After two decades of research and development, Pratt & Whitney has successfully introduced a revolutionary new jet engine, the PurePower® Geared Turbofan™ (GTF) engine, to the aviation industry.
With the engines scheduled for airline customer delivery later this year, Pratt & Whitney is in the midst of an unprecedented effort to make sure customers are ready to receive, operate and maintain their new engines.
"Pratt & Whitney has invested more than $10 billion and 20 years in perfecting the GTF engine, and it's time to ensure that our customers are happy with the product and properly trained to use and maintain it," said Matthew Stoner, director, Entry into Service. "Now that the new product has been developed and sold, it's our job to make sure that no customer is disappointed."
The GTF engine is incredibly important to Pratt & Whitney's future and a high-performance team is responsible for ensuring each airline customer is ready to operate their engines on day one.
The team works closely with nearly 20 other Pratt & Whitney units, like Customer Technical Support, Global Support Engineering, Customer Service, and Line Maintenance Services, with each unit working on different aspects of the readiness plan. That increases the number of Pratt & Whitney employees and partners that are working as part of the effort to several hundred.
"We're a small group here, but we have an army of people working with us," said Keith Crawford, 30K operations and logistics manager, Customer Service. "A large portion of our responsibility is to ensure that the various organizations are all working together, aligned and focused on achieving common deliverables and objectives in support of GTF engine airline customer delivery."
Hank Norton, 17-24K operations and logistics manager, Customer Service, uses a clever analogy to describe the relationship between his team and the hundreds of Pratt & Whitney employees working on some aspect of the readiness process.
"Imagine we're all part of an orchestra," he said. "Somebody has to be the conductor, somebody has to make sure that all the different instruments and sections are working together in harmony to produce beautiful music. That's basically what our job is all about; trying to make sure that everyone's objectives and priorities are aligned."
Though the overall effort contains a vast number of functions, activities and moving parts, the main focus of the readiness program can be distilled into two main components, Norton said.
The first major thrust is assuring that the customer/operator is trained and prepared to operate and maintain their engines. The second is ensuring that Pratt & Whitney, itself, is ready to help the customer whenever and wherever the need for assistance arises.
Many facets of those two key objectives are incorporated into the company's gated readiness program, a strategic, formal checklist consisting of seven performance gates, each of which takes about three months to advance through.
The program begins about 18 months prior to the first engine delivery and continues through the final gate of the process, which is not reached until a few months after the engine has begun operations. Each gate contains a number of tasks, assurances and milestones that Pratt & Whitney and its customer agree to complete as the engine order advances closer to its delivery date.
"The gated readiness program is an important part of our overall Aftermarket strategy to ensure seamless GTF engine operations following customer delivery," said Gary L. Dudek, manager, Customer Readiness. "It's a formal, carefully planned step-by-step process designed to make sure that our customers are thoroughly familiar with the operation and maintenance of their new engine by the time they receive it."
The process consists of many elements and objectives, including customer training, customer technical support, the establishment of a network of field service representatives, and the design and construction of technical publications, support equipment and tooling, spare parts and a pool of lease engines.
"Following the creation of the process, Pratt & Whitney reviewed it with PW1100G-JM customer, Qatar Airways," said Adam McDonald, customer fleet director. "Qatar Airways has introduced several new aircraft into its fleet in recent years and was able to provide valuable feedback and recommendations to further enhance the process in order to meet Pratt & Whitney and customers' requirements.
"The gated steps and key criteria checklist are reviewed regularly with GTF engine early customers to ensure all milestones and objectives are met as we work toward the first aircraft delivery to the customer."
As operators begin to receive their new GTF engine-powered aircraft, Pratt & Whitney's readiness efforts continue to gain momentum.
The company recently opened a third customer training facility in Hyderabad, India, to complement its existing centers in East Hartford, Connecticut and Beijing, China. It also expanded its network of field representatives by assembling a team of a dozen veteran field operators, who will be temporarily assigned to work on–site, side-by-side, with customers and local teams as each new GTF engine-equipped aircraft is received.
The company is also enhancing its East Hartford-based Global Operations Center – a 24/7/365 operation – to deliver world-class responsiveness and AOG, or aircraft on the ground, resolution, full data capture and enhanced communications to support GTF engine customers.
"We have developed a robust portfolio of initiatives to support our customers in every way possible as their GTF engines take flight," said Andrew Tanner, vice president, Customer Service. "Hundreds of Pratt & Whitney employees are working together to ensure a strong support network is ready on day one as this revolutionary product family enters service with our airline customers."