UBL Approach Will Save $800million, Engine-Maker Says
Pratt & Whitney and the US Air Force have begun using the engine manufacturer’s Usage Based Lifing (UBL) approach, to save money and limit down-time on the F-22 Raptor’s F119 engines.
The UBL concept sees P&W combining proprietary maintenance algorithms with actual data generated by engines during flight. Analysis of the combined data sets will help maintainers understand how the engines are being used operationally, and, when combined with expected performance, will enable each engine to be maintained in a manner that befits its individual requirements, rather than relying on schedules. In theory, this will mean that some parts may last longer than anticipated so costs can be reduced through better understanding of how they are being used; similarly, usage-based diagnostics can better predict when parts are about to fail, meaning they can be replaced before failure occurs, or replacements that may have to be ordered can be ready on site when needed.
The system “allows the operator and Pratt & Whitney to collect large amounts of real-time data on engine components based on how it is actually being flown in the field versus an assumed mission mix,” the company stated. “By capturing full flight data, UBL allows the operator to assess exactly how the aircraft was flown and apply the appropriate level of lifing capacity that was used – saving time and money while improving readiness.”
The launch of the programme is the result of years of preparatory work. The company says it has been involved in a partnership with the Air Force “over the last decade” to develop tools and capture data generated by the engines and aircraft in flight. The company then “captured and authenticated UBL data for two years to validate system functionality and integration points,” it added.
The entire F-22 fleet stationed at Nellis AFB, NV, has been converted to allow UBL tracking to take place. F-22s based at Langley AFB, VA, will begin conversion in March.