After quietly launching its bizav oil-analysis maintenance prognostic service for Pratt & Whitney Canada engines earlier this year, the Canadian OEM now has some 800 operators using the service for more than 8,000 engines powering four aircraft types.
Operator acceptance of the engine OEM’s new oil-analysis service has been “quite good,” Bjorn Stickling, P&WC’s director of digital engine services, told AIN. He said that to date P&WC has made the service available commercially for the PW306A engine powering the Gulfstream G200; the PW617F1-E powering the Embraer Phenom 100; the PT6A-67B and PT6A-67P powering the Pilatus PC-12 family; and the PT6A-62 powering the South Korea-made KAI KT-1 Woongbi basic military trainer.
Stickling said that P&WC is continuing to build its maintenance-prognostics database by analyzing thousands of oil samples provided by customers beta-testing the service. The OEM is “not far away” from offering the service commercially for the PT6A-114/114A powering the Cessna Caravan and the PT6A-140 powering the Grand Caravan; and the PT6A-64, PT6A-66, and PT6A-66D powering the Daher TBM family, he added.
P&WC (Booth 3238) is trying to make its oil-analysis service available “across the board” to every member of an aircraft family for which it offers the service commercially. “We have a lot of samples and we are growing the baseline” of data for prognostics purposes, “but there is no specific target date” by which P&WC is planning to make the service available for any particular additional aircraft models, said Stickling. That said, “We still have the trial available for customers for engine models we haven’t commercialized.”
While no specific target dates have been set for commercializing further engine models, Stickling said the oil-analysis is available immediately for the PW800 turbofan family as it goes into service on the Gulfstream G500 and G600 and the Dassault Falcon 6X. He said P&WC will be making the service available for further engine models “over the next six to 12 months” and confirmed that ultimately P&WC is planning to make it available for every business-aviation engine model it manufactures.
Stickling said P&WC’s new oil-analysis technology is about 100 times more sensitive “than other technologies out there” in detecting metal debris in engine oil samples, and “we can determine with more precision the alloys” contained in any metal debris from oil-wetted parts. The technology is so sensitive that P&WC can determine from which particular area of a component any metal debris has come.
P&WC’s oil-analysis service works by observing component-wear trends and making the operator aware of any failure trend “before it gets close to the acceleration curve,” said Stickling. “It is a trending service,” not a tool for analyzing and repairing an AOG-causing failure after the fact, he stressed.
The service enables earlier detection of engine-component wear and “allows us to trend it and work with the operator” to manage maintenance of its engines proactively, said Stickling. “Knowing the modes [of failure] and the histories of components allows us to work with operators to manage the situation and continue flying. We can manage the spacing [of the sampling] and can time it with the maintenance intervals.”
To use the service, operators go to P&WC’s online customer portal and purchase a sampling kit, which P&WC ships to them with return shipping pre-paid. Upon receiving a sample from an operator, P&W typically analyzes it and makes the results available to the customer via the online portal within 24 hours.
While some component-failure modes propagate more rapidly than others, P&WC usually can advise a customer of a potential part failure 200 to 300 hours before it happens, “and in some cases much more,” said Stickling. This lets P&WC advise the operator to remove an engine or replace a particular module, depending on the nature of the forthcoming failure, to prevent it happening at all.
“As we get into commercialization, the feedback [from customers] has been very good, particularly on the Phenom 100 and PC-12,” he said. P&WC has been able to advise Phenom 100 operators of failure trends well in advance of them causing AOG situations, “particularly on situations that used to catch them off guard,” for instance with engine bearings. “We can give operators a heads-up; we see the progression [of the component wear] and we keep the operator updated, so the operator can plan a maintenance intervention” long before any AOG event occurs.