Flexibility Key To Engine OEM Aftermarket Response

Pratt & Whitney has been ramping up its aftermarket network following the introduction of the GTF engine into service.
Credit: Pratt & Whitney

Speaking to Inside MRO just as it unveiled the transformation of its West Palm Beach Engine center into a full-service geared turbofan (GTF) maintenance facility, Pratt & Whitney noted that the “majority” of the more than 10,000 GTF orders and commitments will be supported under the OEM’s comprehensive fleet management programs.

This appears similar to the aftermarket presence of other engine manufacturers, but OEM maintenance programs have faced new challenges during the pandemic, with some airline customers seeking to restructure their contracts in light of drastically reduced flying activity.

“We worked with each customer to adapt maintenance plans where possible, to meet their changing requirements,” says a P&W spokesperson, adding: “This allowed us to stay in lockstep with our customers, suppliers and MRO facilities throughout the pandemic.”

In some cases, Pratt used the extra downtime to incorporate planned upgrades into the GRF fleet, although the window has not been as long as for other engine types, since new-generation powerplants have been among the first to be returned to service.

“We’ve seen the GTF fleet to be one of the last grounded and one of the first to return to service during the pandemic and recovery,” says Pratt.

As for West Palm Beach, its transformation marks the end of a three-and-a-half year process during which a smaller-scale, temporary MRO shop was operated. 

Now, the engine center is the first Pratt & Whitney MRO facility to adopt an automated system that assembles the high-pressure compressor rotor assembly with minimal variation and higher yield, resulting in streamlined turn times and improved reliability of outputs.

The facility also features a refined overhead engine handling system, resulting in more efficient, cost-effective processes with improvements to safety and ergonomics.

For the latest analysis of the GTF engine, see the next issue of Inside MRO.

Alex Derber

Alex Derber, a UK-based aviation journalist, is editor of the Engine Yearbook and a contributor to Aviation Week and Inside MRO.