Farnborough Air Show

Jet-Care alerts crews to first sign of engine failure

 - November 15, 2006, 9:52 AM

With aircraft being pushed toward the edges of their flight envelopes here in the daily aerial displays at Farnborough International, their crews need real certainty that all is well with the engines. Helping to give them this assurance is local company Jet-Care which is providing its patented oil and engine debris analysis service for all aircraft here at the show this week.

Together with its U.S. sister company Spectro, Odiham-based Jet-Care continuously monitors the health of more than 13,000 engines in over 80 countries. Many operators take advantage of the firm’s Echo reporting software, which sends them all the test data via e-mail, with full sample analysis indicating engine performance trends and alerts. For fleet operators, the service helps them to make long-term decisions about maintenance, parts procurement and other planning and purchasing decisions.

If the tests reveal an immediate concern, Jet-Care will telephone an urgent warning through to the operator’s technical staff. Otherwise, the company generally delivers results within 48 hours of the tests, conducted at its laboratories in the United Kingdom, New Jersey and Switzerland.

Oil and debris analysis checks metal and other contamination in oil samples using scanning electron microscopes and inductively coupled plasma techniques that can detect particles down to one part in 100 million. This could prevent, for example, excessive wear in one subassembly from damaging others, according to Peter Smith, Spectro’s head of technical services.

“We are constantly looking for changes to oil-related [for example] wear of casings and bearings,” he explained. “You can get magnesium in a casing or titanium in a shaft.

“We look for hydraulic fluid contamination and fuel in oil. Leaks in a fuel-cooled oil cooler can be found from changes in viscosity. We look at oil wear elements and physical properties.”

Spectro, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, recently won a 10-year contract from the UK Ministry of Defence to monitor the Honeywell ALF502 turbofans powering a pair of Royal Air Force British Aerospace 146 transports. It analyzes oil and filters from Honeywell TFE731 engines on the RAF’s BAe 125 executive jets.