Improved remaining useful life estimations for on-condition parts in aircraft engines

University dissertation from Skövde : University of Skövde

Abstract: This thesis focuses on obtaining better estimates of remaining life for on-condition (OC) parts in aircraft engines. Aircraft engine components are commonly classified into three categories, life-limited parts (LLP), OC-parts and consumables. Engine maintenance typi-cally accounts for 10% to 20% of aircraft-related operating cost. Current methods to esti-mate remaining life for OC parts have been found insufficient and this thesis aims to devel-op a method that obtains better life estimates of OC part. Improved life estimates are es-sential to facilitate more reliable maintenance plans and lower maintenance costs. In the thesis, OC parts that need a better life estimates are identified and suitable prognosis methodologies for estimating the remaining life are presented.Three papers are appended to the thesis. The first paper lays out the main principles of air-craft engine maintenance and identifies the potential for improving maintenance planning by improving the remaining life estimation for the OC parts. The paper concludes that re-search is needed to find better estimates so that the right amount of maintenance is per-formed at each maintenance occasion.The second paper describes the aircraft and its engine from a system of system perspective. The aim of the paper is to show that no system is stronger than its weakest part and that there is a potential to increase the availability and readiness of the complete system, the aircraft engine, by introducing better life estimates for OC parts. Furthermore, a review of all engine parts, no matter if they are life-limited or on-condition, which needs to be incor-porated in a replacement model for maintenance optimization, is given. The paper con-cludes that the reliability of the complete aircraft engine would be increased if better life estimates are presented also for the OC parts.The third paper includes an evolved analysis of the subject and the analysis moves deeper in to a subsystem/module of the engine, the low pressure turbine. The specific subsys-tem/module is further analyzed to show the potential of increased reliability for the subsys-tem/module and the complete system, the aircraft engine, if better life estimates for the OC parts are obtained. Methods on how to estimate remaining life is discussed in this paper. It is stated that life estimates can be based on visual inspections, available testing methods (e.g. non destructive testing ) or new techniques that may be need to be developed based on remaining useful life estimations. To estimate the remaining life for the OC parts well es-tablished prognostic techniques such as physic-based, data-driven, symbolic, hybrid, or context awareness approaches that combine contextual/situation information awareness will be considered.

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