According to Pratt & Whitney Canada, it's not just the technology that's evolved with its PT6 E-Series engine - its the commercial and service package surrounding the engine, too. Here's how...
The PT6 E-Series engine has taken General Aviation engine technology to the next level. The engine’s Proactive Services are doing the same for maintenance support, intervention and planning. Pratt & Whitney Canada's experts explain how.
With the entry into service this year of the PT6 E-Series engine on the Pilatus PC-12 NGX, Pratt & Whitney’s legendary PT6A engine made an evolutionary leap. The PT6 E-Series engine technology combines the reliability for which the legacy platform is renowned with cutting-edge performance, digital control systems, an enhanced flying experience and more.
It’s not just the technology that has evolved: the commercial and service package surrounding the engine has also been enhanced. One key new feature, currently available to operators covered by the Eagle Service Plan (ESP) Platinum maintenance program, are the new Proactive Services.
“This is more than a simple help desk,” explains Robert Winchcomb, Manager, PT6 Turboprop, Owner Pilot. “It’s a team of engineers and analysts who look at the data proactively to schedule maintenance activities ahead of time and ultimately to maximize engine availability.”
By supporting the move toward a 100% planned maintenance environment, Proactive Services help customers eliminate unwelcome surprises and reduce their costs by minimizing issues or averting them entirely.
"Our team closely monitors data captured from the engine," Winchcomb says. "If they see minor trends or deviations that catch their attention, they will make a call to the Pilatus Service Center to discuss our observations and recommend what actions to take during the next scheduled downtime."
Resolving Maintenance Issues Behind the Scenes
Given its pedigree, the PT6 E-Series engine was born reliable; but bolstered by the power of new Proactive Services it features, Pratt & Whitney Canada expects the engine’s reliability will be further maximized. The goal of Proactive Services is to head off potential issues at the pass.
"Proactive Services reduce the need for unscheduled maintenance by helping Pilatus Service Centers take the right action at the right time to keep the PT6 E-Series engine in tip-top condition," Winchcomb says. "The team puts the prognostics and data in context and helps maintainers with logistics and coordination. It’s really a one-stop shop."
The Proactive Services team will explain what to do and how to do it. For instance, if parts are required, the team will guide the customer by telling them where to source them.
“Ultimately, you could say that the Proactive Services team solves problems that customers don’t even know they have,” Winchcomb adds. “Service centres are empowered to implement solutions.
"All the owner knows is that their aircraft is available whenever they need to fly," Winchcomb continues. "That’s crucial in the General Aviation market, where the business success of an owner-pilot depends on a single aircraft, or with an aeromedical operator who needs their turboprops to be ready at a moment’s notice."
Deeper Data Delivers Unprecedented Insights
The key to recommending timely, effective maintenance actions and delivering owner peace of mind is the Data Collection Transmission Unit (DCTU). Similar in principle to Pratt & Whitney's FAST solution, this system wirelessly transmits data on a host of fundamental engine parameters for analysis shortly after each flight.
“We have a reliable source of true full-flight, engine-control-system data delivered immediately after flight,” remarks Bjorn Stickling, Director, Digital Engine Services. “Automated algorithms and our expert team sift through that data to trend the engine conditions and acquire predictive and preventive insights.”
"We don’t just collect data—we turn it into actionable information that makes a difference for the customer," he adds. "We’re bringing the kind of advanced analysis that’s already available for larger fleets to smaller operators in the General Aviation market."
Unlike some data collection systems, the DCTU is designed to be an integral part of the engine, rather than being retrofitted onto the airframe. This allows insights that were not possible before, such as system health monitoring and prognostics on a sensor.
“It’s a big step forward,” notes Bjorn. “The DCTU is an integrated part of the engine. That enables us to obtain more granular information and to run prognostics at a deeper level, which in turn drives more targeted, proactive maintenance actions.”
Besides reports and recommendations provided by the Proactive Services team, operators can access the data and a total health indicator through their MyP&WC Power customer portal account, as well as receive trend and email alerts from our trending supplier. Plane-side trouble shooting is significantly enhanced by local access to the engine data using a mobile app, which makes returning the engine to service simpler.
The combination of the ESP Platinum plan, data collection, advanced analytics, proactive recommendations and simplified return to service makes a huge difference," Stickling says. "We’re helping operators focus on flying their planes rather than on maintenance issues.
Proactive Services are just one part of the comprehensive coverage offered through ESP Platinum. Learn more in the article PT6 E-Series Engine Drives Step-Change in Customer Service.