Manuals Labor: Hundreds of Thousands of Pages of Technical Data Available Online

One of the biggest activities supporting entry into service readiness for Pratt & Whitney's new Geared Turbofan™ (GTF) engine family is the 10,000 pages of technical manuals that need to be written in order for customers and overhaul and repair centers to properly maintain, overhaul and repair the new engines.

Even though Pratt & Whitney technical manuals are now online products that are no longer issued on paper in booklet form, it still requires a massive effort to research, write and publish tens of thousands of pages of technical manuals for each new engine.

"It is really amazing as you look at today's publications environment," said Brenda Mitchell, director of Military Customer Support and Services. "The technology and industry standard enhancements have enabled us to deliver a very customer friendly suite of products that are easily accessible and navigable by the end users."

For most of its history, Pratt & Whitney's development of a new jet engine required a virtual forest of printed technical manuals in order for customers and overhaul and repair centers to properly clean, inspect and repair the product.

For instance, when Pratt & Whitney introduced its now classic PW4000 engine family of turbofan aircraft engines in the late 1980s – the last Pratt & Whitney engines that were entirely dependent on paper manuals – each customer was expected to invest in a library of about 30 volumes of technical manuals.

The typical cleaning, inspection and repair manual for the PW4000 engine series consisted of 17 different volumes and a grand total of about 80,000 pages, said Patsy Massari, manager of Commercial Engines, Maintenance and Overhaul Publications and Customer Support and Services Development team.

And that does not include the two-volume illustrated parts manual, a number of standard practices manuals and other various instruction manuals.

"Taking all the different manuals into consideration, you were looking at a library of about 30 volumes for each new engine," Massari said. "And the total number of pages in those 30 volumes would often exceed 150,000, and approach a total of about 200,000 pages."

When the manuals were revised, as was often the case, customers and overhaul centers found they needed to hire full-time staff members just to keep inserting the revised pages into the manuals and discarding the dated material.

But those days are long gone. Pratt & Whitney began the process of replacing printed technical manuals with CD-ROM discs in the late 1990s and gradually converted from CD-ROMs to online manuals over the ensuing decade. Today the technical manuals for its newest jet engines, the GTF engine family, are delivered to the customer or to overhaul and repair centers online through a secure, customizable Internet portal. Customers will now be able to access the manuals from any internet-connected device, including tablets and smart phones.

Customers use the portal to bring them to an Internet site from which they can access their engine's technical manuals as well as a vast array of other useful information. There are no paper manuals associated with the GTF engines.

Delivering technical manuals through an Internet portal is more secure and protective of Pratt & Whitney's intellectual property, and makes the data far easier for customers to access and manipulate.

"It's a lot easier and more convenient to just click on a button and be immediately transported by hyperlink to the section of the manual that contains the specific information you need than to try flipping through a 1,000-page book," said Brendan Sheehan, a technical writer.

The paperless technical manuals help support the Aftermarket goal of assuring seamless EIS for the GTF engines. The technical manuals are nearly complete for the first two GTF engines scheduled to enter into service – the PW1100G-JM for Airbus A320neo and the PW1500G for Bombardier CSeries, said Alan Cucca, product line manager, Commercial Maintenance Data and Support Equipment, Customer Support and Services.

IndiGo, India's largest airline, became the first customer to procure the right to use the new technical manuals for the GTF engine family when it was granted access to the PW1100G-JM On-Wing Publication Group manuals on Pratt & Whitney's Fleetcare customer portal May 15.

Complicating Pratt & Whitney's effort to write the technical manuals for the new GTF engines as a fully accessible, user-friendly Internet product was the fact that the technical writers and software engineers working on the project had more than just the GTF engine manuals to worry about. They also had to deal with a new industry authoring standard, the S1000D system.

The conversion to S1000D was accomplished by a team of about a dozen Pratt & Whitney employees known as the MDE S1000D Implementation Team, which was headed by Massari, Cucca and Ed Manemeit.

The conversion to the S1000D system has enabled Pratt & Whitney to offer customers thousands of pages of technical data "in a consistent manner whether it is a commercial or military engine product," said Mitchell. "Due to this standard approach, we have been able to meet the demand of five new NGPF programs and the F135 engine program which combined represent a 4X volume increase over our legacy programs."​​

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