Embraer Turns True Believer in Pratt’s GTF

 - January 14, 2013, 9:55 AM
The Pratt & Whitney PW1000G demonstrator takes flight on the engine company’s Boeing 747SP test bed. The PurePower series has now won a place on five companies’ new aircraft programs. (Photo: Pratt & Whitney)

In a widely unexpected move, Embraer has switched partnership alliances from GE to Pratt & Whitney with its choice of the Geared Turbofan to power the next generation of E-Jets. The decision, announced last Tuesday, gives Pratt & Whitney its fifth application for the engine line also known as the PurePower PW1000G, and leaves Boeing as the last of the four major Western airframe manufacturers not to have adopted the design.

The Embraer win perhaps represents one of Pratt’s most satisfying, particularly given the skepticism about the engine expressed publicly by the Brazilian company’s CEO, Frederico Curado. As testing proved the GTF’s performance and reliability specifications, however, Pratt & Whitney finally earned Curado’s confidence, albeit somewhat later than that of many other OEM helmsmen.

Speaking with AIN on the day of the announcement, Embraer commercial aircraft president Paulo Cesar de Souza a Silva explained that the Pratt & Whitney product offering most closely matched what its customers wanted in terms of performance. “As people say they’re shocked that Pratt won, I just think the geared architecture had that leverage that Embraer valued,” concluded Pratt & Whitney vice president of new-generation products Bob Saia.

Scheduled for entry into service in 2018, the new airplanes would also feature an entirely new wing design, full fly-by-wire flight controls, a new interior and various other new or modified systems. Of course, most of the “double-digit” improvement in operating cost would come from the pair of new engines, which would range in thrust from 15,000 pounds to 22,000 pounds.

Silva wouldn’t specify the exact amount of fuel burn improvement expected, however, nor would he commit to any new range estimates. The size of the new airplanes, while still under study, will likely not deviate much from the current generation, he added. Although a completely new design, the larger wings destined for the new airplane will remain mostly metallic, said Silva, and the landing gear would need to accommodate the larger size of the engines, particularly the one for the E190 and E195.

The design of the two engines, designated the PW1700G and PW1900G, will closely resemble those already under development for the Mitsubishi MRJ and the Bombardier CSeries. The PW1700, with a 56-inch-diameter fan, would use the same architecture as that found in the MRJ’s PW1217G, said Saia, while the PW1900, with a 73-inch fan, would replicate the CSeries’ PW1524G.