Paris Air Show

A giant behind the scenes highlights its blisk repair

 - June 14, 2007, 6:45 AM

No aircraft flies with MTU engines, and yet MTU is involved in one third of all aircraft engine programs. MTU is the largest independent maintenance provider for aircraft engines and is associated with the production in many major engine programs. It is also leading Europe’s NEWAC research program, aiming to develop a new-technology engine-core concept.

The MTU display here at the Paris Air Show features the company’s one-third participation in the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan development program based on the PW6000 and new blisk repair techniques. Blisk stands for integrally bladed disk, that is, where the manufacturer combines blade and disk into a single piece. The process eliminates the need for blade roots and disk slots and provides for maximum performance at minimum weight. In addition, it allows reducing the number of turbine stages, because of higher stage loads, and permits a longer service life.

However, once blade maintenance becomes necessary, the job is more demanding than just fixing on new blades, and changing the entire disk would be expensive. MTU has developed new maintenance techniques for blisks to make this task less onerous.

The large German company is active in both aircraft engine production and maintenance, having been formed in 1996 when MTU Aero Engines separated from MTU Diesel Engines. Last year it achieved worldwide sales of €2.41 billion ($3.2 million) with a staff of 6,700. Of this total, production of subassemblies for commercial engines generated €993 million ($1.32 billion) and military engines €490 million ($651 million). Income from maintenance and overhaul amounted to €954 million ($1.26 million). In the meantime, the employee count has increased to more than 7,000, of which close to 6,000 are employed in Germany and the rest at half a dozen locations around the world.

On the military side, MTU participates in the development and production of the 11,000-shp TP400-D6 turboprop engine for the Airbus A400M military transport, developed in partnership with Britain’s Rolls-Royce, French group Snecma and ITP of Spain. The company is also involved in the EJ200 turbofan powering the Eurofighter with the same partners, plus Avio from Italy. The MTR 390 shaft engine for the German-French combat helicopter Tiger is another major development and manufacturing program, carried out with Turbomeca and Rolls-Royce. In addition, MTU has a 3.5-percent participation in the F414 engine produced by General Electric for Boeing’s F/A-18 combat jet.

MTU participates with shares varying between 11 and 25 percent in a wide variety of jet engines for airliners and business aircraft. For instance, the German company works with Pratt & Whitney Canada on the PW300 and 500 for executive aircraft, and the PW2000, 4000 and 6000  families for airliners. For many of these engines, MTU produces compressors and turbines, plus other subassemblies. The PW6000, currently used on the A318 twinjet, is assembled at MTU’s Hanover facility.

One of the company’s oldest active participation programs is General Electric’s CF6-50, in production for the past 25 years, and the more recent -80 version. These engines–powering large aircraft such as the A300, A310 and A330, the Boeing 767 and 747, as well as the DC-10 and out-of-production MD-11–provide a considerable workload for MTU’s maintenance shops.

The V2500 of International Aero Engines (Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce and the Japanese Aero Engine Corp.) is another high-volume program for MTU, since it powers the popular Airbus A319/320/321 family. IAE produces 360 of these engines per year and MTU achieves an 11-percent share of the work by supplying the low-pressure turbines.

The giant GP7000 engine powers the A380, the world’s largest airliner. MTU has an
11-percent share with the high-pressure and the low-pressure turbines and the center frame. The main partners in this program are General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Snecma.

MTU’s headquarters is in Munich, where the company employs some 4,000 engine specialists and administrative staff. The facility is active in development, production and maintenance. The company has a large facility at Hanover Airport with a staff of more than 1,300, where it maintains large commercial engines and produces subassemblies. The facility at Berlin Brandenburg maintains smaller commercial engines for business jets.

The MTU operation at Richmond, Canada, specializes in the maintenance of CFM56 and CF-6-50 engines, and a company plant in Zhuhai, China, maintains all V2500 and CFM56 engines powering Chinese airliners. MTU has other facilities and joint ventures in the U.S., France and Malaysia.