Pratt Canada launches new regional turboprop

 - July 18, 2010, 11:17 AM

Pratt & Whitney Canada has launched an all-new turboprop engine for regional aircraft to replace the 1,800- to 5,000-shp PW100 series. It expects to run the core demonstrator in the second half of next year.

P&WC president John Saabas said the new engine will be “at least” 10 percent more fuel efficient than the PW100 series, which he claims is “still the most economical turboprop in its class.” There is, however, a demand for a “double-digit” fuel burn improvement, which can be met, he said, by using technology developed for the company’s latest small turbofans, in particular the new PW1000G geared turbofan powering the Mitsubishi MRJ and Bombardier C Series regional jets.

The company said it has completed the advanced study phase and is ready to launch the demonstrator program. It has “still to decide” on a date for service entry, however, and remains vague as to the likely applications. “What we do know is that there will always be a demand for fuel-efficient turboprops in the high-utilization class working 400- to 500-nautical-mile sectors,” Saabas said. “It is the best engine for the job and there are many players out there.” The current Bombardier Dash 8-400 and ATR 42/72 continue to be developed and new designs are in the cards for emerging markets in China and India, he said.

The first engine in the PW100 series–the 1,787-shp PW120–entered service in 1984, powering the ATR 42. Today’s PW150A powering the Bombardier Q400 produces 5,071 shp. Versions of the engine power aircraft in service with 365 operators in 124 countries; more than 6,000 have been produced and have accumulated more than 100 million flying hours.

The powerplant resulting from the demonstrator engine will be allied to new propeller technology under development by Pratt & Whitney Canada’s fellow company in the United Technologies group, Hamilton Sundstrand. Saabas said the new engine will not be aimed at increasing the cruising speed of regional turboprops, typically 360 knots. “In this sector, our customers are more interested in fuel economy,” he said. “We will leverage our more than 200 million hours of turboprop experience to develop the most advanced engine for this important market segment.” 

Details of the turbo-mechanical features of the new engine are not being released. Saabas said only that the “best technology available” would be used to reduce weight and increase pressure ratio and, hence, core efficiency. The PW118-127 models featured two-spool, two-stage centrifugal high-pressure compressors, the more powerful PW150 moving to a three-stage axial design. Both had single-stage low and high-pressure turbines.

The new engine will benefit, said Saabas, from the same three-dimensional airflow visualization technology used for development of the PW1000G and other new turbofans. The emphasis will also be on reducing ownership costs through increased component lifetime and longer maintenance intervals. Saabas pointed out, however, that it would be “difficult” to improve on the reliability of the PW100, currently claimed to be 99.97 percent.