Air Force has high hopes AI can boost aircraft readiness, cut maintenance costs

In April 2018, an Air Force KC-135 tanker landing in Rota, Spain, suffered a failure on one of its hydraulic pumps. No spares were available at the base, so instead of performing its missions the tanker sat on the tarmac for five days waiting for repairs.

That same scenario — involving the same pump — repeated itself two dozen times over the last four years, and the Air Force estimates the downtime costs involving failures of one single part amounted to $6.6 million.