Five years after its first installation on board a Dassault Falcon 7X business jet, Pratt & Whitney Canada's FAST™ (Flight Data Acquisition Storage and Transmission System) engine diagnostic solution is finding a growing number of customers in the regional airline market.
The FAST system's certification in mid-2012 for the Bombardier Q400 regional airliner is proving to be a major success and last year it began flying on the ATR 42 and ATR 72 twin-turboprops as well. In addition, P&WC has Supplemental Type Certificates (STC’s) for FAST aboard the Bombardier Q200 and Q300 regional airliners, the Bombardier Learjet 60 business jet, and most recently the AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter.
"FAST is the latest innovation in our suite of advanced diagnostic solutions and is gaining in popularity as we continue to expand its capability to meet our customers' requests and needs," says John Di Bert, Vice President, Customer Service, P&WC. "For example, we are developing an automated propeller balancing trending solution for our Bombardier and ATR customers that simplifies the propeller re-balancing task. The solution we have in design is game changing. We are also working on an innovative automated Flight time, Block time solution that will provide airlines with this critical operational information that today, is primarily collected manually on these aircraft."
FAST™ is an end-to-end system that automatically collects full flight engine and aircraft flight data recorder files and transmits these via cellular coverage when the aircraft lands. The data is delivered in the required format to the operators' data analysis center and the engine performance metrics to the trend analysis center, saving airlines time and money and ensuring simple integration into their operations. Such high quality, high volume data post-flight ensures a higher quality engine condition trend monitoring result and gives operators more confidence with preventative maintenance notifications.
"FAST allows regional airlines and other operators to plan their maintenance sessions in advance, taking advantage of overnight layovers, for example," says Di Bert. "Because the system provides reliable early detection of minor issues, preventive maintenance can be conducted before these minor issues affect dispatch availability. It also provides a timely post-flight fault code/event review which enables the determination of an aircraft’s immediate availability."
The FAST system is unique in that it goes beyond traditional diagnostics, prognostics and trend monitoring to provide a full Flight Operations Quality Analysis (FOQA) and flight time block time solution. "There is no competing solution that can match the breadth of automation, integration and capability at its price point, giving operators a very cost effective method to upgrade their aircraft to data automation," notes Di Bert.