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Zhihui Li: Twelve Years of Youth Shoulders the Research Work on Aircraft Maintenance

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Zhihui Li: Twelve Years of Youth Shoulders the Research Work on Aircraft Maintenance

October 27
13:23 2020

Zhihui Li is a well-known aircraft maintenance expert in China. With his exquisite professional skills and keen market insight, he has become the “first person” in China’s aircraft maintenance.  His outstanding scientific research ability, innovation ability, and achievement promotion ability have made him a leading figure in China’s aerospace maintenance industry, recognized by many countries around the world, and become a world-renowned outstanding talent. He has the courage to challenge himself and conquer “adversaries”, always walking at the forefront of the attention of the times. As an experienced maintenance expert, he has predicted numerous aircraft failures in advance, preventing the occurrence of air hazards from the root cause and recovering incalculable losses. By combining professional knowledge with practical experience, he has put forward many valuable suggestions for research and development work, and provided key guidance for the development of a variety of aircraft. During his twelve years of youth, he unremittingly dedicated all his efforts and energy to provoke the backbone of aircraft maintenance research and laid a solid foundation for the development of the world aerospace industry.

Innovated detection technology and improved aircraft maintenance efficiency

The continuous increase in the complexity of aircraft and other aircraft’s internal equipment has led to a significant increase in its failure rate. The traditional aircraft fault diagnosis methods that focus on prevention and maintenance can no longer meet the needs of industry development. Zhihui Li innovatively introduced State Tree Theory, big data, artificial intelligence and other technologies into aviation maintenance work, and developed the “State-tree Based Aircraft Fault Diagnosis System”, which has effectively improved the efficiency of troubleshooting, and has created considerable economic, safety and social benefits for many companies in the United States, Germany, Canada, Japan, Singapore and other countries, and has promoted the technological progress of the entire industry.

The state tree analysis method is an analysis technique with excellent safety and reliability. It adopts a deductive analysis method from top to bottom. Based on the State Tree Theory, Li sets the least expected event to the top, and gradually finds out all the factors related to the hardware, software, environment, and human factors that caused the event to occur. The entire failure will be represented by a special inverted tree logic cause and effect diagram, and qualitative and quantitative safety and reliability analysis will be carried out. Through analysis, we can find out the weak links of the aircraft’s overall performance, propose ways to improve the reliability of the aircraft, and also predict and diagnose aircraft failures. At the International Aerospace Technology Exhibition 2019, he attended it as a Special Guest. He shared the advanced technological achievements of the “State-tree Based Aircraft Fault Diagnosis System” to the participants. Taking the acceleration adjustment system of the main fuel system of an aero engine as an example, he demonstrated the excellent application effect of this achievement. That is to say, the system analyzes and takes surge parking during acceleration as a top event to build a tree, uses a minimum cut set to calculate the probability of top event, and obtains the best sequence of system fault detection and diagnosis, and guides the operation and maintenance of the system.

The application of this system not only enables maintenance personnel to sort out the failure mode of the aircraft in the shortest time, but also can measure the hazard and importance of the system and component failures to the overall performance of the aircraft, so as to find the weak links in time and correct them at any time. At the same time, through advanced technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence, we can improve data management and analysis capabilities and improve maintenance efficiency.

In addition, Li has also conducted innovative research on aircraft maintenance programs, intelligent control, and comprehensive health management. He has undertaken a number of national-level key project research and development tasks, led the technical team to race against time, continuously promote technological innovation, overcome technical problems, resolve technical risks one by one, and accelerate the development of various maintenance technologies. In less than three years, he completed the time-consuming work, and became a technical leader with great voice in the industry.

Innovated the cooperation model and created the core competitiveness of the industry

The progress of society tells us that talents are the first driving force for the development of the industry, and it is also applicable to the field of aircraft maintenance. Aviation maintenance is a technology-intensive industry. Its intensive technology and high technical requirements make it difficult and long to train highly skilled personnel, unable to meet the growing market demand, and seriously restrict the development of the industry.

As an aviation dreamer, Li shoulders the important task of revitalizing the industry. He believes that a person’s energy is ultimately limited, and the collective strength is the most powerful force of mankind. Only by continuously disseminating knowledge and experience can we create more opportunities for change in the industry. In 2019, under his efforts, Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company Limited and Nanyang Technological University reached a strategic partnership in terms of talent training and achievement promotion. As the person in charge of the company, he has been to Singapore many times for guidance and assessment, and taught aviation maintenance skills and other aspects of knowledge at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore as a senior expert lecturer, and participated in the reform of the curriculum system and the compilation of teaching materials. This has enriched the teaching model of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and the high-end talents cultivated are employed by major airlines around the world. Their professional knowledge system, practical operation skills, and innovative thinking mode are highly praised by the employers.

Li believes that the combination of academic knowledge and practical experience and passing it on to the “preparatory team members” of industry innovation and creation is the primary task of cooperation with Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. During the survey, he found that the teaching content of the University emphasized design and manufacturing theory, but rarely used and repaired theories, and practical courses were even rarer. In the process of innovating courses and teaching materials, he combined daily maintenance practices, advanced scientific concepts, and Singapore’s local aviation industry to lead experts from both the university and the enterprise to compile aviation maintenance theory textbooks. After running for several months, he finally found more than 3 million words of relevant information in the vast library. But the difficulty lied in how to localize the advanced theories of these countries in the world so that aviation maintenance practice and theory can be closely integrated. He devoted a lot of effort to this work. Just to explain the laws of absolute air pressure limiters, he searched for 12 parameters and more than 300 sets of data in nearly 200 aircraft cabin air conditioning systems in various countries. In this process, he is more like a gold digger, looking for shining points among the thousands of gravels, and gathering these lights to illuminate the future path of industry successors.

The teaching materials compiled by experts led by him filled the gaps in aviation maintenance theory at Nanyang Technological University, and has a knowledge update rate of over 85%. It draws on the latest research results from various countries in the world, and uses emerging knowledge such as probability theory, operations research, reliability engineering, big data, artificial intelligence, etc., to carry out theoretical explanations from maintenance management, maintenance technology, maintenance quality, etc., which has provided important support for the establishment of the aviation maintenance theoretical system of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, promoted the renewal of students’ ideas, and played a leading role in promoting the development of the aviation maintenance industry.

Reporter: Yu Xin

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