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26 Oct 2022

tlmNexus Damage and Repair Tracker (DaRT)

tlmNexus Damage and Repair Tracker (DaRT)
The tlmNexus Customer Experience team has installed, and is now supporting the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (RAF BBMF) Damage and Repair Tracker (DaRT), achieving exceptional levels of customer satisfaction and success.

The BBMF mission requires it to operate its priceless fleet of iconic military aircraft safely throughout the UK, between May and September each year. Maintaining airworthiness of aircraft that were designed and built over 75 years ago, is a significant engineering and management challenge, especially given their frequent participation in the most public national events such as Trooping the Colour.

Whilst BBMF aircraft now fly sorties at a significantly lower stress level than originally designed for, like all aircraft they remain susceptible to damage resulting from ‘wear and tear’, such as taxiing, take-off and landing. And, though more serious events such as bird-strike, collision in the hangar or dispersal area are less likely, whenever they do occur it is essential that all damage, repair and outcomes are accurately captured, recorded, actioned and archived for the life-time of each aircraft.

What does DaRT do and why is it a game changer?

In 2021 MOD DE&S awarded tlmNexus a contract, to augment RAF BBMF’s paper-based damage and repair management processes with a web-enabled management system. Initially, this would support the BBMF Spitfire aircraft, before being rolled across the Lancaster, Hurricane and remainder of the BBMF aircraft fleet.

The Company’s answer was to implement its well proven DaRT system; this had already been operational with Eurofighter Typhoon since 2018, was fully compliant with MOD security standards and approved to operate on the MOD network.  

As well as providing a ‘one-time entry’, paper-free assurance and audit trail for all damage and repair, DaRT has a wide range of additional capabilities that previously would have required the user to have multiple and fully coordinated management systems. The DaRT system fully supports operational availability and readiness, production of airworthiness reports, safety assessments and trend analysis, and is compliant with Military Aviation Authority (MAA) audit and UK national archiving standards.

These in-built capabilities not only reduce the reliance on paper-based processes, they also provide the MOD and RAF with the potential for improved use of scarce specialist management and engineering resources, while significantly improving the safety and assurance levels across all elements of the BBMF and its associated support systems.

DaRT rollout plan for BBMF

Ahead of the rollout of DaRT to BBMF, the Customer Experience team completed a ‘lessons learned’ review of the Eurofighter Typhoon rollout, which highlighted the benefit of integrating a bespoke customer success plan into the onboarding process. The BBMF customer success plan set out specific outcomes and benefits, supported by a roadmap with defined milestones, success criteria and measures of success.

While an initial objective of the plan was to reduce the time to achieve the first identification of recorded damage by BBMF operators, and thereby quickly build user confidence in the DaRT system, BBMF very much welcomed the Customer Success team’s approach and recognised the longer-term value and benefits of defined and measurable outcomes, and of tracking these on a regular basis. The plan included a traffic light review process that tracked BBMF progress against agreed customer health criteria with targets for individual BBMF health criteria up to one year in the future. This was very much a jointly developed and agreed delivery strategy and a ‘one-team’ approach.

What are the key benefits of DaRT and the Customer Success plan to BBMF?

The successful rollout of DaRT to BBMF has identified a broad range of benefits with the most significant being safety-focused. 

While DaRT has not fully replaced the RAF’s paper-based management processes, the DaRT system is quickly able to capture and accurately file detailed legacy data and link it to the latest platform status. The import of legacy data for BBMF platforms, many of which have been operating for over 60 years, is not a trivial undertaking, so the decision was taken to restrict legacy data to that originating from the last Major/Depth servicing to present. The import of legacy data is a ongoing project.

The collection, analysis and import of this legacy data will significantly contribute to improved airworthiness assurance and structural integrity for individual aircraft. At the DaRT system operator level, remote user operation is enabled by login secure access with data secured and backed up on the MOD network. Data can be managed and analysed by multiple remote users, a significant benefit during this recent period of COVID, and can be made available to all critical stakeholders to support air operation and other management decisions.

 

DaRT’s capability to combine legacy and current data to inform platform-focused trend analysis has also resulted in improved damage prevention and the provision of accurate, assured data to support intelligence-based decision making, focused on safety of operation, and minimising the risk to life. Looking ahead, it seems likely the RAF and BBMF will gain operational and financial benefits from DaRT, given its potential for significantly reducing the use of paper-based processes.

In conclusion, the rollout of DaRT by tlmNexus to BBMF is a highly positive story that clearly demonstrates what can be achieved when the Company and the client agree a ‘one-team’, success-focused approach. The determination of the Customer Experience team to learn the lessons from earlier DaRT contracts resulted in the development of a rollout strategy and plan that fully addressed the BBMF’s technical requirements and their user expectations. The resultant Customer Success plan and the agreement with BBMF as to how the rollout should be measured against challenging metrics and reviews, sets a high-quality benchmark for our competitors, while confirming that tlmNexus continues to honour its role as a recipient of the Queen’s Award to Industry. 

Photo credit: Andy Peacock

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