EBACE Convention News

Spectro offers engine health classes

 - November 28, 2006, 8:35 AM

Spectro in the UK and its Jet-Care sister operation in the U.S. (Booth No. 220) report growing demand for their oil and engine debris analysis services. The two companies’ programs highlight damage and abnormal wear to engine components such as disks, blades, stators and gears that might escape routine flight-line inspection.

To provide an overview of Jet-Care’s engine-condition trend-monitoring and health online (ECTM and Echo) services, two 45-minute workshops are being held here at the EBACE show tomorrow (10 a.m. and 11.15 a.m. in “Le Cervin” meeting room).

Recent new Spectro business in North America has included work on the U.S. Coast Guard HH-65 Dauphin helicopter fleet’s new Turbomeca Arriel 2C2CG powerplants and all engines and gearboxes operated by Eurocopter Mexico. Recent Jet-Care customers include police and fire departments in California, Maryland and Texas; offshore energy company ERA Aviation; and rotorcraft operators Heavy Lift and Rogers Helicopters.

In Europe, Swiss maintenance center Triebwerk Unterhalt has placed a three-year contract renewal covering Turbomeca’s engine fleet in Switzerland, while Helicopters Italia–part of Eurocopter’s service network–has contracted Spectro to look after Turbomeca engines in Italy.

In the UK, the Ministry of Defence has awarded Jet-Care a 10-year engine-condition monitoring contract covering Honeywell (Avco Lycoming) ALF502 turbofans powering two Royal Air Force (RAF) British Aerospace 146 passenger transports. Spectro already analyzes oil and filters from Honeywell TFE731 engines on RAF BAe 125 executive jets.

TLC for More than 13,000 Engines

Together, Spectro and Jet-Care are continuously monitoring the health of more than 13,000 engines in over 70 countries, in laboratories in Switzerland, the UK and the U.S. Many customers take advantage of the Echo software reporting program, under which they receive small e-mail data files and (after sample analysis) can review the results and any alerts or data trends.

Specific results that raise concerns can stimulate telephone warnings to operators within hours. Otherwise, results can be provided typically within 48 hours. Fleet operators are said to find Echo particularly useful because they can make long-term decisions about overhaul, maintenance, parts procurement and other planning and purchasing decisions. The Echo system now covers debris as well as oil analysis.

Oil and debris analysis checks metal and other contamination contained in oil samples, using scanning electron microscopes and inductively coupled plasma techniques that can detect particles down to one part in 100 million. Such analysis can prevent, say, excessive wear in one sub-assembly from damaging others, according to Spectro technical services head Peter Smith.

“We are constantly looking for changes to oil related to [for example] wear of casings and bearings. 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 also look at [oil] wear elements and physical properties,” said Smith.

Spectro is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. In addition to its UK and U.S. facilities, the firm has a laboratory close to Zurich in Switzerland.