The Pratt & Whitney Canada PW100 turboprop engine has millions of flight hours behind it, aided by maintenance programmes designed with cost-effectiveness in mind.
Across all airline operations, the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families are often referred to as the workhorses of the industry – and rightly so.
Move into the turboprop sector and although the numbers don’t match those of the single-aisle narrowbodies, two aircraft families – from ATR and Bombardier (now De Havilland of Canada) – have dominated and the workhorse behind them has been the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW100 family of engines.
In addition to maintaining the engines on those aircraft still in production, there are many out-of-production types which have PW100 family engines still in operations. Among these types are the Dornier 328, Embraer EMB120 Brasilia, Fokker 50, Ilyushin IL-114-100 and Xian Aircraft MA-60.
In addition to its own MRO facilities around the world, Pratt & Whitney Canada, like many other OEMs, has a network of third party MRO providers which have been granted Designated Overhaul Facilities (DOF) status.
StandardAero is one such company, carrying out work at a range of facilities across the US, Canada, Europe and the Asia-Pacific. Moreover, the company is one of only two DOFs for the bigger PW150 engine used on De Havilland Dash 8-400.
Nathan Key is the customer service manager at the company P&WC’s Designed Overhaul Facility (DOF) in Summerside, PE, Canada.
He sets out an evaluation of the key areas of concern when a PW100 family engine comes in for a scheduled overhaul and how much that might differ depending on the geographical region where the engine is operating.
“A scheduled overhaul – whether undertaken on a ‘hard time’ basis as 8,000 hours, or more commonly ‘on-condition’ at longer interval – will usually see full replacement of life-limited parts (LLP), especially in the engine’s hot section,” he begins. “The key areas of interest will include detailed inspection for any unusual areas of engine wear, plus identification of any opportunities for ‘repair rather than replace,’ thus helping to minimise costs for the operator.
“The operating environments can have a direct impact on engine life, with obvious examples including salt-laden environments (for example, coastal areas), sandy environments (such as deserts), and even environments contaminated with volcanic ash (as was the case in Iceland after the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruptions). Corrosive harsh environments may affect critical housings which may have otherwise been deemed repairable,” adds Key.
As noted, the OEM itself has its own maintenance facilities in its global service network.
Those specialising in PW100 support are in the USA, Canada, Brazil, Singapore and the UK. The company also has its take on the key areas involved in a scheduled overhaul and the effect of geographical regions.
“As is typical in the industry, engines operate in all kinds of environments – some more benign and some more severe. We’re always learning, making design changes, issuing software updates and adjusting maintenance plans and practices accordingly,” says a company spokesperson.
“As operators have deployed increasing numbers of regional aircraft in more severe environments, we have increased the capability of the PW100 engine family accordingly. For example, we have increased maximum take-off power for our PW127 series engines from 32°C to 44°C (about 90°F to about 111°F).”
For many years PW&C has offered its regional airline customers a Fleet Management Program (FMP) that allows them to most effectively manage – and budget for – the maintenance of their PW100 family engines.
“We help customers lock in lower operating costs and simplify fleet operations management. For example, roughly seven out of every 10 of our PW150 family engines are enrolled in an FMP,” the spokesperson adds.
“As another example, we have developed a suite of event-based, transactional offers known as P&WCSMART services, designed to address the needs of mature PW100 engines. Our P&WCSMART portfolio for PW100 family engines includes an overhaul parts capped cost programme, a hot section inspection (HSI) capped cost programme and more.”
Preventive maintenance has grown considerably including the ability to track the health of the engine and thus provide some predictability for when parts need to be replaced.
“We offer several digital engine services that help us and our customers to maximise engine performance, efficiency, dispatch reliability and time on wing. These include our FAST (Full flight data Acquisition, Storage and Transmission) solution, which delivers full-flight engine data, as well as our oil analysis technology,” remarks P&WC’s spokesperson.
“The FAST solution captures, analyses and wirelessly sends full-flight data intelligence to customers within minutes of engine shutdown so we and our customers can maximise engine and aircraft availability, optimise maintenance planning and reduce operating costs. With FAST, we’re able to analyse hundreds of distinct engine and aircraft parameters – enabling on-condition predictive maintenance, extended time on wing and maintenance cost guarantees.
“Our oil analysis technology is up to 100 times more sensitive than traditional methods. It allows us to detect deterioration of oil-wetted parts like bearings, gears and seals, at times hundreds of hours before a potential issue. This helps convert unplanned events into scheduled maintenance,” the company states.
StandardAero also has a preventive maintenance offering. “We’re uniquely positioned as a PW100 Designated Overhaul Facility which is also appointed as a CAMP Systems Designated Analysis Center (DAC),” says Key.
“This allows us to support the engine condition trend monitoring (ECTM) services offered for the full range of Pratt & Whitney Canada products, including the PW100. By capturing and analysing engine data recorded in flight, engine health monitoring is able to identify small problems before they become big problems, thereby maximising operator safety and aircraft availability while minimising maintenance costs. The key parameters tracked include engine interstage turbine temperature (ITT), high pressure spool speed (NH), low pressure spool speed (NL), and fuel flow (WF).”
“Repairing rather than replacing” is a goal of MRO companies, who seek to keep the costs down for their customers.
These providers also ensure that operators can reduce their capital outlay on components by providing a pool of parts from which a replacement can be swapped for a part that is going into the repair process.
The parts in the pool can be either repaired or new, because obviously when a part reaches the point where it is beyond economic repair, a new part must be brought into the pool to ensure that stocks do not go below a required minimum.
According to Nathan Key, StandardAero has a dedicated in-house engine trading team, which is able to assist operators with their parts, module and engine material requirements, including both new and used serviceable material.
“We have a large pool of PW100 rental engines available to support operators on a short- or long-term basis, and also offer parts pools for certain critical components,” he confirms.
“Savings offered by serviceable or rotable/exchange parts can be substantial when compared to new replacement. StandardAero has developed in-house repairs where applicable to further minimise customers’ overhaul event costs. We make every effort to explore these avenues and thus maximise the options open to our customers,” Key declares.
One customer keen to make use of these StandardAero services is Silver Airways, which recently signed a long-term contract for support of the P&WC PW127M engines on its growing fleet of ATR -600 aircraft.
StandardAero will provide the carrier with “comprehensive engine services” including responsive overhaul-level support and engine condition trend monitoring (ECTM).
The support will be led by the Summerside facility where customer service manager Key is based, but Silver Airways will also have access to all of StandardAero’s North American network of service centres and mobile repair teams (MRTs).
As would be expected, Pratt & Whitney Canada also has extensive services in parts pooling, but as is the case with OEMs in the MRO field, the range of support on offer is continuing to grow.
“We have one of the largest global service networks with more than 40 owned and designated facilities for the MRO of turboprop, turboshaft and small turbofan engines, as well as auxiliary power units (APUs),” the company spokesperson comments.
“Within this network we have eight MRO facilities across three continents for the PW100 family of engines, including PW127 series engines for the ATR 42, ATR 72 and Airbus C295, as well as PW150 series engines for the Dash 8-400 and soon the AVIC MA700 [which will use the PW150C model]. Our Customer First (CFirst) Centres in Montreal and Singapore support our customers 24 hours a day, every day of the year, by phone and email,” the company emphasises.
“We also have seven parts distribution centres around the world with around-the-clock support, with more than 40,000 new and used parts, which we can typically deliver within 24-48 hours. In addition, we have more than 100 field support representatives (FSRs) and mobile repair teams (MRTs) around the world, backed by an organisation of more than 2,000 service professionals.
“Moreover, we offer a range of tailored engine and parts availability solutions for regional airlines. We continually enhance our offerings through flexible financial and delivery models, such as subscription programmes, shared pooling options and rental options for greater operator accessibility,” the P&WC spokesperson continues.
“Our line replaceable unit (LRU) initiatives, for example, position onsite LRUs to optimise engine availability and support a rapid return to service.
“Through our growing portfolio of spare engine solutions, such as long-term leasing and our new in-region engine availability subscription programme – which we’re launching for PW150 and PT6A engines – we’re offering alternatives that ensure guaranteed access to a spare engine at all times, all of which reduces the cost of ownership and risk while maximising the return on investment (ROI),” the P&WC executive highlights.
For operators, those financial criteria are just as valid in the choice of MRO provider as the quality of repair or support. The two are interdependent. Thankfully for operators, there are plenty of choices in the market to fit operators’ requirements.