Paris Air Show

P&W seeks PW6000 buyers

 - December 14, 2006, 8:35 AM

Pratt & Whitney is now having to consider what it can contribute to a new powerplant to be developed by its Pratt & Whitney Canada subsidiary for the proposed Bombardier C Series of small jetliners. It also is seeking new launch customers for its PW6000 engine on the Airbus A318 and is continuing to invest in new-technology developments for possible future applications, according to P&W president Louis Chenevert.

In an apparently recent development, P&WC was revealed here Sunday as the provider of a new engine for the C Series. Earlier this year, partnerships CFM International and International Aero Engines were unable to come to acceptable commercial and technical terms with Bombardier.

The P&WC selection appears to have occurred only on the eve of the show because just a few days earlier formal P&WC participation was understood to be limited to a derivative. “We’re trying to find a solution,” Chenevert told Aviation International News last week. “A clean-sheet design will not work, but we have a lot of technology available with which to help them.” On Sunday, P&WC president Alain Bellemare was unable to detail any participation by his Pratt parent beyond saying it would contribute. Nor was any information available from Bombardier.

Acknowledging that it “passed on the [Boeing] 787,” Chenevert denied that P&W is only number three in the engine market to General Electric and Rolls-Royce: “I disagree. Perhaps in our share of commercial engines business, but we have an installed base of 15,000 engines and the whole group is producing 2,000 a year. Our revenue in 2005 will be $9 billion.”

Chenevert explained that developing a 787 engine would have been too expensive: “The numbers were just too hard [and would have meant] several hundreds of millions of dollars in negative cash flow. We would not have broken even for a number of decades.” Nevertheless, P&W is staying in the new-engine business, with this year’s engineering and development budget 10 percent higher than in 2004.

The PW6000 was certificated in the U.S. late last year and is scheduled to receive formal European airworthiness approval in a few months’ time. P&W now is engaged in a campaign to find a launch customer, with some “good-value” carriers in prospect.

P&W also is developing new ideas for the single-aisle jetliner market. For example, it is working with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration on geared-fan technology that could be applied to meet emissions, fuel-burn, noise and thrust requirements. A prototype version of such an engine is scheduled to fly in 2008.

Chenevert said that such technology, which uses a low-speed spool to drive the fan, would be hard to retrofit to existing designs, but “very easy to introduce on new-architecture engines” that P&W could develop with others. “We have the capacity to go it alone, but our established philosophy is to consider a partnership, as we have done on the PW4000 and other engines.”

Powering the Next 737

He agreed that this work, and other activities such as research into new compressor, turbine and swept-fan technologies, could be applied to power future projects like a Boeing 737 replacement and a follow-on to the Airbus A320 family. Chenevert said that P&W has learned to develop technology in advance of requirements: “the Engine Alliance GP7000 engine [in which P&W partners General Electric] is a great example of having technology ready.” Others include the PW600 series now being applied to the new generation of very light executive jets such as the Cessna Citation Mustang and recently announced Embraer designs.

In demonstrating the breadth of P&W activity, Chenevert pointed to its valuable participation in maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) activities, which account for almost 60 percent of its business revenue. Growth in this area is not restricted to commercial engines but also encompasses the company’s military and small-engines businesses.

On the product-support front, P&W has developed a noise-reduction kit for the JT8D-209 series that will permit operators of McDonnell Douglas MD-80 jetliners to meet International Civil Aviation Organization Chapter 4 standards that come into force next January.

Other work includes moves to increase PW2000 and PW4000 time on wing, thus reducing total ownership costs. For example, on PW4000 fan blades a new thermal-barrier coating has been introduced to reduce metal temperatures typically by 50 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) and this technology could be applied elsewhere.