With a well-established global aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul market worth $90.7bn (2020) technical aircraft services are big business. As the world’s oldest airline still operating under its original name, KLM was founded over one hundred years ago in 1919, the business has established a well-deserved reputation for engine maintenance. The maintenance business was operating in the $43.5bn (2020) market and overhauling engine for KLM and other airlines from its base in Schiphol.
One key step in the process is to remove oxidation from the metal engine parts which forms at high altitude. Traditionally, this required placing the stripped-down parts in a series of acid baths. However, this is an imprecise, toxic and dangerous process and not without environmental cost. The world’s oldest airline was looking for a new way to clean engines.
The KLM engineering team were astonished at the breadth of new, relevant technologies which could be brought to bear on the challenge of effectively cleaning oxidation from engine parts. Of the final 16 solutions, the most promising five were selected to receive engine parts for cleaning – the next stage in the selection process.