Lufthansa Technik has started using an automated steam cleaning system for engine heat exchangers, which avoids use of chemical detergents and reduces process time.

The MRO group says the system was developed in-house and is the first of its kind to go into operation across the industry.

“All heat exchangers found in common engine types” can be cleaned with the system in about 1h, rather than an average 16h it takes with a conventional manual process, LHT says.

It adds that “even the most persistent dirt can be removed effortlessly”, and that cleaned heat exchangers are “as good as new and regain their original performance”.

The system – which has been developed in conjunction with LHT’s “Digital Shop Floor” initiative – is "patentable" by the German patent office, the MRO provider notes.

Project manager Anna Balka states that the system represents a “milestone on the way to tomorrow's digitally networked engine maintenance.