Pratt Slowly Ramping GTF Spares Production

Sichuan Airlines A320neo
Credit: Airbus

Some Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines undergoing required checks for cracking in certain parts are getting new, full-life components installed during the visits, and the company is on track to swap out more of the defective parts as checks progress.

Chris Calio, president of Pratt parent RTX, said the company is producing enough full-life disks without the contaminated powder metal (PM) issue to satisfy all new-engine requirements. Ramping up production to replace contaminated disks, integrally bladed rotors, and other affected parts flagged in the geared turbofan (GTF) fleet management plan is one of Pratt’s priorities as it seeks to mitigate the ramifications of the PM issue.

“Today, we are delivering to our airframe customers engines with full-life ... parts in accordance with what we are committed to,” Calio said during a Barclays investor event Feb. 22. “On the MRO side, we are starting to insert those parts into certain visits, and that’s going to ramp throughout the year.”

“We’re holding serve at this particular time,” Calio added. “But that’s going to have to continue to ramp throughout the year because we want to insert more and more of these into MRO [shops] to try to drive the time on wing.”

The inspections, which currently have about 500 affected aircraft on the ground, are needed on more than 1,000 engines to head off possible premature cracking of certain parts made from 2015-2021. Most of the checks must be done in the next year, and most are unscheduled.

In response, Pratt has ramped up parts production and is adding overhaul shop capacity it did not expect to need so soon in the PW1000’s service life. Contaminated parts without cracks can keep flying, but Pratt has reduced both inspection intervals and service lives, meaning more disruption down the road for customers that do not get new, full-life parts installed during initial shop visits.

Besides more new parts, Pratt is looking at different work scopes that balance time on wing and turnaround times, which have been running 250-300 days. This wing-to-wing figure, about three times longer than normal, counts both the time waiting for an overhaul shop slot and actual inspection and repair time.

The company is also prioritizing repair development so it can keep engines moving and maximize time on wing without relying on getting new parts. The parts crunch goes beyond the contaminated PM material. With so many engines coming in earlier than scheduled, Pratt faces challenges balancing work scopes with spare parts availability. Airlines want their engines to fly as long as possible post-overhaul, which requires a certain number of specific spares.

“It’s the powder creation, it’s the machining, it’s the forging, and it’s the inspection capacity,” Calio said. “Those are the key parts” of the fleet management plan,” he added.

Sean Broderick

Senior Air Transport & Safety Editor Sean Broderick covers aviation safety, MRO, and the airline business from Aviation Week Network's Washington, D.C. office.