Airlines see savings from fewer lubricants: Shell

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Shell Aviation believes airlines can cut costs by reducing the number of engine lubricants that they use across their fleets.

The company’s general manager lubricants, Stephane Cicolella told Flightglobal Pro in an interview that it has worked with a number of carriers and MROs to reduce their long-term maintenance costs by moving them to more flexible lubricants that can be used with multiple engine types.

An example he cites is leisure carrier Orient Thai. In 2008, Shell recommended that the airline move towards using a new lubricant across three engine types in its fleet, which had a positive effect.

“They saw less coking, less bearing problems and obviously lower maintenance issues and therefore lower costs,” says Cicolella.

“If you extrapolate this to a more standard fleet - say around 20 narrowbodies, and you assume that they may fly 6000 hours a year - that generates savings of $160,000 across those aircraft. In this world of very tiny margins for many airlines, it is a lot of money.”

He adds that compatibility with older types was been a major consideration for the company as it developed new lubricants, such as its Ascender product developed for the new generation engines, such as the Rolls-Royce Trent 900.

“For major operators, they have multiple types of engines, they want something that fits the new as well as the older engines in their fleet,” he says.

“If you are able to have one product that covers everything, it makes it much easier in terms of inventory and to prevent mistakes.”