P&WC Oil Analysis Technology Ready to Fuel Maintenance Decisions

By Pratt & Whitney Customer Service

Hundreds of customers continue to embrace an innovative Oil Analysis Technology as part of a successful, ongoing trial that is proving the technology's value for the predictive maintenance of hard-to-reach engine parts such as bearings and gears.

Pratt & Whitney Canada’s revolutionary new Oil Analysis Technology is now commercially available following analysis of nearly 4,000 oil engine samples from 380 operators to date. These customers participated in the technology trial over the past year, which demonstrated that oil analysis can help predict an engine's future maintenance needs without requiring the engine to be removed.

"The technology is proving to be extremely effective and versatile in its ability to detect minute particles of debris much earlier and more precisely than other oil analysis methods,” Frédérique Richard, P&WC Oil Analysis Technology Program Manager, told Airtime. “Our analysts can make predictions on specific critical maintenance quicker than ever before,” she said.

The technology is commercially available on PW306A engine-powered business aviation aircraft. It will be rolled out to other engines as the oil test knowledge base continues to grow. Ongoing trials are continuing to help the technology evolve and improve.


Gulfstream G200 PW300

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 FASTTM 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.