Printed headline: Ups and Downs
Within a few days of each other in early January, two companies announced major changes to their businesses—but they were polar opposites.
Monarch Aircraft Engineering declared bankruptcy and is selling off parts of its business, which obviously negatively affects employees, customers and suppliers. In its rollercoaster ride of a little more than a year since its parent company, Monarch Airlines, abruptly went out of business, the MRO looked like it would succeed as a stand-alone entity, so its Jan. 4 filing was a surprise.
On the flip side, while not a surprise, Pratt & Whitney’s Eagle Services Asia has been working hard for more than year—and has spent $85 million—to modify its Singapore facility for the PW1000 geared turbofan, of which nearly 10,000 have been ordered. On Jan. 8, it announced receipt of European Aviation Safety Agency and Singapore certification for the geared turbofan and induction of the first PW1100G-JM.
To prepare for maintaining the geared turbofan family, Eagle Services Asia, a 20-year-old joint venture between Pratt & Whitney and SIA Engineering Co., separated the PW4000 and GFT operations into unique spaces and started afresh for the new engine—from a new engine flow line instead of an engine bay concept, ways to prevent employees from lifting heavy objects and new machinery to handle grinding, stacking and balancing. It also incorporates Connected Factory concepts—including paperless work instructions and sign-offs, tooling and a very tall carousel storage and retrieval system for tool and parts management.
The facility, which is Pratt & Whitney’s global center of excellence for PW4000 engine overhauls, also needed to modify its test cell. Although the PW1100G-JM has a lower thrust rating than the PW4000, the geared turbofan “has the highest bypass ratio of any engine in the industry,” says Joe Sylvestro, Pratt & Whitney’s vice president for aftermarket operations, so “to take in and put out more air flow, one test cell was retrofitted with a new and larger inlet tube and exhaust stack.” The test cell’s software and soundproofing system also were upgraded.
Enhancing operational efficiency and productivity is important as the GTF ramps up, with more than 300 engines in the Asia-Pacific region expected to need support and retrofits in 2019, compared to about 200 in 2018.
But inserting new technology into a facility alone is not enough. Pratt is upskilling its workforce to harness the new tech, says Sylvestro. Maintainers receive 16 weeks of hands-on and classroom training on the PW1100G.
Eagle Services Asia is part of the GTF MRO network that of eight shops including MTU, Japanese Aero Engine Corp., Lufthansa Technik and Pratt & Whitney. Four more should come online by 2020.
Expect 2019 to be full of changes as the fleet transitions, disruptive innovations emerge (see the electric propulsion article) and upsets occur. Serve your customers well and Happy New Year!