Intermountain Turbine Services: The HTS900 Experts

Avatar for Lisa GordonLisa Gordon | April 14, 2022

Estimated reading time 9 minutes, 6 seconds.

Intermountain Turbine Services (ITS) believes the potential is bright for Honeywell’s HTS900 turboshaft engine, and it is positioning to support operators with the recent opening of a new multi-million-dollar test cell.

Based in Lindon, Utah, ITS has cultivated a well-deserved reputation as an expert in Honeywell’s popular LTS101 turboshaft engine, the predecessor of the HTS900. 

Founded in 1993 by president and CEO Darryl K. Christensen, ITS has the distinction of being one of only two original equipment manufacturer (OEM)-approved LTS101 authorized service centers in the world and the only HTS900 authorized service center, providing both engine heavy maintenance and hardware. It is also the world’s premier authorized maintenance center for LTS101 and HTS900 main fuel pumps and high-pressure fuel filters, manufactured by Triumph Group. 

The 1,000-shaft horsepower (shp) class HTS900 engine currently powers the Eagle 407HP, a re-engined version of the Bell 407, and Leonardo’s AW09. 

Although the global HTS900 fleet is currently small, ITS anticipates significant growth. For two years, the company has been planning the addition of its new test cell, bringing it online in September 2021. Aside from the OEM itself, the HTS900 test cell at ITS is the only one in the world. 

“We’re putting this in place to make sure we can support the HTS900 fleet,” Darryl said. “The fact that we now have a correlated, operational test cell here allows faster maintenance turnaround times, as well as quicker diagnostic capabilities. It’s been in process for two years since the contract was signed, but we’ve been preparing for it longer than that.”

The new test cell is housed in a separate 1,000-square-foot, structurally-reinforced building adjacent to the ITS facilities in Lindon. Although ITS still operates its original LTS101 test cell, the new facility offers what Darryl called a “step change” in technology.

The equipment boasts advanced testing features, including an automated dyno controller and complete compatibility with full authority digital engine control (FADEC)-equipped engines. Rated to handle up to 2,500 shp, the new test cell is outfitted with 360-degree cameras so technicians can monitor all aspects of the engine remotely.

“Once the engine is up to horsepower, the technicians are not in the room,” explained Brad Christensen, ITS general manager. “It enhances safety.”

Designed by CEL Aerospace Group in Montreal, Quebec, the test cell also features an automated safety shutdown protocol to protect employees and equipment, a full fly-by-wire system for actuating engines that incorporate hydromechanical controls, and a high-end Mattei rotary screw compressor. Although built specifically for the HTS900, the new test cell can also be used for the LTS101, which increases ITS’s capability to support the older engine.

“We believe that this test cell puts us in a great position for the imminent certification of the Kopter AW09 and any other potential future platforms,” Darryl said.

Full-service support

The new HTS900 engine test cell is only the latest in a long line of ITS supports designed to keep operators flying. In addition to the service and sale of parts and engines, ITS also exchanges complete engines and offers full aircraft on ground (AOG) priority service around the clock.

Darryl said the company sends maintenance technicians into the field to assist customers with procedures, such as borescope inspections. Additionally, it provides onsite training, approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, Transport Canada, and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, at its Utah headquarters, where technicians can earn certificates for servicing both engine types. 

“Lately, since COVID-19, we will go onsite to offer courses at their facilities,” he said. “It has been an option, and we are fortunate to have technicians Chad Hawke and Luke Olsen, who have vast experience in both onsite maintenance and training for the HTS900.”

When the 24/7 support line rings, ITS determines the type of action that is required, based on client issue and location. That response may come from the Lindon headquarters in the form of a late-night parts shipment, or from Roger Gibbs, the company’s New Zealand-based field service director.

“We have couriers showing up in the middle of the night to put parts on planes,” Darryl said. “Or, they will drive them there — whatever is fastest for the customer.”

“The fact that we now have a correlated, operational test cell here allows faster maintenance turnaround times, as well as quicker diagnostic capabilities.”

Darryl K. Christensen, president and CEO, ITS.

In response to a growing fleet, ITS has been increasing its inventory levels. The company offers the largest stock of LTS101 inventory outside of Honeywell, with 97% of the items customers need in stock, including a fleet of rental engines it manages for both the LTS101 and HTS900.

Darryl is proud of the family atmosphere at ITS. Not only are his customers treated like family, but his team includes his sister and several second-generation members of the Christensen clan, including his two sons and two daughters. 

“Our goal is to keep our customers supported, and we strive to instill that goal into every member of the ITS family,” he said.

According to company sales director, Mike Matthews, ITS plans to send its sales and service team to Heli-Expo 2022 in Dallas, Texas, where visitors to its booth can learn more about the company’s newly expanded test cell capabilities. For those operating LTS101 or HTS900 engines, it will be the place to be.

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