Air India says it has performed 124 engine washes in Mumbai since being appointed a Pratt & Whitney EcoPower franchisee in July 2010.
The carrier is conducting the service under a five-year agreement that made it the first airline to receive the patented engine wash technology, which is said to reduce fuel burn by about 1.2%.
In addition to growing its service network, Pratt has made other moves that signify its investment in EcoPower services. On Jan. 18, it completed an agreement with Gas Turbine Efficiency to purchase its aviation business, including the patented technology behind EcoPower. Pratt has held exclusive rights to use the technology since launching EcoPower services in 2004, but it now will own that patent itself.
The EcoPower engine wash system at Mumbai Santa Cruz domestic airport could be supplemented by a second system at another Indian airport once traffic volumes justify the investment, says S. Rotkar, executive director of MRO sales and marketing for Air India. About 200 washes per year would make that investment realistic.
Before signing the initial franchise agreement, Air India conducted a similar assessment. “We collected data for two months before making the final decision to get into the partnership,” says Rotkar. “The trial run data was encouraging.”
With more than 400 aircraft operating in India, opportunities are immense. Air India and Pratt & Whitney say they will tap into business from other Indian airlines. An airline with which they are negotiating is expected to sign up for EcoPower services by the end of the year, says William Welch, general manager of line maintenance services for Pratt & Whitney.
Plans are also in place to tap foreign carriers parking in Mumbai. “Our pricing is very competitive compared to the rest of the world because of lower labor costs and good management practices,” says Rotkar.
India is not the only growth area Pratt eyes for its engine wash services. In November 2009, it signed an agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines to expand the EcoPower network to the Middle East and North Africa. Through Saudia Aerospace Engineering Industries, the technical arm of the airline, the carrier will wash its own engines and provide engine wash services to other airlines in Jeddah and Riyadh.