Yesterday, I had previewed topics I would be covering from Lufthansa Cargo’s ‘Environmental Press Day’ held on August 13, 2012. In this piece, I take a deeper look at a process that was developed by Lufthansa to improve aircraft engine operating efficiencies.

Several presentations were made highlighting steps being taken by Lufthansa Cargo (along with the rest of the Lufthansa Airline Group) to extract every possible operational efficiency. Rising fuel costs and challenging economic times have created an opportunity for new processes and procedures to be developed that not only save money and prolong the life of equipment, but help the environment as well.

To that end, Lufthansa Technik (the Aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) division of Lufthansa Group), has developed the Cyclean Engine Cleaning System that is designed specifically to keep an engine operating as efficiently as possible by flushing dirt, sand, hydroncarbons and other contaminants out of an engine’s airflow and exhaust gas path.

The idea is simple, the engineering is brilliant and results lead to tangible recognition of fuel savings and in extending the life of engine components.

‘Cyclean’ is a portable system that is self contained (including it’s own water source and water recovery) and can be operated anywhere, including airport gates and ramps while an aircraft is being “turned around” between flights. It only takes 1 hour to complete the entire process.

Courtesy: Lufthansa Technik

An adapter containing nozzles that have 360 degree rotating ability is attached to the engine fan’s cone which allows for cleaning solution to be sprayed at high pressure and high temperature directly into the engine core. During the process the engine is “dry cranked” which allows for the fan blades to spin which atomizes the solution through the engine’s gas path. This allows for the solution to reach anywhere that any contaminants have had the ability to reach. A fantastic advantage of this system is that it is done with the engine fully assembled. No engine disassembly is required which in turn allows the engine to remain attached to the aircraft, which helps save considerable time and resources and does not take an aircraft out of circulation.

Courtesy: Lufthansa Technik

The build up of the contaminants (dirt, sand, hydrocarbons, etc.) accumulate over time and act as resistance and “heat-sink” which leads to an increase in an engine’s exhaust gas temperature (EGT). Engines are typically not efficient when EGT’s are above average and engines with above average EGT’s are prone to more mechanical failure which requires more maintenance over time. Cyclean has demonstrated the ability to reduce an engine’s EGT by an impressive 15%.

With Cyclean, contaminants are flushed out and captured by the cleaning system in a self contained waste water recovery system, allowing the engine to operate far more efficiently. With Cyclean alone, Lufthansa Technik has managed to help reduce engine fuel burn by 1% over the entire Lufthansa fleet. When you consider that Lufthansa used 10 MILLION TONS of fuel in 2011, a 1% reduction in fuel burn means 100,000 tons in saved fuel. Additionally, it also means fewer pollutants in the air, less carbon dioxide depleting the ozone, longer lasting engines and a huge fuel cost savings to the airline…..and that is NEVER a bad thing.

Cleanings are scheduled based on an engine’s hours of operation (Regional or Intercontinental) and flight conditions (Soft, Medium, Rough) which basically means that every engine on every Lufthansa Aircraft has a structured Cyclean cleaning schedule.

With Lufthansa’s overall goal to reduce their carbon foot-print to a carbon thumb-print, Cyclean is something that helps them accomplish this literally on a daily basis.

The next time you are in Frankfurt or Munich’s airport, take a look along the flight line and see if you can spot Cyclean in action. You’ll know exactly what they’re doing!

Lufthansa Technik has produced a video that demonstrates the Cyclean System in action. You can watch the impressive video by following this link to Lufthansa Technik.