Pratt & Whitney Canada has won the contract to power Eurocopter’s EC 175, a new 6.7-metric-ton helicopter that will fill the gap between the EC 155 Dauphin and EC 255 Super Puma. The PT6C-67E turbine engine selected for the helicopter will be the first dual-channel Fadec-controlled PT6 from Pratt & Whitney Canada, noted company president Alain Bellemare. Internal changes, including more durable turbine blades and an improved compressor design, will allow the C-67E to produce 2,000 shp.
The EC 175 is expected to enter service in 2011. Pratt & Whitney Canada is planning early 2009 delivery of the first engines to Eurocopter for flight testing later that year.
Keyvan Fard, vice president for regional airline and turboshaft engines, said that while the PT6C-67E is an evolution of the venerable PT6 family, it also borrows heavily from other Pratt & Whitney Canada engine designs. “We have taken technology from other engine families–the PW600 compressor, for example–and incorporated materials that have emerged from development programs,” Fard said.
Eurocopter and partner Harbin Aircraft (a subsidiary of China’s AVIC II) are jointly developing the EC 175. Harbin Aircraft is in charge of the airframe, main rotor, tail transmission, flight controls and fuel system, while Eurocopter is responsible for the main gearbox, tail rotor, avionics, hydraulics and electrical system.
Early specifications include a 140- to 150-knot cruise speed and a 200-nm range. The helicopter’s five-blade main rotor will use Eurocopter’s Spheriflex architecture. Intended to compete with the AgustaWestland AW139, the partners expect to sell 800 EC 175s worldwide over the next 20 years.
Overall Business Strong
The award from Eurocopter is just one example of the successes the company has enjoyed in the last year. Speaking of P&WC’s total market, Bellemare said, “Our business overall is doing extremely well. We are seeing significant volume increases in all of our segments, particularly the helicopter market, and we’re growing our position every year.”
On the customer support front, he stated, “We are excited about the helicopter market. We have come from a marginal position a few years ago to ranking number one in the helicopter support market for seven straight years. We believe we have the best aftermarket support in the industry. We get tremendous feedback from the operators. They value the support they receive.”
Fard observed that the PW200 family is powering the Eurocopter EC 135, Agusta A109 and the Bell 429 (currently under development), and is also being used on unmanned aerial vehicles.
“We have a significant majority in the markets where we operate, and our production of helicopter engines has more than doubled since 2004,” Fard noted.
He added that the company has done particularly well in competitions for engines on light and medium twins. “On the medium twins, the AW139 is doing wonderfully in the market and the PT6 family is dominant,” he said.
In 2005, Pratt & Whitney Canada launched a new centerline engine in the 1,000-shp class, the PW210, for the Sikorsky S-76D. The engine uses technology from the PW600 engine family core, adapted to the PW200 design, Fard said.