When the first practical helicopter took flight in 1939, those aviation pioneers couldn’t possibly have known how many ways the world would end up using it – to rush critically ill people to hospitals, to inspect and maintain towering windmills, even to deliver intrepid skiers to mountaintops so they could freestyle to the valleys below.
The beauty of the modern helicopter is that it has grown to lend itself to missions no other aircraft can achieve. The helicopter is unique, and, over the years, operators have come up with innovative ways to harness that uniqueness.
Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) has been making and maintaining helicopter engines for half a century. The new technologies our engines introduced have allowed OEMs to give their helicopters new capabilities – flying higher, faster, heavier, and with surgical capabilities for takeoff, maneuvering and landing. And they do so with the right combination of power, speed and efficiency that is so critical to delivering passengers and payloads safely.
In addition to innovation, we have also brought industry-leading safety performance into our engines, aided by the sheer volume of flying experience our helicopter engine fleet enjoys – some 3 million hours in 2020 alone. Our inflight shutdown and unscheduled removal rates far exceed industry standards.
Our success stems directly from the relationships we have built with our OEMs and operators over the years. We work with our customers, taking the time to understand their challenges and their plans for the future. What they tell us informs our research and development pipeline. (We were named Canada’s top aviation R&D investor for 2020.)
So what does all of this look like on the ground?
Take for example, the AW169 platform from Leonardo, powered by twin PW210A engines, our most recent turboshaft model. The AW169 is the latest generation 4.5-tonne class twin-engine helicopter. The engine features a dual-channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) that delivers exceptional ease of operation, maintenance diagnostics and other control features. The PW210A also acts as the helicopter’s APU, which saves the cost and weight of a third engine. The helicopter is used in a variety of missions that include military purposes.
We have been working with Leonardo to introduce the latest “Enhanced” and “Superior” Performance Packs for the AW169 that will improve engine performance and capabilities, transmission ratings and available payload through engine software updates and aircraft modifications.
We anticipate the Performance Packs will receive regulatory certification by Q3 2021, delivering new customer capabilities in all conditions including Hot & High for which the AW169 will have the best-in-class power-to-weight ratio.
The Performance Pack will allow, in All Engines Operating (AEO) mode, an increase up to 130 SHP from the PW210A engines and an increase of 150 SHP from the helicopter transmission re-rating.
Additionally, according to Leonardo, this pack will expand aircraft capabilities:
- Payload increases of up to 350 kilograms for hovering
- Payload increases of up to 300 kilograms in PC1 – Cat A operations
- Payload increases of up to 200 kilograms for one-engine-inoperative (OEI) hovering
- Flight envelope extension of up to 20,000 feet
These improvements will bring the AW169 to unparalleled payload capabilities for HOGE (hover out of ground effect) and OEI (one engine inoperative) conditions, with the capability to carry two passengers more than any other helicopter in the same class.
The increases in engine performance and payload will elevate the AW169’s ability to meet advanced mission demands across all mission types. In VIP transport, for example, significant performance improvement will be achieved in very-high altitude/high temperature conditions with a 300-kilogram improvement for HOGE takeoff. For EMS missions in medium altitude (8,000 feet/2,438 metres) / high temperature it’s an incremental 350-kilogram payload increase in HOGE. Finally for Windmill Inspection with low altitude/low temperature it means a 150 kilogram increase in payload for HOGE OEI.
Engine Customer Service Network
Our Customer Service network is vital to our operators around the world. We treat it as a living entity, and we remake it constantly to serve our operators’ evolving needs. Likewise, we are always evolving the suite of services we have designed to support operators throughout their engines’ lifecycles and further optimize time on wing.
For more than five years we have been expanding our P&WCSMART services for our PT6T, PT6B and PW200 families of engines. These services are for mature engines facing major engine maintenance during which we guarantee costs through offers such as Flat Rate Engine Exchange Program, New Spare Engine Upgrade, Refresh Program and Barrier Filter Upgrade.
We are fully equipped to meet our operators’ engine needs – sales, rental exchange – and to support the continuity of customers’ operations if it becomes necessary to remove an engine for maintenance. New spare engine solutions such as long-term leasing from Pratt & Whitney are providing attractive alternatives for customers who want exclusive access to spare engines while keeping ownership costs down.
Our industry-leading Oil Analysis Technology, which can help identify engine issues hundreds of hours before they can affect service, is now available for our PW200, PW210, PT6C-67C/E and PT6T helicopter engines. Oil Analysis is included free of charge for operators enrolled in our ESP program. More than 700 engines currently benefit from this new capability.
Given that our Field Support Managers (FSMs) have not been able to travel during the COVID 19 pandemic, many of our operators have turned to our two-way video service, Onsight, which was developed by Librestream and has been available for P&WC customers since 2017. Onsight is available on iOS and Android devices, and it connects the FSM with operators visually to allow for an effective diagnosis. (See this article for more information on Oil Analysis and Onsight.)
We are also scaling up the Global Service Network and have in the past few years rolled out a global ecosystem of Designated Maintenance Facilities (DMFs). DMFs provide line maintenance and Mobile Repair Team service. The DMFs are integrated into the rest of Pratt & Whitney’s Global Service Network, which includes over 40 owned and designated engine and auxiliary power unit facilities. For more information check out our interactive Service Network Map.
The year 2020 has been challenging for all of us on many different levels, but throughout it we have never wavered in our dedication to our customers. That’s because our customers have continued to push new mission possibilities for the helicopters we power.
We are looking to furthering that shared journey.