Olympus Non-Advocate Review
Published March 23, 1999 by Royal Aeronautical Society in United Kingdom
Thirty years ago, this month, March 1969 the first flight of Concorde took place. A unique aircraft, instantly recognized throughout the world, a symbol of Anglo-French Aerospace Technology at its peak. An aircraft that today is still the flagship of BA, carrying the Important and Famous across the Atlantic daily at twice the speed of sound. It is without doubt the most prestigious aircraft in the world.
The initial design challenges tackled in the early 60s were daunting, not least for the powerplant and accomplished in the era of slide rules and log tables. The Olympus 593 engine derived from the TSR2 engine is required not only to accelerate the aircraft to MACH 2 but sustain this for 3 hours at altitudes up to 60k ft. As with any aviation project the ability of the engines to accomplish the required duty in a safe and reliable way is fundamental.
Concorde has achieved an excellent reliability record with exemplary safety, in the 23 years of daily service operation. This has been accomplished in an environment of ever-increasing expectations of on-time performance and where Customer Satisfaction is paramount. The profile of Concorde passengers and the attention of the media, puts any minor Concorde event, on the front pages and the main TV news. A major technical event would probably end Concorde operation and do significant damage to the reputation of BA.
This paper presents the pro-active response of today''s engineers to safeguarding Concorde operation by the identification and elimination of risk from the Olympus engines, thus enabling continued operation into the next millennium. The analysis described is over and above the routine examination of every component during engine overhaul and trend monitoring of all possible parameters during flight and throughout engine life.
The aim of the task was simple, to identify and quantify risk, from wherever risk arises and then mitigate/eliminate that risk. The scope included, Original Design, Configuration Control, Maintenance Practices, Repair and Overhaul Practices, Obsolesces, Aging and Human Factors. The method adopted to identify risk was a combination of: 1) Analyzing that which has happened. 2) Scrutinizing current working practices. 3) Brainstorming all potential occurrences.
This was carried out by teams combining detailed project knowledge and independent non-project expertise both from within the participating companies and from BMT Reliability Consultants. An independent challenge being an essential ingredient to remove complacency. We all have a tendency to become comfortable with long-standing defects which to fresh eyes may be indefensible. The non-advocate approach removes the comfort zone.
Involvement with aviation accidents indicates that most accidents are a combination of events which in themselves are minor but form a sequence to precipitate a hazardous occurrence. The individual events can be considered as linking together to form a chain. The aim of this exercise is to remove links from any potential chain and thus prevent the accident.