Propulsion - Safety, Affordability, and Readiness (P-SAR) is a new and unique program effort intended to achieve common engine sustainment goals across the Army, Navy, and Air Force aircraft fleets (see figure). Originally conceived as a follow-on to the highly successful High-Cycle Fatigue (HCF) program, P-SAR is evolving into a benchmark collaboration initiative that includes all Department of Defense (DoD) propulsion organizations, as well as National Aeronautics and Space Administration representatives and turbine engine original equipment manufacturers.
The P-SAR program team, established as a subcommittee of the Joint Propulsion Coordinating Committee (JPCC), is chartered to enact proactive propulsion management strategies leading to technology solutions beneficial to all member organizations. P-SAR participants have established rigorous goals to increase operator safety by reducing fleetwide catastrophic propulsion-related accidents by 75%, improve affordability by reducing DoD propulsion maintenance costs by $420 million per year, and enhance warfighter readiness by doubling the average time on wing between unscheduled engine removals.
Based on the results of an earlier triservice "deep look" study, the JPCC organized the P-SAR program team into a number of subgroups. The service branch with the most interest in and familiarity with the risks and cost drivers affecting a particular engine sustainment area (e.g., major propulsion system assemblies, mechanical systems, materials, and prognostic and health management programs) leads each subgroup. Overall P-SAR program objectives require that each subgroup not only identify potential component reliability improvements, but also focus its activities on eliminating known, inherent propulsion system failure modes. If, for example, a conventional thermal barrier coating limits the service life of a specific engine's turbine section, one of the subgroup's goals would be to develop an improved coating technology. The subgroup would also be responsible both for quantifying the improvement measurements to be validated during testing and for correctly characterizing the technology to assure its availability.
Each P-SAR subgroup compiles a list of its research objectives, along with the research approaches it will take to overcome the associated technological challenges. Subgroup members classify the objectives and approaches according to three major categories: (1) materials and manufacturing technologies, (2) component design and analysis, and (3) prognostic and health management. Subgroup members then prioritize the research challenges in each of the three categories based on the anticipated value of the improved technology. Next, the members develop research plans that align with demonstration opportunities and define the exit criteria that will be the focus of subsequent validation procedures. Finally, they match the highest-priority P-SAR research objectives with available funding in order to provide solutions with the greatest value to the warfighter in a timely manner.
The P-SAR initiative will evolve in response to the warfighter's most urgent needs. The current program team anticipates additional membership from academic institutions, propulsion system component vendors, and material suppliers as the effort matures. This broader-scale program participation will bring specialized abilities and expertise to complement current capabilities. By incorporating the proven practices of the HCF program, the PSAR program team intends to provide the DoD community with effective solutions to safety, affordability, and readiness issues.
Mr. Tom Brown (Universal Technology Corporation), of the Air Force Research Laboratory's Propulsion Directorate, wrote this article. For more information, contact TECH CONNECT at (800) 203-6451 or place a request at http://www.afrl.af.mil/techconn_index.asp . Reference document PR-H-06-01.