Pratt’s PW1000G subject of Rolls lawsuit

 - October 1, 2010, 7:54 AM

Rolls-Royce in late August filed a complaint alleging infringement by United Technologies (UTC) of the patent for the Rolls-Royce swept fan blade–the same design, claims Rolls, that UTC subsidiary Pratt & Whitney used in its PW1000G PurePower geared turbofan for the Bombardier C Series and Mitsubishi MRJ. The complaint specifically identifies the fan stages on both the PW1000G and Engine Alliance GP7200 engine and alleges that a number of other UTC civil engines infringe on the Rolls-Royce patent. In a statement released last month, Rolls-Royce said it seeks unspecified damages and injunctions.

The UK company said it expects a jury to hear the case in the first half of next year in the Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

According to Rolls, the origins of the case date back to the late 1990s, when UTC unsuccessfully applied to the U.S. Patent Office to strike the patent in question from the registry.

Pratt & Whitney denied any wrongdoing in a written statement issued soon after the Rolls announcement. “Pratt & Whitney believes the named engines do not infringe the Rolls-Royce patent and further that the Rolls-Royce patent is invalid and unenforceable,” said the East Hartford, Conn.-based engine maker. “Pratt & Whitney believes the lawsuit lacks merit and will vigorously defend itself.”

Meanwhile, Pratt & Whitney has finished assembling its first PW1524G for the Bombardier C Series. The company held a so-called “last bolt” ceremony in late August at its Middletown Engine Center in Connecticut to commemorate the milestone. Pratt planned to deliver the engine to its West Palm Beach, Fla., facility last month to start testing.    

“Completion of the first PW1524G for testing is an important milestone for the C Series aircraft program,” said Benjamin Boehm, Bombardier’s vice president of commercial aircraft programs. “We have worked closely with Pratt & Whitney engineers over the past two years to optimize engine performance as we integrated this powerplant into our airplane design. We are pleased with the progress of the engine program to date and that Pratt & Whitney has completed first engine assembly on time.”

Pratt & Whitney plans to run a total of eight PW1500G test engines over the next 24 months. It expects to gain engine certification in 2012, the same year Bombardier plans first flight for the C Series. Schedules call for entry into service in 2013.
Bombardier has sold C Series aircraft to German flag carrier Deutsche Lufthansa, Lease Corporation International and Indianapolis-based Republic Airways.

Pratt & Whitney recently finished a 260-hour core testing regime for the PurePower engine. It has also performed critical module-level testing, including fan drive gear system trials with simulations of more than 60,000 takeoffs and landings. Finally, it has completed hundreds of hours of testing on the low- and high-pressure compressors, both of which met or exceeded efficiency and operability goals, according to the company.