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AAR PetroTech Inc., manufacturer of hydraulic oil purification systems, has announced that it has developed a version of its purification technology to serve the commercial airline industry.
The company’s oil purification systems are currently deployed in the industrial manufacturing sector, which uses mineral-based oils in its hydraulic equipment. Commercial planes use Skydrol, a synthetic fluid that costs considerably more than mineral-based oils, making purification a potentially enormous cost-savings proposition for the airlines.
According to Haig Hachadoorian, director of product development for AAR PetroTech, oil purification can extend the life of hydraulic components by as much as 10 times. The cost-savings benefits are many, from reduced component wear and maintenance costs to the reduction or elimination of new oil purchases and waste oil disposal costs.
“Aviation customers, especially airlines and other aircraft operators, OEMs and MROs, can now reap the same benefits through the purification of Skydrol at low cost,” Hachadoorian says. “The relatively high price tag of Skydrol makes the savings potential even greater.”
Hachadoorian pioneered portable oil purification systems in the 1970s. In 2008, his company, Petroleum Technology Inc., launched a strategic partnership with AAR Aircraft Component Services Inc., which offered long-established relationships with the major airline companies.
“Our technology will help aviation stakeholders keep their components on wing longer, thus minimizing hydraulic component removal rates and boosting reliability,” said Bob Sopp, executive vice president for AAR Corp. “This translates into lower aircraft-on-ground rates, shorter delay time and leaner hydraulic component inventory requirements. When you add up the high costs of hydraulic fluid and component replacement, the savings gained through purification with our machines will be significant.”
Recently, a major airline client came to AAR’s facility for maintenance, reporting problems with its planes’ hydraulic systems and suspecting the cause to be contaminated fluid. Hachadoorian saw an opportunity to demonstrate the potential benefits of oil purification.
“We were amazed at how dirty the fluid was,” he said.
Hachadoorian and his team connected a purification unit to a hydraulic mule, which in turn was connected to an aircraft. Within six hours, the unit had reduced the oil’s water content — a typical contaminant — from 2,000 parts per million to 380 ppm. Skydrol specifies that water content in its fluid not exceed 2,000 ppm. Particulate contamination levels were reduced from an ISO Code of 21/19/15 to 14/12/8 — a significant reduction.
The company’s proprietary process combines microfiltration with low-temperature vacuum distillation. An ultra-fine filter first removes particulates from the oil, such as dirt, metals and other suspended solids. Then vacuum distillation removes water, gases (such as air), acids and other impurities.
“For large commercial airline fleets, downtime translates to lost revenue in the form of delays and cancelations,” Sopp notes. “These costs add up quickly. Oil purification and recycling can drastically reduce component wear and thus downtime. We think the airline industry will quickly see the value in making hydraulic oil purification part of its normal maintenance.”
The FAA does not mandate airlines to replace hydraulic fluid in aircraft, with the result that it becomes contaminated over time. Sopp notes that contaminated fluid in the hydraulic components can turn into a safety issue. He cites incidents of fighter planes crashing because of air trapped in the oil.
Hachadoorian confirms that the value of hydraulic oil purification for aircraft operators goes beyond the bottom line. “There’s no doubt that the revenue upside is huge,” he says. “Our industrial clients have been proving that for 30 years, but with commercial airlines, reliability and safety factors can’t be overestimated. We’re excited about showing them how purification is not only a money-saver, but why we believe it should be a part of every aircraft’s preventative maintenance routine.”
For more information, visit www.aarpetrotech.com.