EcoPower proves the value of clean engines

 - February 19, 2008, 9:14 PM

Pratt & Whitney expects to triple the number of engines it washes under its EcoPower program this year, claiming the fuel-saving cleaning process has become “increasingly popular” with airlines.

The company plans to expand the availability of its engine washing technology beyond the existing 11 service centers in the U.S. and Europe to include regional centers and an increase in mobile units capable of washing engines in situ.

“Airlines that wash their engines regularly are getting more time on wing and finding that fuel burn is reduced by as much as 1.2 percent,” said Anupam Bhargava, general manager of line maintenance services at P&W’s Global Service Partners. “We’re also seeing an increase in engine exhaust gas temperature [EGT] margins of as much as 15 degrees C.”

The EcoPower program began in 2005. Since then Pratt & Whitney has washed more than 1,000 engines. The process involves a closed-loop, environmentally friendly system using atomized water. P&W claims the system avoids potentially harmful run-off from the washing process and is more effective and much faster than traditional engine washing techniques.

Bhargava said P&W operates a 24-hour answering service for emergency EcoPower treatment, citing the recent example of an airline arriving at San Francisco airport with below-level EGT margins, which would under normal circumstances have kept the aircraft on the ground. “We carried out an EcoPower wash which recovered the lost performance,” he said. He recommends, however, that airlines try to plan ahead. “Being pro-active means they get better long-term fuel burn, lower emissions and higher time on-wing,” he said.

An added benefit of the program is the provision of fuel burn and emissions data to customers. “We quantify these figures by looking at the performance of the engine for 30 cycles before and after the EcoPower wash,” said Bhargava. “That gives airlines a lot of very useful statistical material for their engine databases.”