You started your career as an aerospace engineer; how has this background influenced you in your career progression and helped you in your ability to understand the challenges faced by pilots, MRO technicians and engine designers?
Being an Aerospace Engineer by trade has been a tremendous asset for my career. The products that I have worked with, like those within the P&WC portfolio, are complex and highly integrated. It certainly has helped to have a good knowledge and understanding of their many facets from performance characteristics, key technical success drivers and aircraft value proposition.
Along with my Engineering Degree, I was also able to earn my pilot certification before I graduated. This opportunity has helped me greatly and is an asset when having meaningful conversations with all flight-operations personnel (pilots, test pilots, mechanics, dispatchers, etc) about real-life use of our products. Over the last 15 years of my career at P&WC I have had the opportunity to work alongside some of the greatest minds in the industry and have led the most talented of teams.
I am proud to be working within a company that promotes inclusion and talent development. We empower our employees to help shape the communities of the future. It’s our mission to harness our employees’ expertise and determination and go beyond to shape the aviation industry.
How has the design/manufacturing process of helicopter engines changed over the years you’ve worked for P&W?
We invest in game-changing products and technology to deliver more value to P&WC helicopter and customers of our other market segments. By leveraging digital communication and advanced manufacturing technologies including automation, robotics, virtual reality, and closed-door machining, we aim to create a fully integrated manufacturing environment. These initiatives drive immense amounts of data that can be immediately converted to useable information. The past seven years alone have seen five major new Helicopter Engine certifications: the PW210S (Sikorsky S-76D), PW210A (AW169), the PT6C-67A (AW609) and PT6C-67E (H175).
A more recent entrant to the market is our PW210 helicopter engine, designed to power the next generation of intermediate and medium-class helicopters. The evolution of the PW210 engine includes the PW210A that powers the AW169 which has been designed to comply the most rigorous standards required by oil and gas operators and their customers. Two performance upgrade solutions, which completed European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification in early 2022, provide power increase that enables the AW169 to continue to stabilize its position and provides outstanding power-to-weight ratio that will set a new market standard within its category. Our next-generation engines also benefit from improvements to the engine’s brain – the full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) that enables the engine to perform at maximum efficiency.
The FADEC has increased processor capability which allows for more software-based functionality. It can automatically track low-cycle fatigue (LCF) parts and creep and provides electronic on-ground and in-flight power assurance checks. FADEC delivers on our commitment to enhance the overall flying experience by simplifying engine operations, reducing pilot workload, and providing greater power response, performance, and aircraft availability. The technology’s patented noise-cancellation capabilities also improve cabin comfort.
We’ve implemented FADEC on 15 different P&WC engine models in the past 10 years. It recently entered into service on the PW210S, PT6C-67E and PW210A helicopter engines powering the Sikorsky S-76D, H175 and AW169 helicopters, building on P&WC’s strong helicopter engine heritage dating back to the 1970s. The PW210 features a FADEC that greatly eases pilot workload and delivers best in class specific fuel consumption (SFC). The PT6C-67E, which powers the Airbus H175, is the first PT6 engine with dual channel FADEC. The PT6C-67E delivers improved fuel burn and engine handling while reducing pilot workload. Its power enabled the H175 to achieve a time-to-climb record during pre-certification testing: 6,000 metres in 6 minutes 54 seconds and 3,000 metres in 3 minutes 10 seconds.
We invest in game-changing products and technology to deliver more value to P&WC helicopter and customers
How is P&W adapting and enhancing its helicopter and jet engines to ensure they are ready for the new generation of sustainable aviation fuel?
The entire P&WC engine portfolio is ready to operate with SAF at up to 50 per cent blend, and we are working towards making our engines 100 per cent SAF-ready in the future. Pratt & Whitney unveiled one example of its plans to create a more sustainable aviation industry in July of 2021 when it announced its Regional Hybrid Electric Flight Demonstrator program. The new hybrid-electric propulsion technology will drive significant improvements in aircraft efficiency by optimizing performance across the different phases of flight, allowing the demonstrator to target a 30 per cent reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions, compared to a modern regional turboprop airliner.
P&WC is working with De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited to integrate this hybrid-electric technology into a De Havilland Canada Dash 8-100 flight demonstrator. This demonstrator will include an advanced electric motor and controller from Collins Aerospace, also a Raytheon Technologies business. In May 2022, Pratt & Whitney Canada selected H55 S.A., as battery systems technology collaborator for the regional hybrid-electric flight demonstrator project, with ground testing starting in 2022 and flight testing in 2024.
How has P&WC’s development program been influenced by progress in technology allowing for better management of MRO, for example through HUMS software?
Our engine condition trend monitoring (ECTM) available on P&WC PT6 and PW200 helicopter engines, is an excellent maintenance tool that enables customers to diagnose and monitor the health of their respective engines. This software will detect and reveal engine problems before secondary damage occurs to the engine and/or its components. In many cases, ECTM can help prevent excessive hot section component distress by enabling the operator to identify preventative maintenance actions leading to an economical hot section inspection (HSI). By analyzing parameters such as power, speed and fuel flow on a flight-to-flight basis, ECTM can identify subtle changes in an engine’s performance, helping us to plan the most efficient MRO plans and define workscopes in advance to let our customers and maintenance teams know if any actions are required. The process can be greatly simplified with P&WC’s FAST solution for engine health anagement. Available on PT6C-67Cpowered Leonardo AW139 helicopters, P&WC's FAST captures, analyzes and wirelessly transmits data relating to power and a host of other engine and aircraft parameters after each flight, within minutes of engine shutdown.
For helicopter operators, it also enables automatic power assurance checks with a display in the cockpit – reducing pilot workload and potential for human error. Another example is our Oil Analysis Technology program, which allows us to go deeper and broaden the scope of our existing data-driven engine health management solutions delivered to customers. The technology, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to increase the solution’s precision, predictive and preventive maintenance capabilities for our customers’ helicopter engines, looks at the minute particles within the oil that indicate the health of specific oil-wetted components – such as bearings and gears, which are critical to engine operations – with extremely high precision.
Our next-generation engines also benefit from improvements to the engine’s brain – the FADEC
How has OEM support adapted to the challenge presented by the pandemic, and are there any changes you made to service levels and approaches that you have kept in place since then?
Over the course of the pandemic, we were faced with many unknowns. Our employees and company came together with agility and resilience to ensure we continued to service our customers at the P&WC standard, while preserving the health and safety of our team as a priority focus. Our operations did not stop – we just adapted the work environment – fully remote, hybrid and on-site.
We continue to expand our portfolio of customer service solutions driven by several customer benefits: protecting the value of the customer’s engines, providing financial flexibility and new engine leasing models, reducing shop time by substituting exchanges for engine overhauls, and the need to keep the fleet flying longer. It is about transforming how we approach business, listening to our customers’ needs, leveraging data, and developing new and simplified services and solutions that bring greater value to our customers throughout the entire engine lifecycle.
As our customers’ business models have evolved, they are looking for flexible alternatives to purchasing an engine outright or exchanging an engine to align with their needs, budgets, and business models. Our Spare Engine Solutions enable customers to extend the life of an aircraft or get a parked aircraft back flying with cost-effective solutions tailored to the flying hours needed. We have added a new Lease to Own solution to the portfolio, which provides even more options for engine leasing and ownership tailored to customers’ needs, engine lifecycle stages and operating horizons.
Other options in the Spare Engine Solutions portfolio include long-term leasing and on-wing leasing. Short-term engine rental is also available to customers while their engine is in the shop for scheduled or unscheduled events. We continue to expand the number of our P&WC- owned and Designated Maintenance Facilities (DMF) around the world to ensure our customers have access to the line maintenance and Mobile Repair Team (MRT) services they require between major scheduled maintenance.
P&WC currently has 50 owned and designated maintenance facilities across the globe and around the world we have approximately 100 field support managers (FSMs), more than 100 mobile repair team (MRT) technicians, more than 1000 spare engines, and more than 10 owned and designated parts distribution centres. The close relationship we share with our customers has provided forecasting visibility and scheduled maintenance opportunities that have allowed us to tailor our customer support strategies to align with the changing times and needs of our customers. Especially now as pandemic restrictions have been lifting, aircraft technicians and P&WC support personnel can quickly travel to a customer’s location to address Aircraft On Ground (AOG) situations or provide one-on-one maintenance guidance. Teams are also equipped with special secure connection tools that allow them to remotely diagnose and rectify issues in the field including live video chat capabilities and the sharing of photos with zoom and focus options, remote smartphone light control, andbandwidth selection, the latter enabling the video link to be maintained even when the signal is weak.
The entire P&WC engine portfolio is ready to operate with SAF at up to 50 per cent blend
Are you seeing an increase in helicopter engine sales as the need for them increases in areas such as aerial firefighting, aerial law enforcement, and search and rescue, where helicopters are required to fly in different environments and respond to a variety of mission profiles?
How are engines being adapted to meet ever-changing customer requirements? We continue to be encouraged by the commercial aerospace recovery. Flying hours for our key turboshaft missions are close to pre-Covid levels as we have seen an increase in production volume and demand in new helicopter purchases, specifically within Security & Defense, EMS, Offshore, and Law Enforcement. We’ve had a successful year in 2022, and It’s important that we continue to deliver on both our customer and internal commitments to remain strong in 2023.
We’re continuously listening to the needs of the market, understanding our customers’ individual challenges, and responding with personalized and tailored solutions. The success of our customers rides on our ability to drive innovative and proven technology into everything we do. We have also dramatically transformed our business model by bringing customized, digital and e-commerce solutions to our customers.
Attracting and retaining talent and ensuring employee health and wellbeing are both key to the success of any global company in today’s challenging economic climate; how is P&W approaching these challenges?
We responded to the pandemic as a company with the health and safety of our employees remaining our first priority; Pratt & Whitney provided a safe and flexible work environment during this challenging time, and we are continuing to review and adapt our working environment to meet the needs of our team. For example, the implementation of a hybrid working environment is a testament of our employee-first approach.
We have created a philosophy of empowerment and transparency and a strong culture of community. In our broad portfolio and full mandate from design to manufacturing, we have a role for everyone – no matter what you do you can help our customers meet their vital missions from firefighting to agricultural efforts to regional connectivity. It’s our mission to harness our employees’ expertise and determination and go beyond to shape the aviation industry.