Rolls-Royce aero engine maintenance shop visits will triple in the next 15 years as the company’s installed engine count more than doubles, it said at a media briefing on March 27.
Rolls-Royce is expanding its range of maintenance services and is targeting engine availability, engine efficiency and asset management alongside its core maintenance and customer support activities. It expects its installed engine base to rise from 3,492 in 2015 to 7,300 in 2025.
Part of the services evolution focuses on data, and to that end, Rolls-Royce is partnering with Microsoft to develop an “intelligent engine” where design, manufacturing, fleet and operations data are collected and analyzed to provide enhanced aftermarket services.
Tom Palmer, senior vice president, services, civil aerospace, says the company’s services were moving on from an era where small packets of data were sent for condition monitoring. “We need far more data to optimize fuel efficiency, avert risk and improve maintenance. We need terabytes of data to understand weather conditions, airport infrastructure, how aircraft are taxiing in and turnaround times--and how all these factors affect the engine,” says Palmer. The intelligent engine interacts with the entire support ecosystem.
The use of Rolls-Royce digital technology was enabling a European carrier to save $810,000 a year in fuel costs, the company claims. This included a scheme to improve the efficiency of taxiing across the airport on landing by using one engine.
As well as giants such as Microsoft, Rolls-Royce is looking for technology partnerships with start-up companies to deliver enhanced services. “By the early 2020s, half the world’s fleet will be Rolls-Royce powered, which is a remarkable place to be, when you consider where we were 30 years ago,” says Palmer. “Innovation in services has been a large component of the success we have had in the marketplace.”
All current Trent Total Care customers reselected this package on new fleets, according to the engine OEM. Total Care Flex, a package aimed at maximizing the use of mature engines, was becoming a popular choice for older Trent engines. Some Trent 700 and 800 engines are coming to the end of the product lifecycle, but the average age of the whole Trent family is getting younger.
Traditional maintenance programs such as Foundation Services, where more of the maintenance risk is borne by the carrier, were popular with engines at a later stage in the lifecycle, when airlines had more experience of their operation.
“Total Care offers the highest risk transfer, which is exactly what our customers are looking for in the first stages of operation,” said Richard Goodhead, senior vice president, marketing, Rolls-Royce civil aerospace. Ninety-percent of the Trent fleet are being maintained under Rolls-Royce’s “power by the hour” Total Care maintenance package, says the company, but other support packages are becoming attractive to airlines as engines draw closer to the end of their lives.