Engine maker training programs for AMTs continue to evolve in light of the development of new technologically advanced and fuel-efficient powerplants. Robert W. Moorman explores the changes in AMT training.
The ongoing development of engine manufacturers’ training programs for Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) is somewhat like a two-part series. In book one, readers learn how engine suppliers have spent millions of dollars developing AMT training centers for their customers. In book two, we learn how these centers have expanded their training programs to regions more accessible to their customers. The evolution of AMT training continues.
Part of the service package an airline gets when purchasing a new engine is a guaranteed number of training days for AMTs. GE, CFM International, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney all provide these AMT training services. Manufacturers typically offer total care packages with the sale of new engines, which includes training programs that could help to reduce warranty costs for the OEM.
Typically, the training is tailor-made, based upon the type of operation customers have. GE Aviation’s Customer Technical Education Center (CTEC) in Cincinnati provides standard AMT training for the GEnx, GE90, CF6, CFM, CF34 and CT7. Basic borescope inspection and line maintenance training also are taught on these engines, and digital training solutions are provided.
CTEC will soon expand the scope of its customer training programs to include Customer Operations Leadership Training (COLT), which teaches the operational aspects of engine maintenance. Specific details of the actual training scenario have yet to be released. But AMTs, who eventually want to become managers, should be on the lookout for further details from GE, said CTEC Manager Tim Meyers. In Cincinnati, GE trains around 5,000 customer students per year and provides about 15,000 days of training.
GE also has an AMT training facility in Doha, Qatar, which is part of the GE Advanced Technology & Research Center (GE ARTC). The 144,237-square-foot facility, which opened in 2010, includes six digital classrooms, as well as 14 engine/tool bays for hands-on training.
CFM International, the joint venture between GE Aviation and Snecma, a unit of the Safran Group, has training centers in Paris, Guonghan City, China and Hyderabad, India. More than 10,000 AMTs have been trained at the Aero Engine Maintenance Training Center (AEMTC) in China since it opened in 1996.
Eighty-percent of CTEC’s mission involves a five-day familiarization course. Two days involve classroom training, in which students are shown 3D models that can be taken apart virtually. Students see the computer generated components and learn the processes behind those items. For the three remaining days, students receive training in the engine shop. Students are taught to remove an engine from a pylon, components removal and engine inspection as it correlates with the engine manual. All training is engine specific, said Meyers. GE launched Repair By Piece Part Replacement Training over a year ago to instruct students how to break down an engine module into pieces.
For basic engine maintenance training for newer powerplants, CTEC incorporates Information Technology (IT) such as 3D models and interactive exercises using iPads to dissect the engine. Meyers said training methodologies have evolved over the years to appeal to younger technology-savvy students.
Keeping training methodologies current is one of the reasons GE launched CTEC University. The online school allows students to call up 3D and/or audio enhanced training modules at any time. GE provides advanced AMT or Level 4 heavy maintenance training. The students are taught to remove and repair various modules of the engine, such as the fan section, the Low Pressure Turbine (LPT), the High Pressure Turbine (HPT) and compressor, the first component in the engine core.
Meyers explained that “the MRO in many cases is breaking the engine into modules and sending it to one of our service shops. So we teach a module level course for large commercial engines.”
GE offers an optional 5-day specialized diagnostic course to show students on how to read and interpret engine data. The CTEC line maintenance course includes next generation borescope training in which 3D imaging tools are used to provide a photo or video of the engine’s interior.
GE continues to modify the syllabus to include new engines and improvements to existing powerplants. GE accommodates technologies introduced or enhanced in the GEnx family into the curriculum. CTEC does not provide composite repair at any of the maintenance training facilities. “We try and explain the differences of technology on that engine and troubleshoot faults of the engine, versus going into specific repair,” Meyers said. If the engine is more complex because of exterior configuration, “we provide methodology on the most productive way of providing maintenance on a complex engine,” he explained.
Although capable of housing larger engines, the Rolls-Royce Regional Customer Training Center (RCTC) in Indianapolis, Ind. focuses mainly on AMT training for small civil engines, of which the biggest is the BR715, the 23,000-pound thrust capable powerplant for the Boeing 717-200. The BR700 family of engines also powers several business jets, including the Bombardier Global Express, Gulfstream V and Citation X. The BR725, powers the newer Gulfstream G650. RCTC also provides maintenance training on the AE 3007, which powers the Embraer E135 and E145 regional jets.
The facility also provides AMT training on engines for civil and military rotorcraft. RCTC provides AMT training for 1,200 students annually. A three-day engine familiarization course, a skill Level 1 class, is offered. Students learn about engine configuration, key external engine components and internal instruction design, which includes airflows and oil flows through the engine, an important skill when servicing and troubleshooting the engine.
“We try and provide a tiered system” to training, said Stephen C. Ley, Head of Customer & Product Training for North America. “We find that most of the maintenance technicians have a good understanding of engine basics.”
Learning or relearning basic AMT skills is beneficial, but for a number of AMTs, the five-day course allows students for the first time to interact directly with the OEM. The idea, said Ley, is to give a student a deeper understanding of “what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and how it fits into the bigger picture.”
Training AMTs today is not about the using latest in training devices and techniques, but about gaining overall understanding of the process in classroom and on-floor practical training.
As for technology, RCTC is careful about what devices are used. So-called 3D trainers “have minimal value,” said Ley. “Our customers are telling us they prefer more hands-on skills training.”
RCTC doesn’t teach students how to tear down an engine, with one exception, the M250 turboshaft powerplant. Hands-on sessions are coupled with self-paced, computer-based training. The object is to enable the operator’s AMTs to perform line and heavy maintenance, inspection, and troubleshooting and ground checkout on the entire M250 family of engines.
RCTC provides familiarization, line and heavy maintenance training for the RR300 turboshaft engine, the exclusive powerplant for the Robinson R66 helicopter. Robinson mandates that all dealers must take an RR300 engine familiarization course as a requirement to becoming a dealer.
Ley said Rolls-Royce is becoming more involved with e-learning to supplement existing traditional instruction. Company instructors utilize a robust process (MS 7.2) to design and develop content that is contained within its Rolls-Royce Quality Management System (RRQMS). Quality and content design is reviewed at regular intervals.
This process also includes a critical step that involves capture of customer training requirements and desired business outcomes to ensure that the Return on Investment is maximized, Ley said. Instructors are trained to design learning content using a flexible set of tools and templates found within the online based MS 7.2 Support Center. Content is created using the Adobe e-learning suite, which includes Captivate. A variety of media tools are used from video clips, audio, photographs, animation and 3D visuals. The intent is to create a learning package that is effective, practical and cost effective.
Sometimes students come to RCTC to develop specific skills, not take a full round of courses.
“It doesn’t make any sense to sit through a five-day maintenance training class just to learn a few skills,” Ley said. “Why not create an online job aid that is based upon a specific need?”
Ley said the goal is to convert some existing instructor-led engine familiarization courses to online courses, which customers can access through Rolls-Royce MyLearning.
Online courses are good for product familiarization or gaining access to job aids that are targeted to specific in-service tasks. Training online provides flexibility, plus online training is self-paced and offered 24/7. Training can also be deployed using mobile devices. “This is the direction we want to head, so do our customers,” Ley said.
There are other reasons why OEMs are relying more on online instruction. Such a service provides value to the customer and reduces risk for Rolls-Royce in executing the engine contract. Online task aids save money for the OEM in no-fault found incidents and for the airline in lost revenue from taking the aircraft out of service unnecessarily.
With its Total Care fly-by-the-hour package, Rolls-Royce is responsible for all engine parts and shop visits. Competitors’ fly-by-the-hour packages also provide for parts and upkeep of the engine.
Rolls-Royce Customer & Product Training is also developing what is known in-house as Data Driven Learning Solutions (DDLS), which AMTs can review as an online job or task aid. This process blends Rolls-Royce’s knowledge of its products and current in-service issues with its training content design processes to create concise and targeted learning solutions that can be deployed online, in classrooms and elsewhere.
Rolls-Royce says it is seeing “an increase in the number of requested quotes” for off-site AMT training services at or near the customers’ base of operations. The trend is being seen in “both corporate and regional aircraft markets and well as those in defense.”
At present, Rolls-Royce has training sites in Indianapolis, Alesund, Norway; Singapore; Bristol and Derby, England. Other sites are under review.
Across the pond, Rolls-Royce’s AMT training on large commercial aircraft engines continues to evolve at the company’s Derby facilities, where all variants of the Trent engine are made.
AMT training continues on the Trent 900 powerplant for the A380 as well as the Trent 1000, which is offered on the B787. Rolls-Royce now offers engine removal and installation training for the Trent 1000 when the first B787 is delivered. Like other OEM programs, Rolls-Royce training for the Trent 900 and 1000 includes troubleshooting, which helps ensure longer time on-wing, with better on-wing service. Students visit Derby for Rolls-Royce’s required eight-day classroom and practical course, which includes software and hardware training aids.
The biggest change at Pratt & Whitney’s Customer Training Center in East Hartford, Conn. is the increasing training of AMTs on powerplants made by International Aero Engines, the joint venture between Pratt & Whitney and several companies. The original collaboration involved Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce, Japanese Aero Engine Corporation, MTU Aero Engines and FiatAvio. Fiat Avio dropped out early on and Rolls-Royce sold its 32.5% stake in late June 2012.
“We will be able to train to one source at one location,” said Andrew Bordick, Manager of Pratt & Whitney’s Customer Training Center in East Hartford, Conn.
In keeping with the IAE integration, Pratt & Whitney will grow its other major AMT training center in Beijing. The expansion at the China Customer Training Center (CCTC) will include sending a V2500 engine for training. Further growth at the China center will depend upon sales of the Pratt & Whitney engines in the region.
Bordick said Pratt & Whitney is considering developing additional training facilities in the Middle East and India. The company continues its’ “On-Site” training program where instructors train AMTs at or near the customer’s headquarters, typically. This training, which applies to commercial and military engines, is expected to grow, Bordick said. An On Site team is currently in Pakistan.
“The intent is to go where the customer demand [for training] is,” he said. On Site training does not include traveling with a full size engine as the manufacturer thinks this would be expensive and counterproductive. However, sending an engine to a fixed facility, such as the CCTC for long-term use is worthwhile, Bordick said.
Pratt & Whitney is developing courses for its’ highly fuel-efficient geared turbofan engines, such as the PW1000G, which will power the Airbus A320neo. Bordick describes this 3D aided training as a “real step change in what we do for customer training.”
CTC offers AMT’s an instructor led familiarization course with hands-on training as well as advanced training, plus on-demand courses that focuses specifically on one engine and or its’ systems. CTC’s troubleshooting course is designed to deliver a variety of faults for multiple aircraft platforms. The PTS simulation software uses multiple monitors to accurately display fault isolation. Troubleshooting exercises use actual electrical, hydraulic and other schematics, which respond as the aircraft would to each troubleshooting procedure. Graphics provide a physical representation of the aircraft or system being examined.
The center also augments certificated courses with systems understanding courses using 3D models that can be highlighted for better understanding. Pratt & Whitney is working to provide students with their own tablet.
Like other engine makers, Pratt & Whitney utilizes e-learning for instruction, but stresses that it is only one segment of a broad-based curriculum. e-learning should be “supplemental”, not a primary source of instruction, said Bordick. The company will use e-learning to provide “vignettes” on component instruction.
Pratt & Whitney’s CTC teaches several hundred courses per year to over 4,000 students globally.
Some AMTs continue to seek maintenance training from manufacturers’ approved independent training houses. But customers will insist that their AMTs receive initial and advanced training directly from the engine manufacturer as part of an engine purchase agreement. Which makes sense, considering the manufacturers know more about their engines than anyone.