$52.3M for FADEC Upgrades to F100-PW-220 Jet Engines
United Technologies subsidiary Pratt and Whitney Incorporated of Hartford, Conn. received a contract for $52.3 million, in exchange for 1,051 Digital Electronic Engine Controls VI for the F100-PW-220/220E engine fleet which powers many of the USAF’s F-15 and F-16 aircraft. OC-ALC at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. issued the contract (F33657-98-D-0018).
So, what is a “Digital Engine Control VI”, anyway?
At a general level, Digital Engine Controls perform many of the same functions as the digital engine controls in your car, using sensor inputs from inside the engine itself and from outside the aircraft (i.e. air density, throttle lever position, engine temperatures, engine pressures, et. al.) to optimize performance in real time. These DEC VI controls are part of a FADEC, or “Full Authority Digital Engine Control” system, which was pioneered on the F100 and now equips most modern jet engines. In June 2007, F100 engines exceeded 21 million total flight hours. Upgrades to the FADEC system can put that experience to good use, and complement engine upgrades such as those underway in National Guard aircraft.
More specifically, the current Group V DECs and prior systems consisted of 2 “line replaceable units.” These LRUs are “black boxes” installed in the aircraft. If an LRU breaks, a replacement is inserted and it’s sent back to specialized rear areas for diagnosis and repair. The 2 LRUs were a DEEC (Digital Electronic Engine Control) and an EDU (Engine Diagnostic Unit). The DEEC controlled the engine. The EDU interfaced with the aircraft, and analyzed engine data to help alert the pilot and/or maintenance personnel to any engine anomalies.
The new Group VI DEEC combines these hardware and software features of Group V into a single LRU “black box”. Because the planes themselves haven’t changed, however, the EDU is replaced with a junction box which reroutes inputs into the new Group VI+ DEECs. This minimizes the amount of engine hardware and cables that need replacing as part of the upgrade. An additional pressure sensor offers increased reliability, and more accurate control of the engine.
Group VI DEC software upgrades provide improved stall margins and performance characteristics, making the new Group VI easier to maintain, replace, and troubleshoot.