Maintained & Measured

posted on 10th December 2021
Maintained & Measured

Digital data collection and analysis may be revolutionising engine maintenance, but hands-on technical skills are as important as ever. Pratt & Whitney Canada’s Satheeshkumar Kumarasingam, and Megha Bhatia at Rolls-Royce, discuss the latest engine MRO developments

From sitting on a baking desert ramp, to operating in the extreme cold of high altitude at Mach 0.9, a bizjet’s engines endure the harshest of environments every time they go to work. That they do so efficiently and reliably is testament to engineering excellence and quality maintenance, the latter increasingly relying on digital predictive technologies just as it does the humble wrench.
Satheeshkumar Kumarasingam, VP of Customer Service at Pratt & Whitney Canada, says: “We have a variety of engine condition trend monitoring products, some of which are fully incorporated into the design and manufacture of the engine – as with the PT6 E-Series turboprop and PW800 turbofan – while others are separate devices integrated with the engine post manufacture.
“We refer to the capabilities these enable as digital engine health management services, the most recent of which is our FAST solution. It provides near real-time, high-density, full-flight data after each mission, going beyond diagnostics and prognostics to give customers a fully connected, data-driven engine.
“It automates the capture and analysis of a wide range of engine and aircraft parameters and can provide wireless access to encrypted and secure flight data recorder information. It is helping customers move toward a predictive maintenance environment and supports on-condition maintenance programmes.”
Maximising the potential of aircraft connectivity, FAST data may be downloaded wirelessly after flight. Kumarasingam says Pratt & Whitney Canada can analyse and share the data within 15 minutes of engine shutdown.
Beyond the obvious advantages of the latest engine monitoring systems, there is also a sustainability aspect. Healthy engines are more efficient, but the possibilities go beyond even that. With reference to the FAST system, Kumarasingam explains: “Through its ability to deliver alerts and trend monitoring, P&WC is more closely engaged with the customer, not only providing early detection of possible events, but also helping them extract maximum benefit from the engines with the greatest cost efficiency. The system can also automate much of the onerous task of compiling carbon burn and other regulatory reports. This means more time on wing and higher rates of dispatch availability.”
Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PT6 turboprop exclusively powers the PC-12 fleet and the majority of King Airs, while its business aviation turbofans are in widespread service, but it is far from alone in the market. Rolls-Royce is among its key competitors, with its own engine care packages, and monitoring and reporting technologies, notes Megha Bhatia, VP Sales & Marketing, Business Aviation.
“CorporateCare Enhanced, our turnkey solution, transfers all the risk involved in operating an integrated powerplant system to Rolls-Royce,” she says. “It’s a comprehensive programme that provides coverage for the complete powerplant, including the engine and nacelle.”
Engine health monitoring (EHM) is included within the CorporateCare Enhanced package, while non-CorporateCare customers may sign up to the EHM service for a fee. “It monitors the health of the engine and, with the Pearl family of engines, also the accessories,” Bhatia continues. “It sends proactive alerts and recommendations for inspections or actions if anomalies are observed. We do this by monitoring over 10,000 parameters and comparing them to the engine’s digital twin, which we establish through the engine design and pass-off test. This enables us to see, assess and, if necessary, respond to changes in temperatures, speeds, pressures or response times.”
The result may be a less intense maintenance intervention since a more serious problem has not been allowed to develop – and while that’s good for the aircraft owner, in some cases it has the potential to be good for the fleet, too. Bhatia explains: “Through our Intelligent Engine programme we compare the data analysed on a wider fleet level to give insights on where the fleet is operating and the environments the engines are experiencing. This data is also very useful to us when designing new engines.”
Owners need not worry about their individual data being shared, since Bhatia says data safety is among Rolls-Royce’s top customer priorities. “We are used to these requirements. As one of the world’s leading suppliers in the defence sector we have all the necessary infrastructure and processes in place to ensure the highest standards of data security are fulfilled.”
Rolls-Royce has a long, proud association with the defence sector. The company has produced some of the most iconic military engines, and Bhatia reveals that there is a healthy cross pollination of ideas and technology across its business aviation, military and airliner portfolio. “One example is the swept fan blade design, which was originally introduced with the Trent engine family for large commercial aircraft. This technology was further developed and introduced for the first time in our business aviation engines with the BR725, powering the Gulfstream G650 and G650ER.
“Or you could look at the blisk [bladed disk] fan of the latest Pearl 700 and Pearl 10X engines. While smaller blisks have been used on several programmes, Rolls-Royce developed large blisk technology as part of the LiftSystem programme for the Lockheed Martin F-35B.”
Pratt & Whitney, of course, has a comparable legacy, of which Kumarasingam is obviously proud. “Our products are a result of taking the best from each new family of products we develop – from the safety that comes from building engines for single-engine aircraft, through the durability and reliability to support airline service, to the support for a helicopter that can take off or land just about anywhere, and the premium service expectations that come with serving business jet customers,” he explains.
“There are many examples where technology developed for one market segment is applied to another, such as with the PW800 engine family. At its heart is durable, rigorously tested core technology shared with Pratt & Whitney’s award-winning GTF commercial aircraft engines.”

In the field
At some point, every engine needs hands-on attention from an expert technician, whether for scheduled maintenance or repair. Just as they have comprehensive digital offers, so Pratt & Whitney Canada and Rolls-Royce have the people and facilities to match.
Employing more than 2,000 dedicated staff, Pratt & Whitney Canada’s customer support network provides global coverage on a 24/7/365 basis. “We have in excess of 50 Designated Maintenance Facilities, company-owned shops providing line maintenance and mobile repair team [MRT] services, plus Designated Overhaul Facilities and Approved Repair Facilities in 25 countries. These assets are all strategically located in areas where there is the greatest concentration of our engines in service,” Kumarasingam says.
“We also have 100 Field Support Managers, on call to help customers troubleshoot issues, and another 100 MRT technicians who travel to the customer’s location when required. To address AOG situations we have our C-First customer response centre, which operates around the clock and is staffed by multi-lingual experts. We also have more than 1,000 engines in our engine rental/exchange pool, ten strategically located parts distribution centres and 12 customer training schools operated by FlightSafety International.”
The story at Rolls-Royce is similar, as Bhatia describes: “Through extensive dialogue with our customers we have a clear understanding of what is important in a business aircraft operation and that’s why we created a dedicated organisation that understands the needs of its customers. To enable this, we’ve established a network of capability including 175 lease engines, more than 75 authorised service centres, nine parts stores and in excess of 70 on-wing services technicians, all strategically placed around the world. In the middle of this powerful services infrastructure sits our dedicated 24/7 Business Aircraft Availability Centre.”
And neither company has forgotten that many of its engines remain in service on older aircraft with long, productive lives ahead of them. Rolls-Royce extended its comprehensive CorporateCare coverage to include nacelles for its BR700 and new Pearl family of engines. Bhatia notes that to date, more than 750 aircraft have been enrolled.
The ongoing maintenance of virtually all Pratt & Whitney Canada engines can be managed through its Eagle Service Plan (ESP). “It’s a pay-per-hour engine maintenance cost guarantee programme that helps move customers toward a fully planned maintenance environment,” Kumarasingam says. “This environment helps increase aircraft availability and time on wing, reduces maintenance costs and avoids maintenance ‘surprises’.
“ESP covers major scheduled maintenance, unscheduled engine and accessory maintenance, and required engine and accessory upgrades – all of which we see as integral to maximising availability and managing maintenance costs.”
Engine maintenance has become an ongoing process of data collection and analysis, backed up by traditional engineering skills applied in the hangar and workshop. The latest programmes and technologies, like those on offer from Pratt & Whitney Canada and Rolls-Royce, are helping customers fly cost-effectively and safely and, critically for all our futures, more sustainably too.

Authorised Service
High-quality engine maintenance is available at many MROs, some of them, like Duncan Aviation, delivering authorised service for the OEMs. As well as delivering under programmes from Pratt & Whitney Canada and Rolls-Royce, Duncan Aviation supports Honeywell, Williams and General Electric, while it also services customer engines signed up to JSSI products.
All of the company’s MROs provide programme support and service, while it also has an overhaul facility dedicated to the Honeywell TFE731 and HTF7000, plus several rental engines.
Indeed, Mike Bernholtz, Team Leader Engine Service Sales, says the Duncan Aviation Engine Parts Reclamation Program constantly adds TFE731 engines to its reclamation process to build parts inventory, while it also supports customers facing challenges finding parts for older engines.