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10/28/2002
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Japan Airlines Brings Enigma To The Gate

JAL hopes to reduce aircraft downtime by making it easier for ground personnel at its gates to access repair and maintenance data.

Enigma Inc. may be on the verge of breaking out of its mold. The vendor's service life-cycle management software traditionally has been used to help manufacturers and operators of capital equipment more easily find data within voluminous technical documents and parts catalogs. Now the vendor sees an opportunity to deliver that functionality beyond the repair facilities where major maintenance is conducted.

Japan Air Lines Inc. is rolling out a Web-based deployment of Enigma's 3C software that will let service personnel access repair and service information from airport gates, thus keeping the airline's fleet of 150 aircraft operational as often as possible. Long-haul airlines typically have about 90 minutes to make decisions on whether a maintenance issue warrants taking a plane out of service. Extending Enigma to ground personnel via wireless devices could help in two ways: by making it easier for the ground personnel to complete minor maintenance tasks fast enough to avoid delays, and by preventing aircraft from being removed from service unnecessarily for repairs that could have been completed at the gate.

The information is kept up-to-date via downloads directly from equipment manufacturers. The newest version of 3C, introduced in August, makes those downloads simpler by updating only the information that's changed, reducing the drain on network bandwidth and performance.

The capability for Enigma to extend use of its technology to a field location like an airport gate isn't new, but Japan Air Lines represents the first equipment operator to use Enigma in this way, says AMR analyst Mike Burkett. Such a deployment may be just what Enigma needs for word to get out. "It's been a feature they've had that probably hasn't sold," Burkett says. "Certainly, adoption of it does expand their market." That's not a fact that's been lost on Enigma executives, VP of marketing John Snow says. "There are a whole lot more operators out there than [original equipment manufacturers]."

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