The new year started with a prestigious and important milestone for the Avio Aero team in charge of marine propulsion - that is, of manufacturing and services. Indeed, one of our main and historical customers, the Italian Navy, has decided - through Fincantieri, an Italian shipbuilding company - to expand their fleet with 7 new Multipurpose Offshore patrol ships (known by their Italian acronym PPA). The first naval unit will be delivered by 2021, followed by the others starting from 2022 until 2026.The PPA, which is 133.3 meters long, has a very high level of innovation, together with an extremely flexible configuration that means it is capable of carrying out a variety of tasks, which range from patrolling with sea rescue abilities, to operations in support of Civil Defense, and, in its more equipped configuration, as a frontline combat ship. This is why it is commonly classified as “dual use.” This commission continues a long tradition of collaboration between Avio Aero and the Italian Navy, beginning in 1977, when Italy’s Naval command and the Fincantieri shipbuilding group were the first to adopt the LM2500 gas turbines, for the frigate classes Lupo, Maestrale and Artigliere; the De la Penne-class destroyer; the short-deck aircraft carrier Garibaldi; the Andrea Doria-class destroyer; and the aircraft carrier Cavour. More recently, the Italian-French FREMM program adopted the more powerful and innovative LM2500+G4 turbine, the same system chosen now for the PPA ships.
Patrol ships can carry up to 171 persons, and can achieve a cruising speed that can exceed 32 knots thanks to a system called CODAG, or combined diesel and gas turbine. The latter is an outstanding product made by Avio Aero, and it can produce up to 32 MW of power. The PPAs also have a low environmental impact, thanks to advanced low emission auxiliary propulsion systems (electrical engines). In addition to the GAS turbine, the Shipset - the so-called propulsion packet offered by Avio Aero and GE Marine - contains our Base&Enclosure (the sophisticated “box,” an exclusive Avio Aero design, that houses the gas turbine on the ship, with instruments, connections and accessories), a newly designed TCS (the electronic Turbine Control System), and a series of other accessories tailored to the customer's specific needs.
“An intense negotiation, that lasted months, in which the whole team displayed great responsiveness, as well as an excellent team spirit from Finance, Legal, Engineering, Sourcing and OTR (order to remittance) at the Turin and Brindisi offices,” tells us Federico Buono, Senior Commercial Proposal Director at Avio Aero. “Working as a team truly makes a difference, as we learned first-hand in this case, and we will require even greater team effort to meet these very tight deadlines for the first deliveries.”
An ambitious milestone, considering that for Avio Aero, the 7 shipsets will have to be delivered between 2017 and 2022. Avio Aero was therefore recognized as a highly reliable company in this sector, with many years of experience in LM family turbines, with lower lifecycle costs, precisely due to the fact that product distribution can rely on an efficient worldwide network for technical support, concerted efforts and accessories.
Avio Aero will have full Design Responsibility for the whole Shipset, and this will entail a strong engineering and program coordination between our Rivalta and Brindisi centers. The contract signed in January also includes 10 years of ISS (in service support), which involves corrective and preventive maintenance on engines and will be managed by the Brindisi factory, which just in the recent issues of about magazine was described as the absolute center of excellence for its service on turbines for naval and industrial use.
At the Brindisi plant, we produce up to 20% of the components for the LM2500 engine, used by 34 international Navies and in countless industrial and marine applications. The facility in Puglia has also been chosen as GE’s Center of Excellence for the overhaul and repair of GE’s LM2500 family of gas turbines and the LM6000 gas turbine; outside of the US, the Brindisi facility is currently the largest overhaul center for these turbines.
“This result makes us proud because, once again, it's proof of our role as a strategic partner in Italian Defense,” commented Riccardo Procacci. “Ours is a technological leadership that, from 2005 until today, has seen GE Marine’s LM2500 turbines conquer 30 new naval supply programs, with 1,300 engines operating all over the world and over 13 million hours of service accumulated. In addition, we offer our international logistical supply chain—based on the concerted efforts between GE’s different industrial plants—which represents a major resource for the independence and autonomy of the Italian Navy, which can thus benefit from cost efficiencies throughout the lifecycle of its products.”