Short for Engine Condition Trend Monitoring, ECTM can be defined as the usage of engine operational data to look for damage, excessive wear, and deterioration in aircraft engines. It is a technique used to closely and continuously monitor the health of aircraft engines.
The Use of Engine Condition Trend Monitoring
By conducting ECTM analysis, operators can track various parameters, including OAT, altitude, airspeed, N1/N2 RPMs, ITT, vibrations, and fuel flow. Using these parameters helps them better predict the need for aircraft engine maintenance way before failure may occur. While simply knowing these parameters cannot entirely stop the initial issues from happening, Engine Condition Trend Monitoring is an effective tool for predicting an engine failure before secondary damage can occur.
A good example of what information can be received are changes in RPM and downward trends of performance that may potentially lead to early ‘Hot Section’ deterioration and point to aircraft or engine bleed leaks. This trend might even tell operators when the best time to perform an engine water wash is.
Who Should Perform ECTM Analysis on Aircraft?
Whether the aircraft or engine is new or old, performing an ECTM analysis is always recommended. Certain companies, like Hawker Beechcraft, Honeywell Aerospace, and Cessna Citation, provide ETCM analysis as a subscription-based service. When trained properly, anyone can perform this analysis manually. However, the high risk for errors is to be kept in mind.
These companies use systematic computers and sophisticated software for data interpretation. As part of the services provided, these companies notify the operator of any issues and anomalies that need to be addressed. One might say that the flight crew members of a particular aircraft could easily notice these trends. Though it may be true for sudden, significant changes in performance, Engine Condition Trend Monitoring helps in the identification of subtle changes that happen over time and those that might be missed by the flight crew. This is largely because planes tend to operate in differing environmental conditions for every flight taken, which causes it to be tougher for the flight crew to get a crystal clear picture of the performance of the engines. On the other hand, the ECTM software can seamlessly calculate the information provided and ultimately correct it as per the standard day conditions.
Parts of an Efficient ECTM Program
An ECTM kit or program usually comprises the following four processes:
When it comes to older aircraft operators, Knee Board trending is a way of collecting and submitting crucial information to ECTM providers. Knee Boards refer to the flight crew manually noting down required information at a specific time during each flight. On the other hand, newer planes are fully equipped to digitally record this information on storage devices mounted on the engine. Then, a laptop can be used to download the critical information to a file format which may be sent via email to the ECTM provider.
Modern engines have now started using ‘on-condition’ programs. In these programs, the engine’s teardown inspection for a Hot Section Inspection or an overhaul is not done. To take part in on-condition programs, Engine Condition Trend Monitoring is mandatory.
The Best Time to Start ECTM
Though it is always recommended and advisable to perform ECTM analysis, as a rule of thumb, operators can begin trending within the first 100 hours of the freshly performed Hot Section Inspection or overhaul. Having said that, few operators also perform ECTM just before their engine goes into an overhaul, which is also considered an acceptable practice.
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