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Will Sweetheart Deal For Boeing Turn Sour?

Will Sweetheart Deal For Boeing Turn Sour?

The world is certainly bitter with Boeing’s latest consensus to plead guilty to a criminal fraud conspiracy charge after the US found the company violated a deal meant to reform it after two fatal crashes by its 737 Max plane, plus the planemaker’s agreeing to pay a criminal fine of $243.6million (£190m).

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Pratt & Whitney, USAF Launch Revolutionary Digital Engine Monitoring Technology

Pratt & Whitney, USAF Launch Revolutionary Digital Engine Monitoring Technology

For the first time in aerospace propulsion history, Pratt & Whitney has launched an innovative Usage-Based Lifing (UBL) program for its F119 5th generation engine fleet, which is expected to save the U.S. Air Force $800+ million over the life of the program – while continuing to maximize readiness.

By digitally combining aircraft flight data with Pratt & Whitney’s state-of-the-art maintenance engineering algorithms, UBL allows the USAF to plan engine maintenance when it’s actually needed – maximizing both warfighting readiness and maintenance cost savings.

Two F119 engines power each F-22 Raptor in the U.S. Air Force’s fleet. When the F-22 reached Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and was declared combat-ready in 2005, the F119 turbofan became the first operational 5th generation fighter engine in history. One of the exceptional performance benefits the F119 gives the F-22 is supercruise, the ability to fly at supersonic speeds without afterburning, which provides the F-22 exceptional combat performance without compromising mission range. In addition to supercruise, the F119 combines stealth technologies, vectored thrust, and high thrust-to-weight performance to provide unprecedented maneuverability and survivability.

Along with performance, sustainment is a critical part of any engine program, as it’s crucial to maintain readiness at high levels and keep costs within budget. For decades, engine sustainment budgeting and planning was completed largely based on historical data and average mission usage metrics. Without full flight data, maintainers can only make assumptions about how the aircraft was flown and is going to fly and those assumptions are applied to every engine without the ability to tailor maintenance to an engine’s specific needs. As a result, engine maintenance might be performed earlier or later than necessary, leading to inefficiencies over the long run.

Incorporating Usage-Based Lifing, however, allows the operator and Pratt & Whitney to collect large amounts of real-time data on engine components based on how it is actually being flown in the field versus an assumed mission mix. This constant flow of data is continuously re-analyzed and allows the customer to take advantage of the full life of the engine parts while reducing risk to the fleet. By capturing full flight data, UBL allows the operator to assess exactly how the aircraft was flown and apply the appropriate level of lifing capacity that was used – saving time and money while improving readiness.

Pratt & Whitney has partnered with the USAF over the last decade to utilize their combined engineering capabilities and logistics expertise to develop advanced tools sets and to capture the streaming data generated in today’s advanced platforms through the full flight of the aircraft/engine. The data is then transferred and processed through the Pratt & Whitney lifing system using advanced algorithms and logistics management tools. Those results are then passed to the maintainer in an actionable format. In order to reach this historic launch, a detailed validation plan was executed with the USAF. Pratt & Whitney captured and authenticated UBL data for two years to validate system functionality and integration points. 

As part of the UBL launch, the entire F-22 fleet stationed at Nellis AFB has been converted to UBL tracking, vastly improving sustainment capabilities; and the F-22 units at Langley AFB are expected to start the conversion in March. In addition to saving money, successfully implementing this technology across the fleet will provide the USAF a model for applying the UBL process to other engine sustainment programs, which will further reduce costs, streamline maintenance, and improve readiness for the nation’s warfighters.

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Airbus Expands MRO Footprint In Asia

Airbus Expands MRO Footprint In Asia

Following separate announcements by Asia Digital Engineering Sdn BhD (ADE) and Korea Aviation Engineering & Maintenance Service Ltd. (KAEMS) for Airbus customers in Asia, Mathew George, Ph.D, Analyst, Aerospace, Defense and Security at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“AirAsia Group’s ADE and KAI’s KAEMS made separate announcements on the expansion of maintenance, repairs and overhaul (MRO), thus marking an increased footprint for Airbus customers to avail MRO services in Asia. With the pandemic still wreaking havoc, airlines and countries had put on hold the programs to purchase new aircraft and make sure that the lives of the present aircraft be extended safely as much as possible. Countries, including India, actively started to explore MRO services and proposed the possible mechanisms and programs to turn themselves into regional MRO hubs.

According to GlobalData, the military aerospace MRO market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.93 percent in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region between 2020 and 2030 and will be valued at US$17.85bn by 2030.

While ADE obtained the approval for base maintenance (hangar or C-Checks) from Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), KAEMS was able to sign an MoU with Airbus Defense & Space (ADS) for technical support for C-212 and CN-235 aircraft. ADE’s support extends not just to AirAsia fleet of A320, A321 and A330 aircraft, the approval allows it to undertake MRO services for other airlines as well. ADE was also able to secure approvals from India’s DGCA and Indonesia, raising the bar for ADE and Malaysia to provide MRO services for airlines across Southeast Asia.

Governments have shown their resolve to fund upgrade and replacement programs. However, with lockdowns continuing in countries, and increasing cases like India’s still a possibility in other geographies, airlines and governments will continue to focus on sustainment of existing capability. In addition, with long lead times and unexpected delays still a possibility, a lackadaisical approach to MRO is not something anyone can afford.”


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Advancing MRO Solutions With Additive Manufacturing

Advancing MRO Solutions With Additive Manufacturing

ST Engineering and EOS have collaborated to introduce multiple AM solutions for the aerospace sector—from qualified systems and materials to 3D print certified parts that are more durable and more effective in operations.

ST Engineering’s Aerospace sector has been building its portfolio in virtual inventory to enhance customers’ air operation performance, including solutions for commonly damaged aircraft components. Printing on demand helps eliminate waste when platforms are retired, reducing non-moving inventory. In addition, with approved digital files and qualified 3D printers & processes, certified parts can be produced close to aircraft sites, vastly reducing delivery-related carbon emissions and improving cost efficiencies.

Confident that additive manufacturing (AM) is the way forward, the company collaborates with technology partners and like-minded airline customers to develop multiple AM solutions. Here, ST Engineering shares how they successfully broadened and deepened their capabilities for AM solutions. 

Overcoming Challenges

Back in 2018, ST Engineering already had plans to expand their AM capabilities from Filament Layer Manufacturing (FLM) technologies to include Laser Powder Bed (LPB) technologies- covering the two processes of Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Direct Metal Laser Solidification (DMLS) – so as to offer a wider range of additive manufacturing solutions to customers. 

Originally, it only had Design Organisation Approval (DOA) and Production Organisation Approval (POA) from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for FLM technology. For the LPB technologies, the plan was to build in-house capabilities in managing and qualifying the systems, materials and processes, which would in turn open more application potential to produce AM aircraft parts. 

As a new adopter of LPB AM technologies, ST Engineering decided to collaborate with EOS, one of the industry’s pioneering leaders specialising in LPB AM systems, to jumpstart their learning curve in understanding the possibilities and limitations of both SLS and DMLS processes.

AM Solution

By the end of 2018, ST Engineering and EOS’ consulting arm, Additive Minds, established an Additive Manufacturing Capability Transfer program. The program comprised customised training and consulting workshops that aimed to build strong fundamentals among attendees in the following topics: parts screening and selection, design for AM, business case analysis, and introduction on critical-to-quality requirements for AM processes.

After the Capability Transfer Program, ST Engineering selected a load-bearing cabin interior assembly with no impact on flight safety from their converted freighter aircraft as a benchmark to kickstart their adoption journey with both SLS and DMLS technologies. 

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