Throughout the service life of aircraft, engines are often the most looked-after parts, usually costing a fortune to maintain. Due to the sensitivity of these components, no all-encompassing solution applies to every make and model of engine. When servicing an engine, one must keep many variables in mind, those of which include manufacturers, engine programs, parts sourcing, maintenance history, pedigree, and more.
Engine service life is determined by the engine overhaul and inspection requirements, with specific focus on time or cycle limited components. When assessing an engine for purchase, you must ensure that the seller has the most recent and up-to-date times and cycles of each engine and APU, if applicable. These are normally found in a flight log and should list all cycle limited components. For turbine engines in particular, there are varying cycle limited replacement or overhaul requirements. One should also note that flight logs must have current data on service bulletins, inconsistencies in engine times, and repetitive issues detailed as well.
There are a wide range of engine programs in the aviation industry, some of which include Jet Support Services Inc. (JSSI), Honeywell Maintenance Service Plan (MSP), Pratt & Whitney Eagle Service Plan (ESP), Williams Total Assurance Program (TAP), and many others. While some programs are customizable, others vary based on major repairs and possible expenses. For an engine with a predesignated program, one must fully understand what it consists of and what it does not cover. Moreover, one must request a current engine maintenance agreement and review it with an engine representative or program representative.
Some key questions to ask:
Engine maintenance history is often overlooked; thus, one must make sure that the last maintenance service was carried out by a reputable facility that properly follows maintenance guidelines. A majority of this information can be obtained with thorough logbook research. Once this is done, check to see if the facility has a good track record for the aircraft model you are purchasing. Gather this information and provide it for your preferred maintenance provider. They should be able to estimate the upcoming maintenance costs based on previous utilization.
The primary location of the aircraft during operation has a major impact on its service life and repair costs. Whether it has been used in a sandy, corrosive, or polluted environment will have an effect on the internal condition of the engine. One must also look at how many cycles it has gone through, appropriate operating temperatures, sufficient oil lubrication, calendar limits, manufacturer manual recommendations, and more. Trend monitoring is a good way of understanding how an engine has been operated, but other aftermarket or manual tracking methods can also be utilized.
All of the aforementioned items are good indications of an aircraft engine’s worth. Additionally, it is important to consider whether a factory-authorized facility conducted the general maintenance and whether they are reputable. It is also worth noting if the aircraft or its parts has undergone any modifications that can affect the airframe warranty. One can also seek out an independent ASA Accredited aircraft appraiser to evaluate the aircraft.
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