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Rolls-Royce targets rivals’ engines through DS&S’s health monitoring

Rolls-Royce’s joint venture enterprise in engine health monitoring is close to an airline deal that will cover large Pratt & Whitney engines for the first time as it tries to expand into other manufacturers’ powerplants.

The contract for Data Systems & Solutions (DS&S) – a teaming with Science Applications International (SAIC) – is to monitor PW4000 engines for an unidentified UK airline. The new agreement is a small deal, but will add another engine type that will help the Derby, UK-based company build the data model it needs to sell a PW4000-monitoring product more widely.

Head of operations Mike Ward says rival engine manufacturers do not co-operate with the modelling, but DS&S typically needs only two to three months of in-service data to generate a usable model itself.

The six-year-old operation has grown into a $120 million company that now monitors more than 6,000 engines on 2,300 aircraft under 50 contracts.

Engine performance parameters are datalinked or otherwise transmitted to DS&S, which uses advanced analytical techniques to warn, for example, of near-term failures, but also might permit a cost-saving flight to an aircraft’s home base for maintenance.

Crucially, the technique enables R-R to price its major engine support contracts appropriately. Ward explains: “The motivation for creating DS&S was to give visibility into R-R’s own engine fleet and so manage the [support] programmes profitably.” The company is particularly targeting operators of General Electric CF34 and CFM International CFM56 engines – particularly the CFM56-3.

It explains that the CF34 powers large regional jet fleets of carriers that also operate R-R-powered aircraft, and the CFM56-3 powers mature Boeing 737 fleets that are not the subject of recently negotiated support contracts in which DS&S is unlikely to figure.

KIERAN DALY / DERBY

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