Air Force taps Google Cloud for aircraft maintenance system

Project Lighthouse creates a unified ecosystem that will enable the Rapid Sustainment Office to optimize maintenance readiness, increase staff productivity and reduce costs.

The Air Force Rapid Sustainment Office (RSO) announced an agreement with Google Cloud to build an open, agile and globally scalable system for aircraft maintenance.

Announced July 16, the initiative, known as Project Lighthouse, will enable RSO to optimize maintenance readiness, increase staff productivity and reduce costs. Project Lighthouse creates a unified ecosystem that helps the office accelerate its goals and digitize for the future.

“This project simplifies digital technology integration and creates a robust foundation for scaling to the enterprise,” Allen McCormick, chief of strategic communications and engagement at RSO, wrote in an email to GCN. “The sustainment mission has long been subject to slow innovation cycles, disparate legacy maintenance information … systems, and reliance on antiquated processes. This technology accelerates that cycle of change to make aircraft maintenance more responsive, efficient and cost-effective.”

This new aircraft maintenance system will provide seamless integration for all Air Force technology providers, including those delivering predictive maintenance software, manufacturing robotics and augmented reality headsets and other hardware. Apigee, Google Cloud’s API management platform, and Anthos, its managed application platform, will power the system. The aircraft maintenance system will be prototyped, validated and tested for scalability within the Air Force’s technology environment before it is launched.

“The technology enables rapid integration of RSO’s pipeline of technologies within a single ecosystem,” McCormick said. “Imagine a maintainer using a point of maintenance data capture system linked with an augmented reality headset during hands-on maintenance, feeding leadership with situational awareness of the squadron’s mission capability, and allowing for live data synchronization with legacy maintenance systems. Traditionally this would be accomplished by multiple radio calls, manual data entry, and lots and lots of paper. This technology enables that capability in real time with as little redundant manual actions as possible.”

He declined to disclose the terms of the contract, including a timeline for the project’s roll out.

The secretary of the Air Force established RSO in 2018 to increase mission readiness by rapidly identifying, applying and scaling technology essential to the operation and sustainment of the service. RSO has more than 329,000 active-duty personnel and 170-plus operational locations worldwide.

In a press statement, Nathan Parker, deputy of RSO’s Program Executive Office, called the partnership with Google Cloud “a significant milestone for RSO on our journey to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies.”

This article first appeared on GCN, a Defense Systems partner site.