Product improvement packages (PIP) have always been part of an OEM’s ongoing technology road map. For operators, PIPs, which can be retrofittable, should be carefully considered.
“PIPs are generally offered for better fuel burn or greater reliability,” says Peter Turner, StandardAero president for airlines and fleets. “Any decision to order a PIP must be based on the cost against the payback period.”
Rudy Bryce, general manager of GE Aviation Materials and TrueChoice Transitions, reports that the OEM has tried to apply any new technology built into its newer engines to older models—where possible—and include them in scheduled shop visits. Yet a PIP has to “buy its way” onto the engine, he says. “You have to decide what benefits it will deliver to make it worth the investment.”
Under OEM warranties, a PIP could be done at no charge, points out Shannon Ackert, vice president of commercial operations for aircraft lessor Jackson Square Aviation. Post warranty, the OEM is likely to quote the customer a preferential price—which could still be costly.
“The airline must do a very strict cost-benefit analysis because a PIP could be cost-prohibitive and must be planned well in advance,” he says.
A good barometer to determine whether a PIP is worth the expense, says Ackert, would be the remaining life of the aircraft and the length of time the operator expects to keep it in service. “A PIP is probably not worth it if you are looking at a shorter-term lease—less than 10 years.”
GE's CF6-80C family has received eight planned product improvement (PIP) upgrades delivering better fuel burn, longer time on wing and greater reliability.