Analyzing Hard-to-reach Engine Parts
Similar to a blood test for humans, the new technology – developed by a team of chemists and engineers at P&WC – examines each particle individually. By looking at the alloy composition, size, shape and interaction behaviour, it enables identification of specific components at risk as well as their level of degradation.
The technology is focused on identifying deterioration of oil-wetted parts such as bearings and gears. Given their location in the heart of the engine, these parts are challenging to inspect on-wing. In most cases, checking them requires removing the engine and sending it to a service centre.
Typically, the deterioration of oil-wetted parts is only detected at an advanced stage, once enough debris has accumulated to bridge the chip detector or switch the filter into bypass mode. When this occurs, maintenance actions must be taken immediately, leaving little time to confirm findings or plan logistics. Predictive maintenance based on oil analysis, however, completely eliminates that problem.
Complementing Other Predictive Maintenance Programs
The Oil Analysis Technology program complements P&WC's FAST solution, which looks at hundreds of performance-related parameters, such as speed, temperature and pressure, to provide near-real-time awareness of engine health, usage and trends.
FAST technology transmits engine data wirelessly for analysis after the pilot shuts down the engines. Combined with the new Oil Analysis Technology program, which offers specific information about engine parts that are not digitally connected, operators can now expect even greater precision for predictive maintenance planning, ensuring an accurate picture of the status of their engine and more engine availability.
Extensive Technology Trial Completed
Over 380 P&WC customers volunteered to test the Oil Analysis Technology. Participants received oil sampling kits, with return shipping pre-paid, and were sent summary reports on the progression of the new service. They stayed on their regular maintenance schedule throughout the trial.
One of the participants was Air Tahiti, which saw the technology’s benefits immediately. The airline operates some of the longest over-water flights in the world for ATR regional aircraft. Since it flies in isolated tropical regions, parts and spare engines can take many days to arrive where they are needed. Unexpected maintenance events can cause significant delays in service – at a high cost to the company. It's therefore essential for Air Tahiti to plan engine repairs as far in advance as possible.
Known for their best-in-class maintenance practices, Air Tahiti participated in P&WC’s new Oil Analysis Technology trial along with its engine condition trend monitoring (ECTM) program. Early results from the Oil Analysis Technology program enabled them to proactively schedule maintenance at suitable intervals.