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Maintaining a power dynasty

Bernie Baldwin reports on the maintenance of two generations of powerplant for two generations of Airbus A320 Family

Pratt & Whitney’s PW1100G-JM engine for the Airbus A320neo Family has had its fair share of headlines through the early part of 2018. The focus of those reports was a problem relating to a knife edge seal on the high pressure compressor (HPC) aft hub in one particular batch of engines. This caused some of the aircraft they powered to be grounded.

The successor to the IAE V2500 in powering the Airbus single-aisle family has had a mixed entry into service, meeting many of the specifications the OEM set for itself, but having some teething problems too. Modifications had to be made. So before discussing the maintenance of the PW1100G-JM and its predecessor, the matter of those modifications has to be addressed.

In February, the company released a revised configuration to rectify the problem. Joe Sylvestro, Vice President, Aftermarket Operations for Pratt & Whitney, explains the background to the situation and what the modification work has entailed.

“We implemented an engineering change in mid-2017 with the intent to improve long-life durability for the knife edge seal in the high pressure compressor. Instead, as you know, it had the opposite effect, which we quickly identified and addressed. There was no original ‘failing’ that we were addressing,” Sylvestro remarks.

“The modification, which was certified within a week of submitting to the appropriate regulators, is based on a prior design with slight modifications,” he continues. “We were able to immediately implement this modified design into new production and overhauls, and shipped the first engine with this certified configuration on 26 February. We have received a number of the 55 engines back from Airbus that were awaiting installation and have started modifying and returning them to Airbus.”

Moving on to the MRO work, while preparing for the whole PW1000G family to enter service, Pratt & Whitney built its portfolio of aftermarket service for the engines, suitably branded PureSolutions. At MRO Americas 2017, however, the EngineWise portfolio of services – which features all of the services the company currently offers, including those for the [PW1000G] Geared Turbofan (GTF) engine family – was introduced with some fanfare. As a result, according to Sylvestro, the PureSolutions brand “will sunset” in favour of EngineWise.

While Fleet Management Programs (FMPs), engine overhaul services and material solutions led the launch of the EngineWise portfolio, new services continue to be added, as Sylvestro confirms. One of the solutions added at launch was Advanced Diagnostics & Engine Management (ADEM) which helps operators monitor and maintain their engine fleets better.

“EngineWise is about simplifying our services portfolio and introducing new offerings to support customers’ evolving needs,” he asserts. “We have established a dedicated organisation focused on developing new solutions with customers across the entire life cycle, covering both mature engines and new products like the GTF engine.

“Most recently, we announced new data analytics capabilities for V2500 engines as a result of achieving a supplemental type certificate (STC) for the Airbus A321 aircraft powered by the V2500. With this STC, we are able to expand our current EngineWise data analytics capabilities for our customers currently flying the A321 and be more agile and flexible than ever before,” Sylvestro elaborates.

“Additionally, Pratt & Whitney will be better able to develop aftermarket services catered to customer's needs and respond faster and better to incidents in the field utilising the eFAST data ecosystem on these aircraft,” he notes.

Currently eFAST is only available for the PW1500G engines which power the Bombardier C Series but Sylvestro says he expects this technology to be extended to the PW1100G-JM in the future. “With regard to benefits, the GTF engine incorporates 40% more sensors than the V2500 engine, and can generate approximately 4 million data points per engine per flight, enabling significant improvements in addressing unplanned maintenance,” he emphasises.

As with any engine programme, the V2500 has had a number of iterations, each of which has improved performance. The first upgrade, which entered service in October 2008, was the SelectOne configuration. This brought improvements in the high pressure compressor (3D aerofoils and an elliptical leading edge), the low pressure turbine and high pressure turbine (better aerofoil cooling, advanced sealing, new materials and coatings). The results included a 1% additional fuel burn saving, a time-on-wing improvement of up to 20%, a greater EGT margin and fewer shop visits.

Then came the SelectTwo upgrade, which was certified in 2014 and entered service early the following year. Nowadays the V2500 SelectTwo is ‘the bill of material for new production deliveries’. “Approximately one quarter of the V2500-A5 engines in the fleet are SelectTwo configuration, 35% are SelectOne and 40% are the classic A5 configuration,” Sylvestro reports.

“To upgrade to SelectTwo from the SelectOne configuration, operators must deploy a software change, which optimises the fuel flow consumption during descent and taxi and which generates a 0.6% fuel burn improvement for a 500 nm mission. The upgrade from SelectOne to SelectTwo can be done on wing,” he adds.

V-Services was IAE’s suite of aftermarket services for the V2500, but as with PureSolutions, these are also now being incorporated into the ever expanding smorgasbord of EngineWise options. Sylvestro reports that the number of customers for these services is on a steady upswing.

“Today, there are about 60 V2500 engine customers that operate or manage engines under one of several types of long-term maintenance agreements available under our EngineWise services. That represents over 65% of the V2500-A5 engine fleet and growth from about 55% in 2013,” he confirms.

Back in June 2012, Pratt & Whitney bought Rolls-Royce’s share of IAE. However, the UK engine maker is still responsible for the manufacture of high-pressure compressors, fan blades and discs. It also has a hand in engineering support and final assembly. >>


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