PT6 Hot Section Inspections: Some tips from the field

April 8, 2005
This article on PT-6 hot section tips was written by Standard Aero's Kelly M. McCallum, and originally ran in the September 2001 issue of AMT. Due to several reader inquiries on the article, we have decided to feature it again as a resource for those performing hot sections on these engines.

Editors note: The following article on PT-6 hot section tips was written by Standard Aero's Kelly M. McCallum, and originally ran in the September 2001 issue of AMT. Due to several reader inquiries on the article, we have decided to feature it again as a resource for those performing hot sections on these engines.

Unscheduled hot sections

If the hot section inspection you are performing is unscheduled due to performance related concerns, ensure that the airframe systems such as the ITT indication system and the torque meter system are calibrated properly prior to splitting the engine. You may also want to confirm by borescope inspection of the hot section that there is damage that would warrant an unscheduled inspection. Bleed valves should be checked for correct operation if suspected to be faulty. Approximately 75 percent of the time, a sudden shift in a trend cannot be attributed to hot section deterioration.

Thorough turbine rinses

Compressor washes should be carried out on a regular basis, using the solution specified in the related maintenance manual. There is a tendency for some operators to not perform a turbine rinse after the compressor wash. If you don't perform this rinse, the corrosive solution that is pulled through the compressor to the hot section area during the wash will sit and corrode the turbine blades. Don't assume that a water rinse through the compressor will remove all of the solution from the turbine area.

If the compressor turbine (CT) blades show evidence of sulfidation (in particular, stage 2) during the hot section inspection, and are deemed to be acceptable for reinstallation, ensure that turbine rinses are subsequently performed on a regular basis. If operating your aircraft in an area with high amounts of atmospheric pollutants, or close to saltwater, then turbine washes may even be performed on a daily basis to slow any attack.

Service bulletins

Know your service bulletins. You should be aware of which SB's affect the engine's life-limited components, and which cover the engine time between overhaul (TBO) considerations.

Cycle/life limits

When re-installing the compressor turbine (CT) or power turbine (PT) after the individual component inspection, ensure that there are enough cycles remaining on the component to make it to the next scheduled inspection interval. If there aren't enough cycles remaining, then this should be flagged in the engine logbook so that the turbine will be removed when it reaches its life limit.

CT vane ring burning/material loss

The P&WC maintenance manual states that burning/material loss at the trailing edge location of the CT vane ring is unacceptable, and that the vane ring will require replacement due to this condition. Please note that if this condition exists, it is recommended that a designated overhaul/repair facility be contacted for evaluation assistance. This is important, as a set of turbine blades that have been run behind a vane with material loss beyond P&WC Overhaul Manual limitations will require replacement due to excessive blade cyclic loading. The hot section may, therefore, have to be shipped to an authorized repair facility to perform this blade replacement.

Oil filter and strainer

Try to get into the habit of checking the engine oil filter along with the RGB strainer. My recommendation is to perform these two checks at the beginning of the inspection. Performing a full hot section inspection on an engine that may be making metal would not prove to be cost-effective. This is also a good time to see if your engine oil filter requires replacement due to life limitations.

Compressor blade damage

When checking your first stage compressor blades for erosion, etc., ensure that there is no foreign object damage (FOD) that may not be allowable per the maintenance manual criteria. If you don't do this, you could waste money and time if you start the hot section inspection, only to find out later that the compressor blades are damaged beyond limits and the engine needs to be removed from the airframe.

Ignition system

During the inspection, check your ignition and/or glow plugs for wear. Worn plugs may cause your engine to not light off correctly during the starting procedure, and subsequent damage to the hot section may result.

Maintaining class

A similar class of PT vane should be installed if replacing this item in the field. This is also the manner in which a CT vane replacement should be handled. Ensure that the class value is observed and maintained within the specified limitations.

Checking for proper fit

Ensure that the fit of the CT shroud housing to the small exit duct (SED) is tight. This should be observed on all engine models. A good check, one can perform on the -28 series engine, for instance, is to place the two parts together as if assembled, but not to secure with bolts. Then, grip the shroud housing at the sealing ring location and lift the two parts together, slightly off of the work surface to see if the two parts remain together. If they do not, chances are that the fit is not sufficient.

If the CT vane ring to SED clearance is not sufficient, it is recommended that the SED lugs be stoned (ground), rather than the vane slots. This is equally as important with the fit between the vane ring and the #2 bearing cover. Get into the habit of stoning the bearing cover and not the vane ring. Why? If you stone too far, and take a part outside its acceptable tolerance in that particular area, it is much cheaper to replace either the SED or the #2 bearing cover in comparison to the vane ring.


In regards to clearances, always try to aim for the minimum size. If the clearance for instance, on your CT vane ring slots to the SED lugs is at max when performing the hot section inspection, where is it going to be in 1,750 hours?

Remove the sealing ring(s) from the engine and install on either the inside of the PT stator housing, or around the CT shroud housing depending on the engine model. You can then check the fit with a .002-inch feeler blade around the circumference of the two mating parts. If you find that this feeler blade will fit between the sealing ring and the shroud/stator housing for an area of 60 degrees or more, then re-index the ring and re-check for a gap. Typically, a gap of 60 degrees or less is acceptable, providing engine performance is satisfactory.

Always ensure that the sealing ring be installed with the "pressure side" facing the correct direction in the hot section. Be sure that when installing rings in engines with the two-ring configuration that the gaps are staggered 180 degrees for the best seal.

Zero grind

The "zero grind" is a significant time saver when reinstalling a repaired hot section in the field. Minimizing the need to touch-up grind "tight spots" will certainly help you to get your hot section inspection completed more quickly. Here are a couple of additional tips to follow that may allow you to not have to perform a touch-up grind:

  1. Install your hot section and hold in place with four bolts as opposed to the required 16 for an initial clearance check. Do not secure the washers.

  2. Load your hot section as applicable, with four rubber blocks, to simulate the loading that the hot section will see while the engine is running.

  3. Install the CT disk per the manufacturer's instructions, and measure the tip clearances. Do not lock the bolt. Tip clearance is typically measured at the trailing edge of the blade over two to three locations per segment. Remember that you may have to load the disk in a particular direction while measuring the clearance as per specific instructions.

  4. If you find that the tip clearance is slightly tight in one location, and loose in another location, you can then try to "index" the hot section. This includes removing the disk assembly, then the four hot section bolts, and then the hot section. You can then rotate the hot section 90 or 180 degrees (as necessary) and repeat steps 1 to 3. Repeat the procedure as necessary to achieve the optimum fit.

Once the optimum fit is achieved, remove the CT disk assembly, install and secure all hot section bolts, and then re-install and secure the CT disk assembly. You can then remove the four rubber blocks and complete the installation of the remaining hot section components. Final assembly of the engine can then be finalized.

It may take you a little more time than normal to perform this check, but having a uniform average tip clearance around the entire circumference of the disk to shroud, and preventing "tight-spots," can significantly reduce the risk of having a turbine tip rub.

Care when marking components

Remember to always use a P&WC approved marker or silver pencil when identifying or index marking components. Failure to do so could result in a "hot spot" forming on the marked component and a possible failure could then occur.

These are some hot section tips I have learned that should prove beneficial. As with any maintenance action, be sure to refer to the manufacturer's maintenance manual and all applicable data. Happy Inspecting! AMT

About the Author

Kelly Mccallum