Air Canada/IBM Develop Maintenance “e-Toolbox”

As part of their ongoing strategic partnership,
Air Canada and IBM have jointly developed a wireless “e-Toolbox” system that
facilitates aircraft maintenance by providing line mechanics wireless access
to electronic documents and the Air Canada maintenance systems. By using a
combination of ruggedized and wearable devices line maintenance mechanics
access a customized Web portal, putting key maintenance data at their
fingertips while working on an aircraft, preparing work for an inbound
aircraft or trouble shooting outbound flights.

Responsible for routine, “quick-fix” items such as tire changes and audio
system adjustments while aircraft are on the ground, line maintenance
mechanics often have to make numerous trips back and forth to the shop. They
typically have to scour as many as ten different sources to get the
information necessary to complete their work without leaving the aircraft,
such as maintenance and troubleshooting manuals, parts availability
information and arrival/departure data.

Noting that labor is one of the largest costs in airframe maintenance,
Robin Wohnsigl, President, Air Canada Technical Services said, “The wireless e-
Toolbox system offers improved productivity and a quicker turnaround time for
aircraft undergoing maintenance which ultimately leads to improved on-time
performance. During test trials this system has greatly reduced the number of
visits to the central maintenance office to access computers. It also saves
time by allowing mechanics to enter reports electronically rather than
manually on paper.”

Air Canada has successfully conducted a trial of the new e-Toolbox system
on its A320 fleet at its Montreal Dorval heavy maintenance base. The airline
is currently assessing the feasibility of implementing the e-Toolbox on an
ongoing basis.

“Given the current industry environment, cost savings are critical for an
airline`s bottom line,” said Marty Salfen, IBM`s managing director for
Air Canada. “IBM and Air Canada`s collective information technology and
airline industry expertise were key to the development of this system which
addresses the need for speed and convenience as well as cost savings.”


IBM and Air Canada designed the wireless e-Toolbox application to support
all the relevant maintenance, repair and operations data from Air Canada`s
legacy maintenance systems onto a Web Application Server. This information is
then carried via an IBM HTTP Server into a Web Portal and delivered over a
secured 802.11b wireless LAN to the mechanic`s ruggedized laptop.

Air Canada and IBM plan to market the wireless e-Toolbox application to
other airlines. This e-Toolbox application is the second initiative jointly
developed as part of the IBM/Air Canada strategic partnership; earlier this
year the two companies announced that they had jointly developed and
implemented in Toronto, a wireless, mobile kiosk designed to provide enhanced
check-in capabilities for its agents.