Fourth RTM322 user conference
Report on the fourth and final RTM322 User Conference, held on the 4th and 5th of April at Biarritz, for operators of the NH90 and AW101 and teams from Safran Helicopter Engines.
It is always a pleasure for teams from Safran Helicopter Engines to welcome their operator customers. Its fourth RTM322 user conference, which took place at the ocean resort of Biarritz in south-west France, attracted delegations from Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Oman, Portugal, Sweden, the UK and France; as well as representatives from Airbus Helicopters and Leonardo.
Established in 2013, shortly after the announcement of the Jersey programme and the acquisition of Rolls-Royce's share in the engine, these conferences presented a valuable opportunity to brief RTM322 operators on these industrial transitions and to seek their front-line feedback. Frank discussion, constructive argument and the chance to air any complaints, always ensured that the meetings focused on the satisfaction and requirements of operators and, as a consequence, on improving engine performance – it has now passed the milestone of 1.3 million flight hours (of which 113,000 were flown during 2016.
This final meeting took place at the time of the Jersey closure. Says Florent Chauvancy, Director Heavy Helicopter Engines (HHE) programme, "it marks the end of a period of transition that began in 2013. In parallel to the industrial transfer of components built by Rolls-Royce, it was necessary to integrate the customer support component. This process was complex but was finally achieved without drama, and without affecting our clients in any way."
RTM322 Programme Manager Mathieu Berard underlined the efforts made in supporting the engine itself, with the reduction in cost-of-ownership, MTBUR (Mean Time Between Unscheduled Removal) and TAT (Turnaround Time). "We have also set up new maintenance procedures that will be of particular interest to operators, including the ability to perform compressor washes while the engines are in transit."
From the operator side, the Royal Danish Air Force, Australia's Army Aviation and France's ALAT (Aviation Légère de l'Armée de Terre) made presentations on their missions involving the AW101 and NH90 helicopters and their experiences with the RTM322. In parallel, several technical workshops and high-level meetings took place.
So, did this event mark a final curtain-call for RTM322 customer events? Not at all. It may have been the final conference in this format, but opportunities for the groups to meet are invaluable and will continue. Explains Fréderic Bugeon, VP Support Sales, Marketing and Customer Satisfaction, "we plan to adopt an operator symposium model for future meetings with RTM322 operators, where the emphasis will be on workshops and customer feedback."
From Jersey to MFP – a four-year transfer process
Initiated in April 2013, the Jersey programme involved the recovery of several strands of the Rolls-Royce share in the RTM322 programme. The first, industrial strand covered the manufacture of several engine sub-assemblies (notably the high-pressure turbine and air-cooled impeller blades, combustion chamber, air intake and intake filter) and their supply chains. Today, the complete engine is built by Safran Helicopter Engines and each RTM322 is assembled at our factory in Bordes.
In parallel, our Support and Services teams took responsibility for the engine. Since then, long-term GSP (Global Support Package) contracts have been signed with the UK (in 2013), Denmark and France. A separate support contract is in place with Germany while discussions are taking place with Norway and Portugal.
Another direct consequence of the acquisition of the Rolls-Royce share in the RTM322, and of the RRTM joint venture, has been the launch of the new family of high-power engines (Moteurs à Forte Puissance or MFP). Their architecture is based on that of the RTM322 and many of the design techniques have evolved from the Tech 3000 demonstrator programme. Developments in this programme will also result in benefits that can be offered to existing RTM322 operators.