Viewpoint

Highway to hangar

Miles of print have been dedicated to the aero-engine aftermarket, but scant attention is ever paid to the literal miles that engine must cover shuttling between manufacturers, airlines and repair shops.

Every engine will travel by road at some point in its life, and each year a big airline like Delta, American or United will contract out the trucking of around 2,000 units.

Only in rare cases will engines be delivered by air, mainly because of the expense involved and the challenge of fitting them in aircraft cargo holds. Within North America engine shipment by road is up to 100 times cheaper than by air.

Nonetheless, engines are still more expensive to truck than equivalent-sized loads, since special precautions need to be taken.

For shipment powerplants are bolted into an engine cradle that secures it in the same way it would be to the wing of an aircraft.

However, care must be taken not restrict movement of the engine on the stand’s rubber isolation mounts: a big risk if the straps are ratcheted down tight over the cradle, and one that would force am expensive inspection of the engine on arrival.

Drivers must follow distinct procedures in other areas, too. In the US, for instance, they follow ‘Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism’ procedures, which mandate cargo inspections every two hours and withholding the destination or nature of a truck’s cargo.

During AOG emergencies matters can become further complicated by regulations covering the time drivers can spend at the wheel. Naturally, airlines want a replacement engine as fast as possible, so trucking companies will arrange teams of drivers to work in shifts that allow them to cover more than 1,000 miles per day.

For an in-depth look at the challenges of moving engines by road, subscribe to the forthcoming Engine Yearbook 2016.

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