When airline operations and passenger safety are riding on everything you do…
Designing and implementing the right cloud-first strategy for an airline services business
As told by Sebastien Abbandonato, Vice President, Head of Information Technology, MHIRJ
In partnership with Jeffrey Wong, Managing Partner, Kyndryl Canada
In 2020, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) acquired the CRJ Series aircraft program, along with the maintenance, repair and overhaul service business—inheriting the competitive efficiency of a business where the airlines it serves value the fastest return of their planes to service.
Today, there are approximately 1,300 CRJ aircraft in service in North America, with the capacity to carry 80,000 passengers to regional destinations every day.
For the airlines, profitability depends on having full flights as often as possible. Maintaining and extending each plane’s fitness for service is critical. Any jet that can’t fly can cost an airline up to $50,000 a day in lost revenue—and that loss is trivial compared to the potential loss of life if an aircraft repair fails or service maintenance falls short.
Sebastien Abbandonato, Vice President, Information Technology at the newly formed MHIRJ company, found himself at a crossroads. He needed to transition and transform the IT landscape to increase the value of MHIRJ's repair and maintenance services to airline customers, but he could not afford to disrupt the success of current operations. Above all, any changes he made needed to be justifiable in maintaining overall aircraft safety.
My vision for MHIRJ was essentially to increase operational efficiency. And to do that, what we wanted to put in place was a core team of IT professionals,to basically be there to define the architecture and the strategy as well as making sure that we standardize the way that we do things. But part of that strategy was saying, okay, if you have a small core team, then how do you actually deliver on all these projects? And the way that we would do that is outsource."
Creating an IT program to support ambitious business growth
Like all good leaders, Sebastien knew his team couldn’t do it alone. To transform operations, increasing efficiency while enhancing safety, Sebastien needed a partner with expertise in designing and building core IT services, and in managing the deployed resources. From the outset, MHIRJ’s technology leaders knew that choosing the right platforms and tools would be essential to a better integration of service center and engineering teams.
Sebastien opted to extend MHIRJ’s existing relationship with the Kyndryl team—experts who already thoroughly understood the technology requirements of MHIRJ's acquired business and could help the company to:
Making the right choices for transformation
A flexible cloud architecture was a priority for MHIRJ’s new IT program, to provide the necessary reliability and flexibility as IT resources scale to support business growth.
The first challenge with a cloud-first architecture was choosing the right platform partners without getting bogged down in unnecessary complexity.
Kyndryl had knowledge of our previous systems. That actually made them the ideal partner to advise us on our transformation. They helped us choose the right cloud, the right framework for the right application.”
Designing and implementing the right multicloud solution
What progress looks like
Together, MHIRJ and Kyndryl worked to define and implement the requirements for the company’s core IT services. Despite the added complexity, the team determined that a multicloud strategy would be most appropriate to support current company operations and longer-term business objectives.
Within the new IT program, service centers run a maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) software-as-a-service solution to digitize procedures and technical resources, making access to project status and other pertinent information readily available to team members as they work in parallel. In addition to streamlining operations, the MRO solution also helps enhance the safety that is the cornerstone of MHIRJ’s business.
To smooth operational snags and facilitate international collaboration within MHIRJ engineering, Sebastien and his team moved MHIRJ’s project lifecycle management (PLM) software to the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), with Oracle databases in data centers that are regionally located near MHIRJ’s engineering teams and managed by similarly located Kyndryl service teams. This now makes the engineering data instantaneously available across regions to support efficient collaboration on projects that span multiple time zones. These data centers can accommodate the large volume of the computer-aided design (CAD) data that an expanding business can be expected to be generated.
To drive greater efficiencies and enhance ongoing collaboration, business applications now run on SAP S/4HANA software in a public cloud, integrating with MRO software and providing a portal where airline customers and supply-chain vendors can directly interact with their MHIRJ accounts.
What progress looks like
Just halfway through its transformation, MHIRJ is reporting early success:
We've delivered hundreds of applications right now for our company that are running on our different cloud infrastructure. Most of our major projects have either gone live or close to going live, and we're really proud of that as a team.”
MHIRJ Aviation is the largest MRO provider for the CRJ Series fleet in North America, providing comprehensive critical operational, engineering, and customer support solutions, including maintenance, refurbishment, technical publications, marketing, and sales activities for the global regional aircraft industry.