Pratt & Whitney insists its geared turbofan (GTF) engine will have “fuel burn parity” with the competing open-rotor designs being studied by CFM International, Rolls-Royce and Snecma, all of whom have rejected geared fans as the way forward. “We think that weight, drag and installation issues will take away much of the advantages of the open rotor concept,” said Robert Keady, senior vice president of sales and marketing for large commercial engines.
“The GTF is conceived as the appropriate solution for Airbus and Boeing,” he said, adding that “it is the best solution, even when considering the open rotor.” Keady believes that the early commitments to the GTF from Bombardier and Mitsubishi will convince airlines of its “transformational” qualities before Airbus and Boeing have to commit to the next-generation narrowbody replacement. We don’t think the airlines are pushing open rotor and contrarotating rotor concepts,” he said.
P&W remains the only engine manufacturer committed to the geared fan approach, and said it has spent a billion dollars over the last 20 years bringing the concept to a state of technology readiness. “We’re committed to this engine,” Keady confirmed. “There are advantages to being the only one. We can raise our hand and say we’ve got a product.”
International Aero Engines, in which Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce are equal partners, is still regarded as the “route to market” for future Airbus and Boeing narrowbodies, even though the two engine manufacturers are working on totally different concepts. “We’re in dialogue with them right now,” noted Keady. “Our task is to develop our technology, then bring it to IAE.”