Pratt Predicts PW800’s Pure Power Roots Will Drive It to Success in Big Bizjets
A day after watching Pratt & Whitney’s PW1500G engines lifting Bombardier’s new CSeries airliner for its long-awaited first flight on September 16, Pratt & Whitney Canada president John Saabas told AIN that the new turbofan’s PurePower technology PW800 cousin will soon be delivering the same step change in operating efficiency and low noise to the business aviation sector. In an interview ahead of this week’s NBAA show, he revealed that the manufacturer intends to start ground testing a demonstrator example of the 12,000- to 18,000-pound thrust engine before the end of this year and to have it flying in 2014. “We want to be in the heavy business jet market and this will give us real data to show [prospective airframers],” he said.
After Cessna abandoned plans for the Citation Columbus aircraft, which would have been the PW800’s launch application, P&WC initially slowed the pace of development work while continuing core testing. “The next 24 months are going to be critical [for the PW800 program] in terms of execution,” said Saabas. “The market has spoken [of a need for a new engine in this class] and we need to be sure that we can meet their needs in terms of volume of production.”
Saabas claimed that the PW800 can match the improvements in bypass ratio and thermal performance now being delivered by the PW1500G and predicted that the new turbofan will make a step change in the bizav market. “It’s going to be one of those stories like the PT6,” he said, referring to the company’s 50-year-old turboprop engine, which now has more than 130 aircraft applications (see main story).
“With the PW800 we have a huge advantage in having the common core of the geared turbofan [the base technology for PurePower engines],” said Mike Perodeau, P&WC’s corporate aviation marketing vice president. “This removes a lot of risk and gives us a springboard. We believe there are opportunities in the heavy iron world and we’re not new to this since the PW300 already powers the [Dassault] Falcon 7X and the PW308 is on the Falcon 2000 and the 2000LXS.”
The 4,700- to 7,000-pound-thrust PW300 series turbofans have remained in demand with new applications including the improved version of the Citation Sovereign and Bombardier’s new Learjet 85. To improve performance, P&WC introduced two stages of variable inlet guide vanes for the PW306C and PW307 engines, and the PW307 also features the latest Talon II combustor, which reduces nitrous oxide emissions. These improvements also feature in the PW308C, which powers both the Falcon 2000S and 2000LXS.
“These engines are delivering high performance, low fuel burn, low emissions and improved maintenance intervals, which keeps the whole operating experience predictable,” said Perodeau. “This makes the engines very suitable for high utilization operators like fractional ownership [providers].”
Perodeau acknowledged that market conditions have not been quite as rosy of late for the PW500 family in the light- to medium-sized jet sector, which took a hard hit in the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis. Nonetheless, as with the smaller PW600 turbofan powering light jets like the Embraer Phenom 100, he explained that both families feature the latest performance improvements for their thrust class and that the company remains hopeful that these market segments will bounce back.