Safran Ventilation Systems: "We are developing ventilation solutions that improve the customer experience"
What solution has Safran Ventilation Systems developed to improve the customer experience with regard to equipment on the Airbus A320 family of aircraft currently in operation?
C.R.: We have developed a predictive maintenance solution, called Ball Bearing Health Monitoring (BBHM), which we have incorporated into our fans on the Airbus A320s currently in service. It is an electronic card that is installed on existing equipment. So, it is a retrofit. It detects vibrations caused by worn bearings and allows impending failures to be predicted. This is because in the event of a bearing failure, fans may produce a smell of smoke in the cabin, forcing the crew to turn around or divert the flight.
What is the benefit for airlines?
C.R.: First of all, our solution allows airlines to reduce operational costs, since the equipment is shut down just before the breakdown occurs, so there is no smell of smoke and the aircraft can continue its flight. It also protects their image with passengers. Finally, this results in lower repair costs. The equipment only requires minor repairs, whereas a bearing failure would have led to the replacement of expensive, major parts.
Our fans offer more than 20,000 flight hours of uninterrupted operational service. However, many operators perform preventive bearing replacements every 10,000 hours to reduce the risk of smoke odors. Ball Bearing Health Monitoring prevents these fumes while extending the time between changes as much as possible.
What has the response to the offer been like?
C.R.: Very positive. In just a few months, we have had orders for thousands of electronic cards or associated modification services. So, what is the reason for this success? We were able to provide a response that met the needs articulated by operators during collaborative workshops. We then conducted a solid in-service evaluation with three airlines to ensure that the solution performed well in real conditions. We currently have 14,000 Airbus A320 fans in service that can be equipped with this solution. The technology can also be deployed on our equipment used in other programs as well as on fans that are not of our design.
And what about the new A320neo?
C.R.: Ball Bearing Health Monitoring can be used on fans installed on the Airbus A320 family of aircraft currently in service. For aircraft that are now coming off assembly lines, our Research & Technology teams have developed a new fan with a completely new architecture, which has demonstrated its effectiveness on the A380 and A350: the AE1819B00. Its operational life is estimated at about 60,000 flight hours, or 20 years of service! Our technical teams are working on incorporating Ball Bearing Health Monitoring into this new fan, which will thus benefit from the most advanced technologies on the market.