Paris Air Show preview: Andrew Tanner, VP customer service at Pratt & Whitney

Andrew Tanner, VP customer service commercial engines and aftermarket at Pratt & Whitney, talks to Sarah-Jayne Russell about what the OEM will be talking about at the Paris Air Show and about its preparations for the entry into service of its geared turbofan engine family.

What are going to be Pratt & Whitney’s key messages around its aftermarket offering at the Paris Air Show?

There will, of course, be a lot of conversation about the geared-turbofan (GTF) products and really making sure that we are ready for entry into service (EIS) which will happen later this year with the A320neo. We’ve been ramping up a lot of our internal processes and a lot of our activities with customers to make sure that we are really ready on day one.

One exciting development we’ll be talking about is the new training facility we are bringing online. Today we have our main training centre in East Hartford, Connecticut and one in China in Beijing. Now we are building a third in India and we expect that to be open in the second half of this year.

Why India?
The idea is to be closer to our customer base, and we see a lot of growth in that part of the world not just in India but in countries nearby. Travel to India is easier for some of those airlines rather than sending their technicians all the way to North America or China. Between the India and China facilities I think that we’ll see about 50 per cent of our training classroom time starting next year. The delegates will mainly be from the airlines – Go, IndiGo, for example – and we will be offering V2500 training alongside for the GTF.

What else have you been doing?
Alongside growing our training capabilities, there has been lots of growth in our overall aftermarket team around the world. We have also brought on a group of 12 seasoned engine maintenance professionals in our field support network. We call them “EIS representatives” and their job will be to work with the airlines and with the local P&W teams onsite as the aircraft are delivered to make sure that we have a smooth entry into service. Today the team is about 12 and we expect to double that over the next two years or so.

These reps have deep experience at working with airlines, with P&W and now they are getting a deep experience on the product itself. So I think this is going to be a win-win for the customers, the aircraft manufacturers and P&W.

These field reps are today submerged involved in the GTF programme and are supporting the flight test activities that we have at Airbus and Bombardier. One of their missions is to work as if these flight test organisations are actually airlines and thus verifying our installations, our procedures, our tools and our service manuals, for example. We’re doing everything we can now to weed out any opportunities for improvement.

Anything else you expect to be talking about at PAS15?
I think that one big topic of conversation will be data. P&W has 14 major projects on the go today focused on working with data. We’re working with a number of different collaborators – IBM, MIT and United Technologies’ research centre for example –  and the essence of these projects are is about optimising values for our customers through things like predictability. So more predictability of engine performance and then, as you go through the lifecycle of our products, looking at more predictability as to when engines come into the shop and what maintenance is going to be required. So I think that’s going to be another big topic of conversation.

Can you tell us more about what you are doing to prepare for the entry into service of the GTF?
So alongside the new training facility and our EIS field service representatives, we’ve been doing a lot to make sure that we are ready for entry into service. We have a 24/7 365 global operations centre here in Connecticut and we’ve been growing that. There’s a lot of experience in that team; everybody that sits in there’s a minimum of 20 years of experience. I expect that team to be very vocal in conversations between the field reps, the airlines and our teams back here.

In particular, we’ve been working on the tools that they have to deal with an incident all the way from its reporting to response, to make sure that we’re ready. Over the past three to five months we have been running simulations, working with airlines and the aircraft manufacturers. So we’ve been asking if a part got dinged, how do we deal with that? How does the phone call come in? Is the person that needs to evaluate it ready? Do we have the communication protocols in place to make sure that happens? It sounds simple, but it’s not, and we’ve making a lot of effort on that.

With the engine variants for five different aircraft types coming on board in such a short space of time, how to you ensure that your teams have all the relevant knowledge?
Certainly being lean and being efficient in our operations is very important. The same teams will be supporting all the GTF programmes and we’ve made sure that the communication tools we have are very simple to use, simple to search and easily accessed by the broad spectrum of staff who will be working these fleets.

How has P&W approach to the aftermarket support changed with the introduction of the GTF family?
First of all, as we look at the volume that we’re facing – we’re at 6,400 orders and counting – we’re transforming our aftermarket business to deal with that demand. One of the ways that we’re doing this is by simplifying our internal process. We have been looking at our processes and we have found redundancies in how we do things and inconsistencies that we’re leaning out. For example, we’ve found hand offs internally that we don’t really need to do. So we’ve really been driving to lean our internal structure to make sure that we are more efficient and able to cope with such significant volume of products coming online quickly.

The second part of the transformation is that we’ve really been moving our aftermarket business model from a traditional MRO model focused on transactional business to a service model. The service model approach is a beautiful thing because it really aligns our incentives with the incentives of our customers – keeping engines on wing as long as possible – and maintenance costs become very predictable for the customer. We are also able to work with them to optimise the engine configuration and performance, and all this together brings increased residual value to the product.

The third change is the data analytics piece. As I’ve already mentioned we have lots of great projects around data and improving the predictability of maintenance. One example is engine shop workscopes, there is a tremendous amount you can do to customise workscopes if you have good data and well analysed data. We want to be far more proactive or predictive, than we are today in terms of engine health and we have projects on the go that really drive maximising time on wing.

With the huge volume of maintenance work coming and P&W’s shift towards a service model will you be using partners to meet that increased demand?
Initial PW1100G-JM engine shop visits will be performed by the engine partners Pratt & Whitney, MTU and JAEC.   For MRO activity on new engines, high OEM participation is common.  Many operators prefer to rely on OEM expertise during this phase.  As the GTF engine shop visit volume grows, the network will expand to include airline shops and independent MRO shops.

Based on our experience and the large number of GTF engines sold, by 2020 when the first wave of GTF engines come in for their first overhauls, we expect about 10 engine overhaul shops to be available to provide quality services to GTF engine customers.

What proportion of aftermarket coverage are you looking to secure and how does this compare to previous products?
I think that more airlines are investing in rate-per-flight-hour fleet management plans (FMP) because they see the value they bring. We’ve done our analysis and when we’ve looked at airlines that are on FMPs vs those that are not, we see fewer unscheduled removals, we see longer time on-wing between shop visits.

Today roughly 40 per cent of the PW4000 fleet are under some kind of FMP. As we move forward into the larger and slightly newer V2500, today about 55 to 60 per cent of that fleet is under some flavour of FMP type programme. Looking forward to the GTF, I expect to see around 80 per cent of that fleet to sign up for some kind of FMP agreement.


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