The US Air Force (USAF) continues to make significant strides in implementing the tenets of Conditioned Based Maintenance-Plus (CBM+). The C-5M and B-1B platforms, currently serving as USAF CBM+ pathfinder programs, continue to develop predictive algorithms for key subsystems. In fact, the C-5 program is now evaluating the efficacy of expanding the CBM+ toolset to consider landing gear and flight controls. Efforts aren’t limited to these programs—the C-130 and KC-135 platforms are headed in the same direction. Both, in collaboration with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Product Support Engineering Division (AFLCMC/EZP), will be going live with enhanced Reliability Centered Maintenance (eRCM) toolsets this summer.
CBM+ Toolsets and Data Rights
As CBM+ continues to gain traction in the USAF, it’s important for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), software developers and other industry partners to understand where the USAF is headed in terms of developing toolsets and managing data. Why? Because the USAF has made it evident that it has no appetite for proprietary commercial solutions. The Service intends to own all maintenance data and is clearly trending toward organically developed data management solutions, or subcontracted tool development only if the Service maintains ownership of complete data rights. Companies that approach USAF CBM+ solutions with a goal of ongoing revenue via software services and support seriously risk being cut off completely from this growing, potentially lucrative market.
So how can industry participate under this paradigm? OEMS must leverage their deep engineering talent to perform reliability and product teardown analyses and planned product improvements. Industry, in general, should continue to develop machine learning tools which use artificial intelligence-based analyses to improve supply chain management. And software developers should consider public private-partnerships which will enable collaboration with the organic software maintenance groups. Each of these strategies must be carefully crafted and tailored to support and advance the USAF’s robust vision for CBM+.