsored conference in the Washington, D.C., suburbs.
“Lockheed, Boeing, [and] everybody else, have a say-so in that,” the general said. “It’s just I want to be a shared partner with them.”
Everhart — who oversees more than 1,200 cargo planes and tankers — said some airlines are already using this kind of predictive maintenance technology, which is built into many new commercial aircraft. It’s installed on some Air Force planes as well‚ including the C-130 and C-17 airlifters and the new KC-46 tanker.
But putting it to use? That’ll cost you.
“Our airplanes have the capability right now,” Everhart said. “All I have to do is put it on contract. We have the capability; we just didn’t buy the capability.”
He said he plans to start putting money toward the technology, but it might take a few years before he can cobble together enough cash to get the equipment and hardware so the planes can start passing real-time info back to the ground. (end of excerpt)
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