In other words, good data helps AMTs improve the reliability and utility of the aircraft, and build the confidence of their owners and operators. I asked Eagleton to look in his crystal ball and tell me about the next generation product in the pipeline. Per Eagleton, the next version of the ECTM-DD that is projected to be out mid-year 2010 will be automatic without the need for anyone to press that one button. (Did you catch that, Fred?)
My hat goes off to the many AMTs who support corporate and business aircraft. They deserve support and assistance from all available resources, including the latest maintenance technology. For all the Larry Watkins of the world, these systems will change the way they work and think.
Whether you are a lone ranger or part of the maintenance organization that supports a large corporation’s fleet, AMTs now can have access to empirical data that will let you know the real-time health of your engines. As maintainers, we know that even the most well-made parts will eventually wear out, and Murphy’s Law will remain a constant in our industry. However, by having technology that provides us with the ability to plan ahead, so that when our airplanes break in those faraway places, we can implement the right fix that gets the aircraft back in service faster than ever before.
These remote diagnostic tools won’t ever replace the knowledge AMTs develop through real-world experience. They will provide a solid base for a total maintenance system that is far superior to the way engines have been cared for in the past.
Charles Chandler is AMT’s Field Editor. A Texas-based A&P, he received his training at Spartan College of Aeronautics.
Who is watching your engines?
Next time you fly on a major airline, take a glance out the window, and take comfort in knowing the health of the engine is monitored by a bunch of very smart people using some very smart technology. I should be watched this closely. Airlines have been using engine condition monitoring systems for a while. Users are typically the main line air carriers, whose engineers oversee large fan engines. These engineers constantly review data, to catch any decline in engine performance before the flight crews receive indications or experience an in-flight event. In today’s economy, managing the cost of engine maintenance and spares is critical. Engine performance, fuel burn, line replaceable units (LRU) cycles, and shop visits all equal costs. Engine monitoring systems can help avoid expensive, unscheduled hot section overhauls or major engine failure. While many airlines have their own engine monitoring systems, many look to the engine OEMs for support.
For those who attended the MRO AMERICAS conference last April in Grapevine, TX, I hope you attended Frank Albert’s, Pratt & Whitney’s general manager of engine management programs, presentation titled OEMRO: Leveraging Technology for Service Application.
P&W has a robust engine maintenance solution that includes an engine management program (EMP). P&W’s EMP uses the Advanced Diagnostics & Engine Management (ADEM) system which includes web-enabled software tools. With this system, customers transmit data by the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, email or manually through the web. Data is processed 24/7, and sends alerts to customers. Data can also be accessed via a secure, customized web portal.
Another advantage P&W EMP offers engine owner/operators is the tailoring of an EMP to match their fleet and budget. P&W can provide expert data analysis, reporting, and recommendations provided by a dedicated point of contact, or customers can choose to monitor their fleet themselves leveraging ADEM tools including trend and aberration reports, fault diagnostics, and fleet watch lists, among others. EMP service options move up from there to full program management that covers engine removal forecasts, spare engine support, maintenance planning, and engine overhauls at P&W facilities.
In talking with Albert, I asked him about the biggest benefit he sees for customers using P&W EMP services. “Customers can detect small problems before they become big problems,” Albert explains. “Customers can be proactive and manage engine maintenance cycles, keeping their engines on the wings longer.” Having worked full engine overhauls, I know that when the engine is on the wing it’s making money. When off, the costs start adding up!
Zing enables rapid data downloads, early problem detection and faster return to service.
Honeywell offers Zing, a remote aircraft diagnostic service for aircraft equipped with TFE731 engines. Zing is a service package that includes avionics hardware, wireless connectivity, and...
Diagnostic and prognostic systems reduce helicopter downtime, lower maintenance costs, and improve safety.