A Systematic Literature Review of Predictive Maintenance for Defence Fixed-Wing Aircraft Sustainment and Operations

Michael J. Scott, W.J.C. Verhagen, M.T. Bieber, Pier Marzocca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
444 Downloads (Pure)


In recent decades, the increased use of sensor technologies, as well as the increase in digitalisation of aircraft sustainment and operations, have enabled capabilities to detect, diagnose, and predict the health of aircraft structures, systems, and components. Predictive maintenance and closely related concepts, such as prognostics and health management (PHM) have attracted increasing attention from a research perspective, encompassing a growing range of original research papers as well as review papers. When considering the latter, several limitations remain, including a lack of research methodology definition, and a lack of review papers on predictive maintenance which focus on military applications within a defence context. This review paper aims to address these gaps by providing a systematic two-stage review of predictive maintenance focused on a defence domain context, with particular focus on the operations and sustainment of fixed-wing defence aircraft. While defence aircraft share similarities with civil aviation platforms, defence aircraft exhibit significant variation in operations and environment and have different performance objectives and constraints. The review utilises a systematic methodology incorporating bibliometric analysis of the considered domain, as well as text processing and clustering of a set of aligned review papers to position the core topics for subsequent discussion. This discussion highlights state-of-the-art applications and associated success factors in predictive maintenance and decision support, followed by an identification of practical and research challenges. The scope is primarily confined to fixed-wing defence aircraft, including legacy and emerging aircraft platforms. It highlights that challenges in predictive maintenance and PHM for researchers and practitioners alike do not necessarily revolve solely on what can be monitored, but also covers how robust decisions can be made with the quality of data available.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7070
Number of pages31
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • aircraft
  • decision-making
  • defence
  • diagnostics
  • maintenance
  • predictive
  • prognostics
  • uncertainty


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