Farnborough Air Show

P&WC testing engine for Phenom 100

 - November 16, 2006, 6:32 AM

Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) has started running the PW617F engine. This is the latest member of its 900- to 1,300-pound-thrust PW600 family and is set to power Embraer’s Phenom 100 very light jet. The new turbofan was run for the first time on June 29, P&WC president Alain Bellemare told Aviation International News exclusively on the eve of the Farnborough show, saying that the engine was “going well”.

During the first test run, the PW617F development engine achieved its full takeoff thrust of 1,695 pounds at the Canadian manufacturer’s facilities in Mississauga, Ontario. The engine, flat-rated at 1,615 pounds of takeoff thrust, is approximately a 10-percent scale of one of the current PW600 engine models, continuing the turbofan family’s demonstrated scaleable concept. It features a dual-channel full authority digital engine control.

The six- to eight-place Phenom 100 will be powered by two PW617F engines and is expected to enter service in mid-2008 following certification scheduled for late 2007. Another PW600 customer is Cessna, which uses the 1,350-pound-thrust PW615 on the Citation Mustang business jet, while for its Eclipse 500 very light jet Eclipse Aviation has selected the less-powerful 900-pound-thrust PW610F, for which P&WC expects certification “within weeks.”

According to P&WC, the PW600 “will change the way we design engines,” said Bellemare: “We keep saying that as we look at new products we must build on our past experience. The PW600 provides a thrust challenge with costs in mind from the start, but with additional requirements for both high performance and durability. So the biggest change is having to integrate maintainability, cost and performance simultaneously.”

P&WC also has introduced a moving assembly line for the PW600 that will eventually yield a new engine every eight hours. Bellemare believes significant experience gained with the new small engine can be applied to all its products, including greater involvement by its partners and ease of assembly.

Bellemare sees the potential for new knowledge to read across into other power plants. Technology and processes learned or developed can be applied to units that will equip such disparate business jet and helicopter programs as the Embraer Phenom 300 and 100, Raytheon Horizon 4000, Dassault Falcon 7X, the Bell 429 and Bell/Agusta 609 and Sikorsky S-76D.

Since stopping work early this year on an engine for Bombardier’s proposed C Series 110- to 130-passenger jetliner, for which P&WC claims to have developed “a technically very good solution,” the company has refocused resources as it continues to evolve the technology. Bellemare believes there is an industry requirement and said P&WC will enter that market. The company’s technology focus is on fuel efficiency, engine weight, noise and other environmental considerations. “It is clear something is going to happen in the next two-three years,” said the P&WC president.

P&WC expects to develop further new engine technology in-house at its Montreal headquarters as well as in conjunction with the U.S. parent group. The company is looking at all its current markets, as well as some specific identified opportunities to expand its family range.

It is particularly considering possible requirements and applications for a nominally 10,000-pound-thrust design that represents “a very large focus” in P&WC studies. Such a design could be tailored to provide aircraft manufacturers with thrust from 9,000 pounds to 14,000 pounds. “We are very serious about that,” he told AIN. “We have a good technical base from which to launch a design in that range.” The company has been talking “very seriously” with “a few key customers [so] we know we are moving in the right direction.”

Bellemare cites two relevant market segments–bottom-end regional jets and larger business-jets. He said the RJ opportunity would not mature in the short term, for which the best candidate is a corporate aircraft offering a range of 3,000 to 3,250 nm with capacity for eight to 14 occupants.

Nor is P&WC restricted to a 14,000-pound-thrust limit. Bellemare said the Bombardier C Series exercise had provided a chance for the company to develop a strategy to grow, which brought with it the opportunity to contribute to large-engine programs. Accordingly, the Canadian manufacturer is looking at requirements for engines of 14,000 to 21,000 pounds thrust “so that we will have the right engine for the 70- to 110-seat market.”

Since the U.S. parent company did not handle engines of less than 20,000 pound thrust, he saw an opportunity. “Around 15,000 to 20,000 pounds thrust is where the synergy works well between both companies,” he said. “There is a lot of work going on in that class which represents natural evolution with a lot of potential.”

With any requirements for new business jets, regional jets, or small single-aisle airliners, Bellemare sees “a huge opportunity to share knowledge,” although he acknowledged that the 15,000 to 25,000 pounds thrust range was a “blurred” area.

P&WC is enjoying a strong cycle of growth, claiming 25 percent gains “in all markets–helicopters, business aircraft, regional airliners–driven by overall very favourable economic trends.” The introduction of many new certified engine programs in the past five years reflects a combination of investment and an economic upswing, according to Bellemare.

He said the company would build around 2,750 engines in 2006, 25-percent up on last year’s 2,200 units (but lower than the 3,000-engine figure given by officials earlier). This strong recent growth also has brought the challenge of having to ensure a similar performance among P&WC’s suppliers through increased training and enhanced capacity.