Big data for small aircraft

Comprehensive maintenance awareness in an app

It's a big idea inspired by a surprisingly big bill: Can a light piston aircraft owner have the same situational awareness for maintenance matters, and insight on when to expect major maintenance, that the big boys do?

A new tool for tracking maintenance, regulatory compliance, and practically anything else on related to aircraft operation uses cloud-based data and a dashboard-style display to provide deep insight into the status of the machine at a glance.

Crewchief Systems created Crewchief GA to fill a niche described as aircraft asset intelligence. “What that means is we are keeping the data for an aircraft together with the aircraft throughout its service life,” said Crewchief Systems co-founder and CEO Aaron de Zafra.

The app provides a green-yellow-red dashboard display for awareness about items. It can track common calendar-based items like pitot-static checks, transponder tests, 100-hour inspections, oil changes, or any custom parameter the subscriber wants. The app prioritizes items that need attention sooner in its dynamic information display.

The data compilation starts at intake. When you sign up, the company provides a team of A&Ps and other professionals to comb through the aircraft logs, entering the information into the digital aircraft profile. There is no charge for the profile setup. According to de Zafra, discrepancies that require attention have been found in each airplane on the platform during the intake process.

The platform is licensed by tail number, and anyone a subscriber authorizes can add to the data included in the airplane profile. Crewchief Systems has a growing network of affiliate repair stations that use the platform. The affiliates discounts on select aircraft maintenance for subscribers.

The concept of bringing big data to small airplanes was inspired by de Zafra's own desire for enhanced  awareness of with what was going on with his Mooney after a nasty surprise at the maintenance shop. “It was really born from me, in managing my own personal aircraft and, quite frankly, being surprised when I [had] to come up with a $35,000 ticket for a new engine,” he said.

In addition to long term tracking, de Zafra wants pilots to use it as part of every preflight: “Our platform is really meant to be a point of preflight situational awareness with every flight.”

The service is subscription based, and available in monthly plans or yearly options that offer a 15-percent cost reduction. Turbine plans are available only yearly. Plans start at $49 per month or $499 per year for piston singles.

For more information, see the website.
Sierra Harrop

Sierra Harrop

Producer/Videojournalist—AOPA Live®
Sierra Harrop has been an AOPA Live producer/videojournalist since 2012. She is a private pilot currently working on her instrument rating.
Topics: Aircraft Maintenance, Ownership

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