Joe Sylvestro, Pratt & Whitney’s VP aftermarket operations, explains how the manufacturer is preparing for the first PW1000G overhaul and is using new digital tools to better predict engine MRO.
Pratt & Whitney’s facility in Columbus, Georgia, is the first in the world to be ready to overhaul the geared turbofan. When do you expect the first engine to arrive and what’s the ramp up plan?
We have been investing in upgrades for the Columbus Engine Center--the first in the world to begin maintaining PW1000G engines --over the past several years. On Feb. 14, we announced a $386 investment to expand engine maintenance capability at the facility. Last June, we announced a $65 million investment in the engine center to support GTF engine maintenance. These upgrades are in addition to rigorous training that has taken place over the past several years for employees working on these engines.
The Columbus Engine Center inducted the first engine on May 24, 2016, for minor maintenance, and shipped a total of four engines in 2016. In 2017, we continue to grow MRO capability at the Columbus site as well as across the GTF MRO network, where we are rapidly ramping up capacity to meet the fleet’s MRO needs.
Were there any unique requirements for standing up the GTF overhaul capability, other than different tooling?
The GTF engine overhauls use the latest in assembly techniques and technology, such as electronic alignment processes and torque control. To ensure the best performance, the GTF engines are built to tighter tolerances than the current generation of engines. However, besides these refinements, most of the tooling is similar to existing overhaul equipment.
What will a typical cost range be for a GTF overhaul, and how long will a full overhaul take?
The GTF engine incorporates the most advanced engine technology available today, which is a step-change above engines developed 30 years ago. This game-changing engine architecture includes almost 50 new technologies that deliver significant benefits to our customers, including a 16% reduction in fuel (60 gallons per engine flight hour), 75% reduction in noise and 50% reduction in emissions. The engine alone can lead to savings approaching $1 million per year. In terms of other operating cost savings, our GTF engine was designed to deliver the lowest overall cash operating costs when you consider both the fuel advantage and lifecycle maintenance costs. Regarding overhaul times, we continue to build our global GTF MRO network of facilities and mobile services and are leveraging operational lessons learned as we go. We don’t release commercial terms publicly, but would expect GTF overhaul turnaround time at maturity to be equal or better than the V2500.
P&W has been developing an algorithm to better predict unscheduled engine removals. How is that progressing and how will it impact the GTF?
Our development project to better understand and predict unscheduled engine removals continues to evolve. Results to date are leading us to take a deeper and broader look at drivers affecting engine systems and components. We are in the process of expanding our digital capabilities and coupling these technologies to bring a smarter approach to our customers. We are leveraging ADEM (Advanced Diagnostics and Engine Management) and eFAST (enhanced flight data acquisition storage and transmission) data, which will help us move away from borescoping (i.e. reducing operator maintenance burden) and connect our trend analytics to remote on-wing/near-wing maintenance to enable faster and more cost-effective maintenance options. Digital helps us be more predictive, more mobile and more responsive in support of our customers.
With 40% more sensors on the GTF engine than the V2500, we are able to generate more data more frequently through a new offering called eFAST.
The eFAST ecosystem includes a highly secured acquisition, storage and transmission infrastructure that is capable of recording aircraft/engine full-flight data, generating reports based on recorded data and offloading the data and reports automatically to a remote, secure ground station. Data transmission from the aircraft to Pratt & Whitney is achieved through wireless technology such as WiFi and/or cellular and the raw encrypted data is converted to engineering units. This system will enable us to post customized performance reports on our customer portal for their use in proactively managing their fleet maintenance.
With eFAST, we are able to capture data throughout the full flight cycle instead of snapshots during takeoff and cruise. This additional data will allow us to proactively, better monitor engine performance, minimize disruption and predict future maintenance visits. It represents the next generation for engine health monitoring and has been designed for the large commercial engine market.
What on-wing and off-wing maintenance issues are arising so far?
Our biggest focus right now is building our GTF MRO network to support our customers. Today, the network includes some of the industry’s top MRO companies to provide the highest quality maintenance support for GTF engines. Network members include Pratt & Whitney, MTU, JAEC and Lufthansa Technik. Over time, as the volume of overhauls increase, the network is expected to expand to include airlines and other MRO shops. New members of the network will be announced as agreements are finalized.
Last year, we also announced expanded line maintenance services, allowing us to offer our customers the most tailored maintenance possible with the least impact to their operations. Lufthansa Technik is Pratt & Whitney’s principal provider of mobile engine maintenance services for V2500, PW1100G-JM, PW1500G and PW1900G engines.