P&WC to take on Snecma powerplant

 - December 4, 2006, 1:36 PM

The news that Snecma is working on the new 8,500- to 10,000-pound thrust SM-X engine to power new large business jets and regional airliners hasn’t shaken Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC). Nor has last month’s suspension by Bombardier of the 110- to 135-seat C-Series twinjet program.

At face value, the SM-X is an attempt to plug a powerplant gap between P&WC’s PW300 and PW800 turbofan families. But according to Joe Torchetti, the Canadian firm’s international business development vice president, it has already been making plans to counter any such market threat. In the first instance, P&WC’s response could be to take the PW308 engine (which powers Raytheon’s new Hawker Horizon bizjet) up to a power rating of 12,000 pounds thrust and beyond. “And we are also looking at further new engines to match any new aircraft developments the OEMs might have in mind,” he told Aviation International News.

Torchetti insisted that the work P&WC has done since agreeing last June to develop a new 21,000-pound-thrust turbofan for the C-Series has not been wasted. P&WC will continue to work on the powerplant technology it had in mind on the firm assumption that eventually there will be a requirement for a new generation single-aisle airliner.

He confirmed that P&WC will also be glad to offer a new powerplant for any envisioned development of the Q400 twin turboprop that Bombardier may now develop. The company has been very encouraged by the sustained revival of turboprop-powered aircraft. “Airlines are now seeing that turboprops are the only economically viable alternative for short routes,” he said, arguing that high oil prices are here to stay and so are turboprops.

In this respect, the Asia/Pacific region has lately proved to be particularly fertile territory for turboprop transports, with Indian carriers such as Air Deccan, Kingfisher and Jet Airways all having opted for the Avions de Transport Regional ATR 72-500, which is powered by the PW127F engine. P&WC operators in this part of the world are supported by the manufacturer’s Singapore service center with a 100-strong staff, as well as by mobile repair teams who travel all over the region.

Torchetti confirmed that P&WC is  actively looking to establish more service centers in both India and China. The Indian facility could be operational within six to 12 months.

P&WC continues to busy itself in the business aviation market, and especially in the emerging very light jet segment. The PW615 turbofan for Cessna’s Mustang was certificated at the end of December and the PW610 variant should be approved for the rival Eclipse 500 jet by the end of March. The PW617 engine has been selected by Embraer for its new Phenom 100 VLJ, due to complete certification in 2008. Meanwhile, the larger PW307 engine is on track to enter service next year on Dassault’s new Falcon 7X trijet.

As it continues to with the PW800 technology demonstration program, P&WC is widening the environmental goals for the new-generation 10,000- to 20,000-pound-thrust powerplant family. In addition to offering lower noise, fuel consumption and nitrous oxide emissions, the company also intends that the so-called green engine will eliminate the use of harmful elements such as arsenic, cadmium and chrome. “The key is that we will have to strike the balance between cost and [environmental] benefit,” conceded Torchetti.

Finally, P&WC (Stand A909) even has its own stake in the star of Asian Aerospace 2006–the Airbus A380. With its UTC sibling Hamilton Sundstrand it developed the super-large airliner’s PW980 auxiliary power unit. Its Singapore service center is a center of excellence for APU repairs which could come in handy when Singapore Airlines begins A380 operations at the end of this year.