19–22 August 2019
JW Marriott, Indianapolis, Indiana

Maintaining 50-Year-Old Engines

Posted: 12 July 2018, 1:30 p.m. EDT



Panelists:
Moderator Tom Prete, vice president of engineering for military engines, Pratt & Whitney; Rafael Garcia, propulsion directorate, U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center; Shawn Gregg, general manager of propulsion engineering, Delta TechOps, Delta Airlines; Antonio Miguelez, director of propulsion and power engineering, U.S. Naval Air Systems Command; Kevin Mock, chief design engineer of T56 and 501 engines, Rolls-Royce Corp.; Brant Simmons, general manager, Service Technologies, GE Aviation

by Tom Risen, Aerospace America staff reporter

Keeping engines running for decadeslong lifespans has numerous challenges, which top engineers from companies and the U.S. military addressed July 11 during the “50-Year Engines” panel discussion at the 2018 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Cincinnati.

The panelists agreed about the need to collect and analyze more engine data to be predictive about maintenance rather than reactive because a problem was not spotted sooner.

Newer engines and aircraft generate a lot more data than models from past generations. Today, the U.S. Navy is “not as far along as the commercial folks” as far as using that data for maintenance, said Antonio Miguelez, director of propulsion and power engineering for U.S. Naval Air Systems Command.

The Navy envisions eventually having additive manufacturing machines on ships so that replacement parts for planes at sea can be created when they are needed, Miguelez said.

Panelists-50-year-old-engines-PropEnergy2018-11July2018

Participants in the panel discussion "50-Year Engines," July 11 at the 2018 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Cincinnati.

New engineers often dream of creating new engines from scratch, but the industry needs to stress “it takes just as much creativity” to maintain a decades-old engine, said Kevin Mock, the chief design engineer for the T-56 and 501 engines for Rolls Royce.

Original equipment manufacturers need be more proactive about maintaining planes for longer than anticipated lifespans because “the government dollar is stretched like never before,” and contractors need to help the U.S. government and military do more with less, Mock said.

A “tough call” for the U.S. military is “trying to balance the pool of money that we all get between modernization and sustaining [engines]” and to make sure there are enough personnel to do both, said Rafael Garcia, director of the propulsion directorate at the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. An example of this is the B-52 bomber, which the Air Force plans to fly until at least 2050, Garcia said.

“So not only do I have to sustain a 50-year-old engine, I have to keep it going if I want to go 90 years with it,” Garcia said.


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