Gamechanger: How Pratt & Whitney Transformed Itself To Lead A Revolution In Jet Propulsion

Discussion in 'Military Aviation' started by Maravan, Jan 25, 2016.

  1. Maravan

    Maravan New Member

    Jan 21, 2016
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    On Wednesday, Airbus delivered the first aircraft in its upgraded family of A320neo narrow body jetliners to Lufthansa. News that a European aircraft maker is delivering planes to a German carrier might not sound like a breakthrough for American technology, but in this case it is. That’s because the “neo” designation of the Airbus family stands for “new engine option,” and the planes Lufthansa has bought will be equipped with a revolutionary “geared turbofan” engine made by United Technologies unit Pratt & Whitney.

    Pratt has spent $10 billion and 20 years developing the geared turbofan, which it is marketing in multiple variants as the PurePower family of high-bypass engines. To say the PW1100G engines built specially for the A320neo are a breakthrough is a bit of an understatement. The engines will reduce fuel consumption 15%, extending the plane’s range by 500 nautical miles. They will reduce environmental emissions by 50%. They will reduce noise by 75%. And that’s just for starters – the fuel savings will grow to 20% by 2020 as the engine technology is refined, and Airbus is projecting major savings on aircraft maintenance.

    The key to the gains is a reduction gearbox built into the engine that allows each of its sections to spin at optimum speed. It’s an idea that has been around for some time, but was devilishly difficult to develop into the kind of engines a next-generation narrow body required. The clearest indication Pratt & Whitney has succeeded is that 7,000 of the engines have been ordered before the first commercial flight even occurred. Most of the aircraft makers adopting Pratt’s PurePower line plan to make it the sole propulsion offering on their new jets.

    Airbus will offer two options on the neo — including an upgraded conventional turbofan from GE — but there isn’t any doubt which engine will be quieter, more fuel efficient, or more environmentally friendly. It will be Pratt’s geared turbofan, which has already disrupted business as usual in the short-to-medium haul segment of the market to such a degree that every aircraft and engine maker has been forced to respond with new product offerings. Unfortunately for Pratt’s competitors, there is no way they can catch up with the Connecticut-based company’s lead in new technology anytime soon — which is one reason why Pratt expects engine production to double through the end of the decade.

    Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower family of geared turbofan engines is revolutionizing jet propulsion, and in the process disrupting business as usual in the commercial transport sector. But getting to this point required Pratt to transform its business culture, including relying much more heavily on a rigorously managed supply chain. (Retrieved from United Technologies)

    The other reason is the F135 engines it is building for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter, a program that will deliver over 3,000 stealthy tactical aircraft to three U.S. military services and a dozen overseas allies. That program is ramping up too as the price of engines and airframes falls in each successive production lot, headed toward a price-tag per plane similar to that of the Cold War fighters the F-35 will replace. Pratt is the exclusive supplier of engines for the F-35, which means both the military and commercial parts of its business are looking bullish for decades to come (much of its profits come from the aftermarket, supporting fielded engines during multi-decade service lives).

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