The CF34 Turns 20

A model for reliability with 10 versions to date.

“We are looking to add one service facility in Brazil and one in China sometime over the next five years. However, we are being very aggressive in the business jet market. We have 21 authorized service centers in the U.S. and are looking to grow our global centers with another 17. We will be providing mostly level 1 line maintenance at these centers. Other services are provided in a GE branded service facility or GE-authorized shop.”

MTU Maintenance Berlin-Brandenburg

One of those service providers for the repair and overhaul of the CF34 is the German company MTU Maintenance Berlin-Brandenburg, a wholly owned affiliate of MTU Aero Engines, Germany’s leading engine manufacturer and a public listed company.

GE Aviation and MTU have been cooperating closely both in the manufacturing of several engine types like the CF6, the GP7000, and the GENx and in the after sales market. This decision was based on MTU’s ability to offer especially to European CF34 customer’s facilities, technology and services that meet GE’s quality and customer service standards.

MTU Maintenance Berlin-Brandenburg was the first independent MRO provider that could service all models of the CF34 family of engines. MTU offers a vast array of services, among which are modifications, retrofitting, repair, and overhaul, on-wing services as well as engine condition monitoring, spare engine leasing, and AOG support.

MTU Maintenance Berlin-Brandenburg has been a GE-branded service provider since 2001 and has extended its agreement until 2022. The company also has signed a component repair development agreement with GE. There are about 650 employees in the facilities located south of Berlin.

Typically, their technicians complete a three-year dual apprentice program and are certified by EASA. According to Nils Fenske, director of sales and marketing CF34, this intensive training has a big impact on the quality, capacity, and turn-around times. Production figures given by Fenske were impressive.

So far, they have overhauled up to 130 CF 34 engines per year with a breakdown of 80 -3s, 25 -8s, and 25 -10s. Depending on the workload, the technicians can overhaul the -3 in about 45 to 55 days and the -8 in about 55 to 65 days. The time for overhaul on the -10 varies due to the fact that the upgrades in the scope of work require more collaboration and communication with GE staff.

I asked Fenske to give me his opinion as to why the CF34 family of engines is so reliable and durable. He suggests that it is because the engine has a very robust compressor, and hot section engines are usually pulled because of the life limits of parts and not because of wear and damage. When questioned about damage, he says that “FOD damage is usually not a significant issue and can be fixed with top case repairs rather than pulling the engine.” In fact the MTU motto is “repair beats replacement.”

It appears that the CF34 family has a bright future and long life ahead. The CF34-10E model has been performing well and developing an excellent record with 1,100 in service and 7 million hours flown. So what is next for the CF34 family? The GE interview members say, “We will continue improving the CF34-10 engines,” however, like all things, change in aviation is inevitable, expected and necessary.

As Will Rogers, my favorite philosopher said, “You may be on the right track but you will get run over if you just sit there!” GE Aviation seems to be on the right track and not just sitting on its legacy because there is a new player in town.

Mary Hussey, GE Aviation’s marketing manager for Small Commercial Engines, says the GE Passport “Next Generation” engine will soon be powering the Bombardier Global 7000 and 8000, and GE has a technology development program, called the NG34, to mature technology for the next-generation CF34 engine. What is next for the CF34 product line? Maybe time and customers will tell. Whatever occurs, our aviation techs will have plenty of interesting engine work to perform.

Charles Chandler began his aviation career as a junior mechanic for American Airlines and retired after 27 years of service.

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