Pratt to Partner with Irkut on PW1000G-powered MC-21

 - December 21, 2009, 6:06 AM

Pratt & Whitney’s new PW1000G–formerly known as the Geared Turbofan–found its third application this month in the MC-21 narrowbody under development by Russia’s Irkut Corporation. For Irkut, Pratt’s willingness to spend the resources necessary to adapt a 30,000-pound-thrust version of the PW1000G to power a hypothetical Russian airliner lent some much desired credibility to the still relatively obscure program. But for Pratt & Whitney, the benefits of partnering with Irkut and Russia’s United Engine Building Corporation might not so clearly outweigh the risks–if the Hartford, Conn.-based engine maker didn’t firmly believe it will eventually need a platform in the aforementioned thrust range to power prospective re-engined versions of the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320. In that case, Pratt will have done well to give itself a head start in developing a bigger engine, even for a program as shadowy as the MC-21.

With this latest application, the PW1000G would power airplanes ranging in capacity from 76 to 210 passengers and cover thrust classes ranging from 13,000 pounds for the Mitsubishi MRJ70 to 30,000 pounds for the MC-21, the latter of which is scheduled for first flight in 2014 and first deliveries in 2016.

The PW1000G engine features a gear system that allows the engine’s fan to operate at a slower speed than the low-pressure compressor and turbine. Pratt promises that the combination of the gear system and all-new core will deliver double-digit improvements in fuel efficiency and environmental emissions and a 50-percent reduction in noise compared with the latest existing designs.

Pratt & Whitney expects core testing to continue through January and full engine testing to start next summer, giving the program ample time to support Irkut’s development timeline and, perhaps more vitally, those of Boeing and Airbus.