Pratt & Whitney Unveils ‘Singapore-Made’ GTF Blades
Pratt & Whitney have announced that they will be using a Singapore Airshow to demonstrate its commitment to using Singapore as the base for future manufacturing works. The company plans to build the fan blades and turbine disks for their GTF (geared-turbine fan) engine with the first fan blade having been manufactured and assembled right there in Singapore earlier in the fiscal year.
Because the fan is made of an extremely light metal alloy it makes machining the fan blade very difficult, Kevin Kirkpatrick the P&W Director of Aftermarket Operations in Singapore reveals. So difficult that the GTF fan blade is only manufactured in two places in the entire world, one of which is Singapore and the other is Michigan. Kirkpatrick expects the volume of work will increase dramatically in the engine shops in Singapore due to the upcoming introduction of the GTF. Kirkpatrick believes that the GTF is responsible for bringing so many new types of aircrafts to the forefront with Bombardier being the first.
Since then many giants within the industry have followed suit, most notably: Airbus with their A32oneo, Embraer with the E2, Mitsubishi with their Regional Jet and of course Boeing with their 737. Kirkpatrick also praises United Technologies Corp. for their foresight to invest so heavily in the GTF. With the money invested in the R&D UTC has turned the GTF fan blades into a hugely lucrative venture. But that’s not all that P&W has their hands in the honey jar for, the company is working actively to develop new repair techniques to achieve more automation. By using advanced technology in robotics and drones, P&W is eschewing the traditional route of recruiting maintenance technicians and working towards total automation in regards to repair policies and procedures.
One of the shining examples of how the new repair technology is revolutionizing the repair industry can be seen in a machine that measures the correct curvature of engine tubes. Jet engines are notoriously hard to measure as each jet engine would have a different machine needed to measure it due to the varying shapes and sizes. On top of that the measuring would be extremely labor intensive and shockingly costly because a team of laborers would have to set up the individual machines, put it away and not to mention the cost of just storing those machines. Kirkpatrick says P&W have solved that conundrum by developing a single machine that can measure every shape and size of tubes with the utmost accuracy.