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When AFI KLM E&M contributes to ‘Gross Drukair Happiness’

Do you know the trickiest landing strips in the world? Our On Wing Services (OWS) teams get a chance to try them during their missions. This time let’s land in Bhutan, at Paro airport.

When an Airbus A319 owned by Bhutanese airline Drukair suffered an engine surge before take-off, the plane was grounded at Paro International Airport, which is considered one of the most challenging airports in the world. In these particular conditions, it was impossible to transport a spare CFM56-5B engine by air or road and perform a standard engine change. To keep flying, a single solution: ask the experts who know what to do anywhere…

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Expertise at your fingertips

Drukair called AFI KLM E&M teams who immediately set up a first mission, to assess the damage and consider all possible solutions to save the engine.

“We deployed an initial team of experts to inspect the engine, find the source of the problem and consider a repair solution. Moreover, health restrictions added to the complexity of the mission. We like to take on challenges, and this adventure was as good as we could have hoped for.”

Martin Molinié

Head of AFI KLM E&M On Wing Services

The team carried out the necessary boroscopic inspections, supported locally by Drukair technicians. It took 3 days to inspect the entire engine and list all the damage generated by the engine surge, in particular on the high-pressure compressor (HPC) blades. Back in Paris, all the data collected was analyzed by AFI KLM E&M's engineering teams. All the resources and capabilities of the engine department were mobilized to consider the most adapted repair scenarios in terms of both economical and operational efficiency.

“We considered all options and used our intimate knowledge of the engine and operational requirements, as we are not only an MRO, but also an airline. Basically, it was about removing the engine, having all the material available (from our stock or surplus market), to repair the booster, replacing LPC blades, HPC casing, in total more than 700 blades.”

Vincent Fokkinga

AFI KLM E&M Customer Support Manager

As it happens, cooperation is a decisive factor for success. Many regular exchanges took place between the two companies and working together has made sense.

The Power of a Global Group

But the real challenge, beyond the engineering study, was to carry out the repair. The success of this operation depended on the sourcing of parts, the preparation of maintenance kits and tools and the associated logistics issues during the health crisis and travel restrictions period.

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“At this moment, we all had in mind that we would need to count on all the strengths at our disposal to achieve our goal. As it was also a logistics challenge, we were able to rely on the Air France-KLM group teams to arrange the shipping of the material and the transfer of our OWS experts at the destination.”

Louis Bressenot

OWS coordinator

Step by step, blade by blade

The material shipped on-site is a concentrate of our innovations, based on long-standing knowhow and feedback from years of operational at the service of performance. Nothing has been left to chance and technicians have been able to rely on the almost 6 tons of material sent to Paro.

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“On the spot you have to adapt, you can only rely on a perfect preparation and on your own experience, and, believe me, it takes experience to carry out this kind of intervention.”

Matthieu Cousin

OWS expert at AFI KLM E&M

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No less than 700 blades were replaced after removing the engine and separating the booster with the utmost care. The engine runup performed after the complete installation of the CFM56 on wing confirmed the huge achievement of the operation. The cooperation between the AFI KLM E&M and Drukair teams driven by the same passion and commitment made this success.

“Thank you very much for sending a highly skilled and an efficient team for this job. This important and unique intervention was completed successfully. We are impressed and satisfied. Although our contact has been with only a few of you, we understand that a lot more people were involved. Our appreciation and gratitude also goes to all those involved in making this intervention a success. I know we have put a lot of pressure on you, but it was vital for us. It has indeed been quite an experience working on this project. We have learned a lot and likewise, we hope that AFI KLM E&M has also learned a lot from this.”

Sonam Tobgay

Drukair Engineering Manager

Expertise is not over

“Teams have had an amazing human experience, one more that makes us proud and reinforces our skills. We are still gaining knowledge, as the removed parts are now being repaired in our workshops. Because we have been able to rely on the 4 pillars making up our DNA, we delivered the BEST4DRUKAIR in such particular conditions: 100% Airline-MRO, 100% Adaptiveness®, 100% Global Network, 100% Innovation.”

Eric Bleuse

AFI KLM E&M VP Customer Support Engines Services