As Gulfstream Aerospace celebrated the first delivery of its G500 ultra-long-range jet in late September, the event marked a major milestone for Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) as well: the entry into service of the first of a new engine family that has been in the works for most of the past two decades.
“This year is a very big year for us,” said Scott McElvaine, vice president of the PW800 series for P&WC (Booth 3238). “We are now officially in service with the PW800.”
Pratt & Whitney’s 15,144-pound-thrust PW814GA is the first to enter service, powering the G500. That milestone was the culmination of a test program that stretches back to the early 2000s. “This is a demonstration of our commitment to an engine this size,” said McElvaine.
Using the PurePower core developed for the PW1000, the PW800 family is designed to span a thrust class of 10,000 to 20,000 pounds, provide new levels of maintainability, and dramatically reduce emissions with the Talon X combustor.
Early on, the family was selected for a few airframe programs that did not come to fruition, including the Cessna Citation Columbus. But in 2014, Gulfstream selected the 814GA for its new G500 and the 15,680-pound-thrust 815GA for the G600. And this year, P&WC captured its next major program, the Dassault Falcon 6X. Dassault is opting for a 13,000- to 14,000-pounds-thrust variant, designated the 812D.
McElvaine stressed the extensive testing that went into bringing the first engine into service with a program that amassed 23,000 hours. Many new engine programs accrue 7,000 to 8,000 hours before entering service, “so 23,000 is a massive number,” he said. “We prefer it that way. We want to make sure we’ve got this right.”
Production Ramp Up
Even before Gulfstream selected the engine, P&WC had conducted the initial runs and flight tests. That work helped lead to Transport Canada type certification for the 814GA and 815GA in February 2015 and the first flight of the G500 in February of that year. FAA and EASA approvals for the engines followed in 2017.
The test program, however, has been only one piece of the preparations. “It’s not just engine technology, but also manufacturing and production,” he said. “We’re actively ramping up to get engines to our customers.”
P&WC began laying the groundwork for production in 2011 with the opening of a facility that McElvaine described as “the Disneyland of production,” incorporating a mixed model moving line that works on a just-in-time process. “Parts come in with the tools that are needed for that specific model at that specific moment at that specific station on the line,” he explained. “It’s very dynamic.”
The PW800 line has actually been in operation for some time. P&WC builds its development engines on the production line, enabling the engine maker to iron out any issues ahead of time and incorporate any necessary improvements. “We’ve been doing this already for a couple of years.”
In tandem with production, the support elements have been put in place. “We’ve taken a lot of pains on this program to make sure that this entry-into-service is as smooth as we can make it,” he said.
The “front line” is ready with more than 150 representatives trained for support. Backing them are a team of experts in areas such as logistics, engineering, and operations at the PurePower customer center that provides layered support. Furthering this is an enhanced digital engine service platform. In addition, P&WC has built a stockpile of spares and is now distributing them worldwide and has rental engines in place.
One of the most significant initiatives, he added, is the ESP PurePower program that was developed and evolved with considerable input from potential customers. “We’ve spent a lot of time working on this and a lot of time with customers,” McElvaine said, adding the result is a “white glove-type service” tailored to the owner and offering comprehensive coverage and a range of services.
However, he also stressed the emphasis is on availability, dispatch reliability, and keeping the engines out of the shops. The engines come “out of the box” with on-condition maintenance requirements, rather than fixed times between overhaul. Engines will average 10,000 hours between shop visits, he said, adding, “It is no longer about putting engines through the shop. It’s the availability of the aircraft.”
So far the efforts have been paying dividends. In testing, the engines showed “a degree of maturity well beyond what we’ve experienced with other programs, whether it is availability...or dispatch reliability,” he said. "That’s great news for us when we [consider] service.”