Boeing Joins UK Digital Aviation Project, Will Research Digital Maintenance

Cranfield University

Boeing has formally joined the Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) at Cranfield University in the UK and will participate in project areas such as digital maintenance repair and operations once it commences from summer 2020.

The £65 million ($79.8 million) initiative was announced in July 2018 and aims to grow the UK’s research into digital aviation technology, which includes an experimental airport terminal and a hangar of the future fully instrumented for advanced digital maintenance repair and operations.

Specific areas of research undertaken by DARTeC will include the integration of drones into civilian airspace, utilizing new technologies to increase the airport efficiencies, using data communication infrastructures to better develop safe airspaces and increasing the reliability and availability of aircraft utilizing self-sensing and self-repair technologies.

The airframe OEM enters a partnership which includes airline trade body the International Air Transport Association, electrical systems manufacturer Thales and in-flight connectivity specialist Inmarsat, among others.

Although new to the DARTeC project, Boeing’s ties with Cranfield go back more than 25 years, with both parties cooperating on several research and technology-driven initiatives which have included the development of new aircraft concepts and studies into passenger behavior, cabin refurbishment and management processes.

Cranfield has also hosted Boeing’s center of excellence in Integrated Vehicle Health Management, known as the IVHM Centre, which is also part of the DARTeC as a founding member back in 2017. The IVHM Centre aims to use system data generated from vehicles such as cars and aircraft to support operational decisions and optimize maintenance.

James Pozzi

As Aviation Week's MRO Editor EMEA, James Pozzi covers the latest industry news from the European region and beyond. He also writes in-depth features on the commercial aftermarket for Inside MRO.