Data on Trends Drives Proactive Decision-making
The more in-depth engine knowledge, available through the FAST™ solution, is giving the RFDS new, actionable insights into its fleet's operations.
For instance, when analyzing data, the RFDS Safety Department noticed that there was an unusual number of “higher speed and descent rate” alerts for aircraft flying into Sydney. The organisation investigated further and discovered that air traffic control, whilst attempting to fast track our approaches, was placing our aircraft in a state inconsistent with the RFDS’s operational procedures.
The RFDS contacted Sydney’s air traffic control about it and arranged for their personnel to accompany RFDS pilots on flights into the airport. In return, the organization's pilots visited the air traffic control centre to learn more about the environment there. Following this exchange, air traffic control made adjustments to accommodate the RFDS fleet’s standards, resolving the higher speed and decent rate alerts and creating a positive impact on operational safety.
“We didn’t really know what was happening until we had the FAST™ data,” comments Justin. “Sometimes we knew we were getting over-torques, over-temps, things like that, but we didn’t have the full-flight profile.”
He adds that, in general, FAST™ data provides more visibility whenever the RFDS needs to investigate an engine or operational event: “We get a better picture now of what was happening when the event took place. It’s good, instant information that makes the whole investigation process a lot easier for us.”
Better Planning = Faster Turnaround Time
With a hot section inspection is fast approaching for one of its engines, the RFDS can look at FAST™ data combined with other information, such as past borescope results, to better plan. Determining what parts will be needed, obtaining them in advance and performing maintenance work without delay can all expedite the process.
"Traditionally, we’d open up the engine not knowing anything about what was happening inside, then have to order parts from overseas, which takes time. Now, we can have the parts there before it’s open and be ready. With the FAST™ data, turnaround times for hot section inspections have become fairly seamless."
- JUSTIN DEGOTARDI, AIRWORTHINESS MANAGER, ROYAL FLYING DOCTOR SERVICE SOUTHEASTERN SECTION
Training is another area of the RFDS's operations that has benefited from the engine health data provided by FAST™. Thanks to the improved understanding of engine trends and flight profiles, the RFDS's Head of Flight Operations has been able to adjust his training plan and tailor the content, including flight simulators, to reflect what pilots should know.
Full-flight Engine Health Data Helps Maintenance Planning for Extreme Conditions
RFDS’s fleet operates in extreme heat and sometimes rough terrain, which takes a heavy long-term toll on even a durable engine like the PT6A. This means it requires more intensive maintenance than an engine used under standard flying conditions.
For Justin, FAST™ technology offers the advantage the 24/7-365 aeromedical organization needs to make it easier to schedule and perform maintenance—and he is confident that the organization will benefit from the data even more in future. “I think we’re still learning how much we can get out of this technology, but from what I’ve seen in the initial stages, the whole system is very positive,” he told Airtime.
Read more about how P&WC is using big data and cutting-edge digital technologies in our articles on the Proactive-Help Desk for PW300 engines and other tailored customer service solutions.