Your Overhaul FAQs Answered by the Experts

What are the common questions asked by aircraft owners and operators regarding upcoming engine overhauls? Gerrard Cowan asks some of the leading engine OEMs and service providers…

Gerrard Cowan  |  01st February 2021
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Gerrard Cowan
Gerrard Cowan

Gerrard Cowan is a freelance journalist who focuses on aerospace, defense and finance. He can be found...

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Rolls-Royce Technicians examine a private jet engine during overhaul

Overhauling your business jet engine can be a complex process, meaning there are plenty of frequently asked questions received by the MROs and engine manufacturers.

AvBuyer asked some of the leading companies in the sector to tell us the most common overhaul questions they field from customers in terms of technology, logistics and operations – and the answers they suggest.

1. What exactly does an overhaul entail?

The purpose of an overhaul is quite simply to restore your engine to its optimum performance level, and to improve fuel consumption, says Timothy Swail, Vice President, Customer Programs at Pratt & Whitney.

The overhaul process involves the complete disassembly of the engine, he adds, with each part carefully examined according to the engine manuals for wear or damage.

Depending on the situation, these parts are either repaired or replaced with new or used serviceable parts. When the overhauled engine is reassembled it is then tested for performance validation and signed off by technical experts.

According to James Prater, Vice President, Customer Support – Business Aviation at Rolls-Royce, customers of its CorporateCare Enhanced engine maintenance program often inquire about what is and isn’t covered during a shop visit.

Anything that is provided through the program is covered, Prater notes, including corrosion and erosion of the engine and the nacelle. The only exceptions are for Foreign Object Damage (FOD), neglect and expiration of the replacement time for Life-Limited Parts (LLPs), though Prater says this could be covered as an optional extra.

If your aircraft is enrolled on an hourly maintenance program, irrespective of the company providing the coverage, it’s worth clarifying with the provider what is covered well in advance of an overhaul.

2. How long will it take?

The time taken to complete an engine overhaul varies, a spokesperson for General Electric told AvBuyer. The time required can change depending on the engine model, condition, scope of work and shop availability.

Swail echoed this, noting that there are different operational performance requirements and complexities depending on the engine model. “Our owned and appointed facilities each offer different levels of support for the specific engine models, and an overhaul can take approximately 60 days,” Swail says.

“However, we will work with the customer to find an appropriate solution to get them back in service as quickly as possible.”

According to Mark Winzar, Senior Vice President of Business Development in EMEA and APAC at JSSI (an independent provider of maintenance support and financial services to the business aviation industry), turnaround time is crucial when planning an off-wing event. According to Winzar, his company begins planning for a major shop event up to a year before the due date with an operator.

Prater said Rolls-Royce works to keep turnaround time to 55 days, “depending on the product type and work-scope”.

Pratt & Whitney Canada maintenance technician inspects a private jet engine

3. Are rental engines available?

Operators may require rental engine support when their own are in the shop undergoing maintenance, notes Winzar, and JSSI facilitates the provision of rental engines from its own stock or another source, ensuring it is ready when required, and that downtime is kept to a minimum.

JSSI also works with customers and rental engine suppliers “to manage the safe return [of the engine] and keep unnecessary costs under control”.

Pratt & Whitney also keeps an inventory of rental engines that are strategically located around the globe to support scheduled and unscheduled events, says Swail. He adds that since – in most cases – the timing of overhauls is dictated by set flying-hour intervals, customers should contact the company well in advance of the overhaul to book engines and arrange the relevant logistics.

And with a growing number of operators leasing their aircraft, Swail says Pratt & Whitney has recently expanded its options in this area beyond short-term rentals.

Prater, meanwhile, says Rolls-Royce has over 150 lease engines strategically placed around the globe. “If a customer is on CorporateCare, all lease engine costs are covered by Rolls-Royce including the removal and reinstallation of engines, plus shipping to and from the engine shop.”

4. Can I use a third party service center, rather than go through the OEM?

Like other OEMs, the engine manufacturer has a wide range of authorized service center, according to Prater. If customers are covered by its CorporateCare Enhanced program, they can use one of Rolls-Royce’s 75 authorized service centers, without having to pay the service center, “as we have a business agreement in place to cover these costs”.

JSSI’s service is built on a worldwide network of vendors, according to Winzar, all of which have the correct approvals and no issues with quality. The company has agreements in place focusing on commercial terms and “also include set service standards that must be adhered to”, Winzar says.

An hourly cost maintenance arrangement with this network means that “we will select the best facility for the customer, taking into account approvals, quality, commercial, and location considerations”.

5. How will I maintain technical oversight of the overhaul and be updated on progress?

Communication is key, notes Winzar. JSSI’s product line specialists manage maintenance events throughout an aircraft engine’s life cycle, keeping customers updated at all points.

“This ensures there are no surprises on costs, and enables operational plans to be tweaked if required.” 

During the engine shop visit process, Rolls-Royce keeps customers up to speed via weekly email updates, says Prater. The company also calls the customer if needed, “to ensure understanding”.

6. Will engines someday be able to heal themselves?

With technology and digital engine upgrades, we’re getting closer, according to the GE spokesperson, who described an incident when a pilot of a business jet flying at 50,000 feet received a warning light that his thrust reverser was inoperable. The light switched off a short time later.

GE Aviation had been monitoring the problem remotely, and was fully informed of the situation by the time the pilot landed and sought assistance. “Digital technology is evolving, bringing new solutions to pilots and operators that were unheard of even five years ago,” the GE spokesperson explained.

Data is everything, concludes Prater. “Rolls-Royce is constantly improving the use of it within our IntelligentEngine vision, resulting in proactive maintenance before any potential disruption in operation.”


James Prater Image


James Prater is Vice President, Customer Support – Business Aviation at Rolls-Royce

He is an A&P Technician and Pilot/Flight Instructor with more than 30 years in General Aviation, and is fuelled by a fascination with the magic of flight, and the creativity and science that make it possible, safe, and enjoyable.

More information from: www.rolls-royce.com

Timothy Swail, Pratt & Whitney Canada
Timothy Swail is Vice President of Customer Programs at Pratt & Whitney Canada

He leads the Customer Service Engineering organization for all product lines and front-line support. He has been with Pratt & Whitney Canada since 1989.

More information from www.pwc.ca


Mark Winzar Image
Mark Winzar is Senior Vice President, Business Development – EMEAA, at JSSI

He leads business development activities in the EMEA and APAC regions. Joining JSSI in 2009, he was integral in setting up the Hong Kong office, and expanding the business in Asia.

More information from www.jetsupport.com


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Read More About: Turboprops | Engine Maintenance | MRO | Engine Inspections | Engine Maintenance Programs | Jet Engine Maintenance

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