Dependability analysis of military aircraft fleet performance in a lifecycle perspective
Abstract: Today's highly advanced technological flying platforms, such as aircraft, helicopters and Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), are characterised by a high degree of complexity. Simultaneously, they are used in different operational and mission profiles, and also in multiple operational environments and geographical settings. In addition, the interaction between major stakeholders, such as operators and support providers, has been drastically changed by concepts such as Performance-Based Logistics (PBL), where the support providers' commitment increases through the offering of availability performance at a fixed price. These changes put new and stringent requirements on dependability analysis to make efficient use of field data (e.g. generated by built-in tests, operation and maintenance) to sustain, improve and predict the availability performance of flying platform fleets. The purpose of the research presented in this thesis is to explore and describe methodologies and tools for dependability analysis, modelling and simulation of fleets of complex systems, in order to support improvement decisions throughout the fleets' whole lifecycle. More specifically, the objective of the research is to contribute to the development of a tool for modelling and simulation of multiple parallel lifecycle phases of complex technical systems in a fleet. The focus is on the assessment of field data and the extraction and prediction of information for continuous improvement of subsystem reliability performance, organisational maintenance support performance and fleet availability performance. The empirical work focuses on the Swedish military aeronautics community. The data has been collected through interviews, observations, document studies and archival records, such as recordings of in-flight parameters and maintenance actions. The data has been analysed to investigate critical aspects, such as the perfect repair assumption, the appropriateness of decisions about changes of maintenance intervals and of the No Fault Found (NFF) phenomenon. Through a literature study and practical efforts, this thesis also outlines and exemplifies methodologies and tools that support dependability analysis of an aircraft fleet. In addition, modelling and simulation efforts have been made to enable prediction of aircraft fleet performance and beneficial adjustments of support resources during the fleet retirement phase. The results act as input to a conceptual model that describes the phasing-in, operation and retirement of an aircraft fleet. The model aims to identify when it is cost-effective to consider the Remaining Useful Life (RUL) of individual repairable components comprising aircraft being retired, and utilise these components as spare parts for the aircraft staying in service. In summary, the performed work indicates that, in today's context with PBL and excessive amount of available data, dependability analysis, modelling and simulation must become more transparent, traceable and intersubjective.
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