Silicon Valley firm C3.ai said a recent $95 million deal with the Defense Department to use its “predictive maintenance” software could be widely applied across DOD’s aircraft fleets.
In a release issued today, C3 said it agreed to a production other transaction agreement with the Defense Innovation Unit to use the company’s “C3 Readiness for Aircraft” platform.

Inside Defense previously reported on how the Army has already submitted task orders under the agreement to do predictive maintenance across 200 Apache and 200 Black Hawk helicopters, respectively.

The total production deal lasts up to five years and has a ceiling of $95 million, C3.ai revealed today.

The work started as a prototyping OTA with DIU in 2017 to test C3.ai’s predictive maintenance software on the Air Force’s E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system aircraft as well as the C-5 Galaxy transport plane. Prototyping was later expanded to variants of the F-16 and F-35 fighter fleets.

In an interview this week with Inside Defense, C3.ai President and Chief Technology Officer Ed Abbo said the company is in discussions with DOD officials to transition those Air Force platforms to task orders under the production agreement, in addition to the Army orders that have already been placed.

Abbo said the company is also looking to take its predictive maintenance software beyond DOD aviation.

“You can use the same C3 readiness solution and actually apply it to aviation platforms, and then take it beyond that to ground vehicles and vessels and other equipment that requires maintenance,” Abbo said. “You can basically streamline operations and maintenance across the Department of Defense.”

C3.ai’s software ingests data that is collected during routine maintenance and flight operations, and the company then trains algorithms to predict when a subsystem or part will typically fail.
“It’s a highly cost-effective way to improve readiness by essentially using the data and algorithms to anticipate which systems, subsystems, parts are at high risk of failure,” Abbo said.

In its work with DOD, C3.ai uses the same software platform it uses for commercial customers, according to Abbo. While data availability varies dramatically across DOD aircraft fleets — for instance, the 1970s-era, telemetry-free E-3 Sentry and the modern, telemetric F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — Abbo said DOD’s data is not vastly different than data found in the commercial sector.

“The data in the Department of Defense [is] no better or worse than data that you come across in oil and gas, or power or banking, frankly,” Abbo said.

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