Pratt & Whitney's EcoPower engine wash system, which promises to save fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, has become an attractive option for a number of airlines. At least 50 so far this year have selected the technology. In June, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines signed multiyear agreements with Pratt for EcoPower, which is offered by the manufacturer's Global Service Partners division.

"Pratt & Whitney's EcoPower can pay for itself in a matter of weeks and provides significant benefits for several months following a wash," GSP Line Maintenance Services Director Joanne Hastings told Airline Procurement.

Developed in 2004, EcoPower uses atomized, purified water to wash engines in a closed-loop system that captures all effluent, eliminating the possibility of ground contamination. Fully transportable, the system serves to reduce fuel burn because it is not necessary to move aircraft from the gate to a maintenance area for engine washes. As cleaner engines typically result in better efficiency, Pratt estimates that its washing system can reduce fuel consumption by about 1.2% and increase engine EGT margin by as much as 15 deg. C.

United, which plans to implement the EcoPower service across its fleet and offer it to third-party customers, expects to save 3 million gallons of jet fuel per year and reduce CO2 emissions by about 28,000 tonnes.

"With unprecedented fuel costs, United continues to look for innovative solutions to save on jet fuel," Engineering, Materials and Planning VP Rick Wysong said. "In addition to saving fuel and improving engine performance, this system has the added benefit of being a faster, safer and more environmentally friendly way to clean our engines, enabling us to reduce our overall carbon dioxide emissions."

Southwest has begun using EcoPower at airports in Orlando and Oakland and anticipates saving $20 million in fuel costs and eliminating 135 million lb. of CO2 emissions. As of late May, it already had completed 248 engine washes with EcoPower and estimated it had saved about $1.6 million in fuel from the technology.

"We are extremely pleased with the results we've seen since beginning regular washes in April with Pratt & Whitney's EcoPower Engine Wash System," Maintenance and Engineering VP Jim Sokol remarked. "The fuel savings and emission reductions have exceeded expectations."

The price of Pratt's EcoPower service ranges from $3,000 to $5,000 and washes usually take between 60 and 90 min. Demand for the service has grown, and the company estimates it will wash about 5,000 engines this year. "We've seen amazing growth in our EcoPower business as the result of sharply rising fuel costs, increasing environmental focus and proven success of our patented engine wash system," GSP Senior VP and GM Jim Keenan said.

In addition to Southwest and United, Pratt has more than 45 other EcoPower customers, including Hawaiian Airlines, Martinair, Northwest Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Air India, Swiss International Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic.

"This is the right technology at exactly the right time in the industry," Keenan told The Wall Street Journal recently. Pratt has set up service centers at airports in New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Amsterdam and Changi. The OEM is discussing potential EcoPower deals with several other carriers, some of which have agreed to test the technology in the field.

According to Martinair Maintenance & Engineering VP Paul Horstink, Pratt's pilot program "resulted in engine performance improvements, operating cost reductions and emission reductions," specifically, "substantial takeoff EGT improvements as well as cruise fuel flow improvements." Martinair, which signed a three-year deal for EcoPower services in November 2006, estimates it will achieve a 23.7-million-lb. reduction in CO2 emissions per year.