Lufthansa Technik plans to start installing its new Electronic Technical Logbook (eTLB) on the entire fleet of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam-based Vietjet's aircraft. The move comes just one month after Lufthansa completed the fleet-wide rollout of its latest Aviatar application with Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air.
The project with Wizz Air represents a “milestone” for the eTLB mainly because it received the approval of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), noted Dajana Kunz, product lead for the system at Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg, Germany. “We hope that the EASA approval of Wizz Air’s implementation of the Aviatar eTLB system will make it easier for airlines that fly under a national authority that adheres to the EASA regulations to receive the approval from their relevant authority,” she told AIN. “Of course, sometimes national regulators have additional or country-specific requirements but the EASA approval [for Wizz Air] is a milestone for us.”
Every airline that seeks to replace the traditional manual and paper-based technical log must complete a tech log page for each flight as a legal record of the aircraft’s technical status and journey; a digital system must obtain the approval of the associated processes from the responsible authority—usually, the national civil aviation authority. In Wizz Air’s case, EASA serves as that authority because the carrier years ago opted to make use of the European agency’s expanded competence and fly under its safety oversight. (EASA scrutinizes full compliance with all applicable safety standards and certifies on behalf of the national authority where an EU-licensed air carrier’s AOC is based.) The aircraft that will transfer from Wizz Air’s AOC in Hungary to its newly obtained AOC in Malta will fall automatically under the EASA's eTLB approval, Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi confirmed to AIN. Conversely, because the UK no longer is a member of the EU and EASA, the UK CAA must separately approve processes of the Aviatar technical logbook for Wizz Air's aircraft based in the UK. The same applies to the company’s aircraft flying for Wizz Air Abu Dhabi in the UAE.
While Lufthansa Group participated in the initial development and testing of Lufthansa Technik’s eTLB, Wizz Air emerged as the launch customer. The company seemed a natural choice because of its drive to digitalize its entire operations and because it already used Aviatar—Lufthansa Technik’s cloud-based platform for a wide range of products and services such as predictive maintenance.
Aviatar users can easily integrate the eTLB because it already captures several datapoints. But “the Aviatar digital technical logbook is a standalone application that can be used in each cockpit and on all aircraft types—business jets as well as regional or long-range passenger and cargo airliners,” stressed Kunz. “ The solution works with any hardware, such as a tablet, smartphone, or desktop computer running Apple or Windows software, she said.
Deployment of the eTLB requires training at both ends of the system, but Lufthansa Tecknik ensured the interface “is easy and intuitive to use,” noted Kunz. “We are getting quite good feedback on that.”
Wizz Air has reported positive first results of the deployment of the digital pilot-to-maintenance collaboration application on its EU fleet of more than 140 Airbus A320s and A321s. “We already experience data quality, reliability, and airworthiness control enhancement supporting our technical and operational performance,” said Diogo Reu, head of engineering and maintenance at Wizz Air and project lead for the airline’s Go Digital project. For instance, calls to Wizz Air's maintenance control center dropped by more than 25 percent following the launch of the application.
Aviatar’s technical logbook offers prefilled text blocks and automated input masks, which allow pilots to record technical anomalies of the aircraft in real-time, thereby reducing manual efforts by up to 50 percent while ensuring data quality as well as transparency, said the company. Real-time data availability and a direct connection to the airline’s maintenance and engineering system, ensures maintenance on arrival and decreases turnaround times and costs. On average, the system cuts closing times of defects in half.
Despite the many advantages an electronic tech log offers compared with the paper-based process of cockpit writeups and maintenance follow-ups, fewer than 5 percent of the world's airlines have equipped their fleets with a digital solution, estimates Kunz.
The trend seems to be accelerating, however. In recent months, carriers such as SAS Scandinavian Airlines and India's Vistara have announced that they will adopt electronic logbook software and selected Ultramain Systems to provide it.
Operating as part of the Lufthansa Group does not mean an affiliated airline automatically will implement the Aviatar eTLB. Air Dolomiti, the Italian airline of the Lufthansa Group, and Swiss International Airlines use Boeing’s Crossmos eTLB software. Meanwhile, a Lufthansa Technik sister company—Swiss AviationSoftware (Swiss-AS)—has begun developing its own eTLB. Over the past few months, Swiss-AS signed several AMOS customers to the eTLB development partners group, such as El Al Israel Airlines, Luxair, and the Philippines’s Cebu Air. The company expects to deliver its eTLB solution in the fourth quarter of 2023.
“We are in advanced talks with several airlines across the world, including some Lufthansa Group airlines,” confirmed Kunz, while declining the reveal names. As Aviatar customers, Eurowings and Austrian Airlines will likely expand their Aviatar portfolio with the new eTLB. “We see a high demand for the electronic technical log and we anticipate that at least the large airlines will implement the digital solution,” asserted Kunz. “We would like to become the main player in the eTLB market, of course.”