Pratt & Whitney today announced -- sort of -- a new delay for the Irkut MS-21 narrowbody programme.
Irkut has always said first flight of the 150-210-seat MS-21 would occur sometime in 2014. The timeframe was updated four months ago to "late-2014", as my colleague Ghim-Lay Yeo quoted Irkut president Alexey Federov at the Singapore air show.
P&W is the engine supplier for the MS-21. Irkut selected the PW1400G geared turbofan to power the MS-21 in April 2010. Today, Irkut and P&W finalized the agreement to offer the PW1400G, seemingly just a formality.
P&W's press release today announcing the agreement could have easily been over-looked, except for this sentence buried in the second paragraph: " ... first flight of the PurePower PW1400G engined aircraft [is] planned for 2015 and entry into service in 2017".
We asked P&W about the 2015 timing for first flight. After checking with its internal programme office, P&W confirmed the new date is accurate. First flight is not scheduled until 2015 because first engine to test is not scheduled until 2014, P&W adds.
So now we know. MS-21 customers -- all seven of you with 206 combined orders-- please take note: First flight is now sometime in 2015, says P&W.
Pratt & Whitney allowed a group of reporters on board the 747SP flying testbed today at Bradley airport near Hartford, Connecticut. Two days ago, the former Korean Air airliner now owned by P&W completed the first flight of the PW1217G, the engine designed to power the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ). It's another step towards the introduction of a new kind of engine featuring a new kind of propulsion technology -- a 113kg (250lb) gear that decouples the speeds of the fan and low pressure compressor. If Bombardier's schedule holds, a different version of the geared turbofan will fly for the first time aboard the CSeries by the end of this year.
Pratt & Whitney Media Day is this week, which is a perfect excuse to post this excellent BBC documentary of Rolls-Royce. (Editor: Eh?) Bear with me, please.
We are not suggesting it's appropriate only due to the fact we can find no comparable documentaries on Pratt & Whitney, and not even because we are enthralled by such a revealing look inside the typically buttoned-up on Rolls-Royce (motto: "No comment. Full-stop. Forever.")
It actually is a timely peek inside Rolls-Royce on the eve of a Pratt & Whitney media day, where surely a major theme of press conferences and interviews will be the newly-sealed long-term relationship between these propulsion giants on narrowbody turbofans.
If you recall, last October Pratt & Whitney agreed to buy Rolls-Royce's stake in the International Aero Engines (IAE) consortium, which also includes MTU and Japanese Aero Engines Corp, producing V2500s for Airbus A320s. At the same time, Rolls-Royce formed a new joint venture with Pratt & Whitney to challenge another powerful joint venture -- the General Electric-Safran partnership in CFM International -- for the next-generation single-aisle turbofan market.
Today, perhaps more than ever, the future of Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce are tied closely together.
All that said, this documentary is so good any old excuse would do. Enjoy!
Japan Airlines, second customer for the 787, will contractually take delivery of its first 787 on March 25 before a flyaway departure to Tokyo the following day. The final regulatory hurdle before delivery was cleared earlier this week when the Federal Aviation Administration gave final approvals to both the original Block 4 and PIP1 GEnx-1B engines. The two GEnx configurations will be interspersed among the early GE-powered 787 deliveries.
There are strong indications that JAL will not take delivery of not one, but two 787s on Sunday, the program's first dual delivery. Delivery of Airplane 23 (JA822J) is firm at this point, while Airplane 33 (JA825J) may be slated for a late afternoon Monday flyaway as well, say program sources.
I'll be traveling to Seattle late Sunday for the delivery ceremonies and JAL interior unveiling on Monday.
Pratt & Whitney PW1500 certification trials
The PW1524G, Bombardier's CSeries CS100 engine, has begun major FAA certification trials with icing runs at the engine-maker Manitoba, Canada facility. Certification tests official began in mid-January with low pressure turbine stress tests. The engine has undergone more than 1,350h of full testing and nearly 250h under the wing of the company's Boeing 747SP test bed. As of last week, P&W had completed 2000h split between the PW1500G and MRJ's PW1200G engines covering more than 5,000 cycles.
Trent 1000 reliability tops 99.9%
Five months after its introduction with All Nippon Airways, the Trent 1000 engine has topped a dispatch reliability of 99.9%, says Rolls-Royce. The engine-maker notes it is the best introduction of a new RR engine, which has flown more than 4,000h since its late October service entry.
SCOTTSDALE -- A busy first day at ISTAT is currently in the book and we had an opportunity to sit down with Air Lease CEO Steven Udvar-Hazy, who weighed in on a variety of topics. For a year-by-year comparison, make sure to re-readour interview with Udvar-Hazy from ISTAT 2011.
Air Lease Corp chief executive Steven Udvar-Hazy, a vocal advocate for Boeing's now-shelved New Small Airplane concept, says the airframer's strategy to develop the CFM International Leap-1B-powered 737 Max is intended as a bridge to a clean sheet design arriving in the middle of the next decade and "not a long-term solution".
A fierce battle is brewing between GE, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney to supply as many as 3,000 engines to power the re-vamped Embraer E-Jet family.
Steven Udvar-Hazy, Air Lease Corp chief executive describes the three-way contest as "a real dogfight". He anticipates as many as 3,000 engines could be at stake through a sole-source contract to power the Embraer 198, the moniker given to the conceptual aircraft by ALC.
Lufthansa and Air Lease Corp (ALC) are vying for launch customer status on Boeing's proposed stretched 787-10X.
If Boeing moves ahead to "launch the airplane, we could be a definitive launch customer for the -10, in tandem with [ordering] some -9s. So that's in the oven," says Steven Udvar-Hazy, chief executive of ALC.
The existence of a 2011 request for proposal to GE, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney has now been officially confirmed, as Rolls and P&W have shared preliminary details of its planned 90,000 to 100,000lb thrust class engines to power Boeing's 777X concept.
General Electric, which is the exclusive engine supplier on the 777-300ER, -200LR and freighter, is offering the GE9X for Boeing's conceptual family.
This morning, Rolls detailed its conceptual engine, which it has dubbed the RB3025, exclusively to FlightBlogger and Flightglobal, which it touts will achieve better than 10% improvement in fuel burn against today's GE90-115B engine that powers the 777-300ER, and 15% better than the 777-200ER's Trent 800.
Rated at 99,500lbs with a 337cm (132.5in) fan for the baseline 407-seat 777-9X, giving the RB3025 a bypass ratio of 12:1.
The engine-maker says the current concept provides a low specific thrust and "excellent" propulsive efficiency, along with a 62:1 overall pressure ratio, which, if achieved, would be the highest OPR achieved in a commercial turbofan engine.
The engine builds off of the Trent 1000 and XWB engines, but Nuttall says the RB3025 is derived around its Advanced3 environmentally friendly engine (EFE) technology development programme, which includes a Trent 1000-derived core, lean-burn combustor, composite fan and advanced materials in the high pressure elements of the core.
Additionally, Pratt & Whitney also confirmed it, too, is offering a geared 100,000lb thrust class engine for the 777X in response to Boeing's information request:
Citing an excess of 6,000h and 80,000 cycles on its fan drive gear system (FDGS), P&W says its testing has "validated our analytical prediction that this engine architecture would be suitable to thrusts up to 100,000 pounds."
As the engine-maker "looks ahead to powering future wide-body applications" it plans to "scale the Geared Turbofan architecture to the required thrust levels".
While GE has not confirmed the details of its GE9X offering, the 777's incumbent has begun to begun to firm its own conceptual specifications to power the 777X, say those directly familiar with the engine-maker's planning.
Compared to the 115,000lb-thrust GE90-115B that powers the 777-300ER, the lower thrust 99,500lb and derated-88,000lb GE9X for the 777-9X and -8X, respectively, are enabled by the larger, higher-lift and comparatively lighter composite wing. The eCore-inspired engine would also feature a GEnx-style composite fan casing and third-generation Twin Annular Premixing Swirler (TAPS) Combustor, dubbed TAPS III, say those familiar with the engine maker's planning.
The 325cm (128in) diameter GE9X engine is believed to tout an approximately 10:1 bypass ratio, 60:1 overall pressure ratio and 27:1 high pressure compressor ratio, compared to the 42:1 and 23:1 pressure ratios, respectively, on today's GE90-115B.
Boeing says it's far too soon to say if one or more engine choices would be available on the 777X, as it has yet to be officially launched, but it appears that both Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney are readying for a significant battle with GE to power the next-generation 777.
Part Two in a series on the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop. Read Part One.
BOULDER CITY -- Journalists are advised never to get emotionally entangled in a story, and certainly not physically. Though this assignment found your correspondent unavoidably invested.
I'm about to get thrown out of a perfectly good aircraft with five other people.
"Why gamble with your money when you can gamble with your life???" asks Skydive Las Vegas, with two extra question marks added for emphasis.
Based at Boulder City Airport southeast of The Strip, and just south of Lake Mead, Skydive Las Vegas has been asking that provocative question of its customers since 1993.
When you think of business aviation, red carpets, plush leather cabins and twin turbofans tend to come to mind. Now picture a Pacific Aerospace P-750 XSTOL, a single-engine Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34A-powered turboprop with bench seating and bare metal floors.
Quantifying the impact of business aviation on the economy is often a difficult and abstract task. Despite being one of the lesser-seen faces of business aviation, the skydiving operations at SLV and its single aircraft and its single engine directly support more than two dozen jobs.
Admittedly, there's not a lot of sex appeal in a half-century old engine design, just a whirring certainty for SLV, which can fly as many four flights an hour; each climbing to 15,000ft, and dropping as many as 16 tandem skydivers at a time.
The aircraft's thick camber wing and its 750hp (560kW) engine, can carry more than 4,000lbs, a payload in excess of the P-750's own empty weight, just 3,100lbs.
Today, I'm strapped to Kelly Corcoran for our tandem jump, along with five of SLV's professional skydivers for some special formation falling.
Our walk to the aircraft is a euphemism uncomfortably referred to at SLV as the 'the green mile walk', a tongue-in-cheek way of disarming, or in some cases arming, a person's concerns about free falling.
After its human payload is headed for Earth, it's a race to the ground. A 3,000fpm descent puts the PT6-powered prop back on the ground before the last jumper's heels hit dirt on the edge of the airport.
The P-750 and its PT6 engine, says SLV owner and manager Brent Buckner, was a natural choice for the job, as the New Zealand-built aircraft is custom designed for skydiving, equipped with a factory-fitted aft door closing mechanism, eliminating the need for an extra crew member to fly along to close the door after jumpers have departed.
"This was the first airplane designed from the ground up for skydiving," says Buckner. "Every other jump airplane that exists today is a modification, it's been modified and changed to accommodate skydiving and the mission.
"This one was designed with skydiving in mind, everything from the performance aspects of it to the internal construction to the specially designed jump door. This is the only aircraft that comes out of the factory skydive ready anywhere in the world."
Separated by nearly 5,900nm, just getting the P-750 from the factory in Hamilton, New Zealand to Boulder City Airport was a saga in itself. The aircraft was fitted with FAA-approved cabin fuel tanks for its island-hopping delivery, raising the gross weight of the aircraft to 10,000lbs, providing a sense of the carrying capacity of aircraft's structure.
The P-750 replaced its PT6-114A-powered Cessna Caravan as its lead aircraft. While the company keeps a 1966 Cessna 182J as a backup, the P-750 is SLV's workhorse, providing around 50% less maintenance and a higher time between overhaul than the Caravan, 3,600h compared to 4,000h.
Ahead of the 2011 National Business Aviation Association conference in Las Vegas, which begins on Sunday, Pratt & Whitney Canada invited me to take a closer look at the Pacific Aerospace P-750 XSTOL and the engine that powers it, the PT6A.
The XSTOL, which stands for extreme short take off and landing, is a designation given by the New Zealand-based airframer when an aircraft can take-off with a payload in excess of its empty weight in under 800ft. At its core, the P-750's missions include a 4,000lb payload on short field takeoff capability on semi-prepared runways, aerial survey, crop dusting, fire fighting or carrying up to 17 skydivers to dump at altitude. We'll talk about that last mission a bit more later on.
That performance is due, in part, to the Cresco's thick wing and a span of 42ft (12.8m), 305sq ft (28.34 sq m) wing area and pronounced outboard dihedral. The design of the P-750 was derived by combining the engine and wings of the older Pacific Aerospace Cresco crop duster with a new large fuselage design and modified empennage. The type made its first flight in 2001 and was certified in 2004.
The other part is the 750hp (560kW) PT6A-34 engine selected by Pacific to power the P-750, which is significant for an aircraft whose empty weight is only 3,100lbs.
Pratt & Whitney Canada started mass production of the PT6 in 1963, and is arguably aviation's most resilient turbine engine design, evolving incrementally over time with each new application. The P-750 is one of 130 different aircraft that have been powered by the PT6.
The engine's first application, the Beechcraft Model 18, first flew in May 1961 and was intended as a replacement of the P&W Wasp radial engine. To date, PWC has delivered 46,000 PT6 engines, 26,000 of which are still flying today having accumulated 350 million hours in service.
With its 1961 first flight, the PT6 architecture is only eight years shy of having as many years removed from its first flight, as its own first flight was from Orville & Wilbur at Kitty Hawk.
The engine, which can provide power from 500shp up to 2,000shp - depending on the application - and is principally made up of three major components, a gas generator comprising the compressor and combustor, the power section made up of the turbine which is spun by the combusted fuel and air, and a gearbox that connects directly to a propeller or rotor.
Those three elements have been scaled and customized over the years to create a modular system that can be tailored depending on the application.
"We can mix and match these to get better thermal ratings, better flat ratings, make the PT6 a sort of tailored engine to the aircraft these people are trying to make," said John Saabas, PWC President in a Friday interview. "When you're a small aircraft maker we can give you choice. We can give you a power range, thermal range, mechanical range.
"Socatas need lots of thermal power because they want to go fast at altitude, not so much mechanical power. King Airs want to take off with heavy loads and don't go quite as fast need more mechanical power. So a different gear box for those two even those it may be the same basic engine behind it. It just depends on how its rated."
"From a first-cost perspective, we also bring an advantage over some other technologies, some of the other choices that are out there," he says, citing higher SFC but a lower acquisition cost of the PT6 than the GE T700 that powers civilian and military rotorcraft.
For Saabas the extended investment over decades and pressure to deliver another another major leap in fuel burn improvement is tempered by the cost competitiveness and market establishment of the existing engine.
To look at the engine through Red-Blue, London School of Economics academic Dr. Theodore Piepenbrock's work on business evolution, the PT6 serves as a prime example of incremental, scalable development that has benefitted from continuous product evolution to drive out cost and improve efficiency and fuel performance over its extended lifetime.
Though even with its modular design, Saabas cautions that the PT6 is not focused as an off-the-shelf engine as it appears: "You don't want to get to a point where you're a commodity, we're always trying to decomoditize ourselves."
Though he acknowledges, the mix-and-match capability of the PT6 allows airframers small and large flexibility, but the scale of the complexity is the differentiator from project to project.
"There are some applications that some people want to take a [PT6A-42] and they want to adapt it, but we're developing for the Eurocopter, right now, the [PT6C-67E] which is a brand new version of the PT6 for the EC175, we're putting a FADEC on to that."
Overall, Saabas attributes the success of the platform to its overall reliability, achieving an in-flight shutdown rate of two per every million flight hours. Though, he also acknowledges market pressures by relative new-comers in the market, General Electric and its M601 and H-80 engine, which grew out of its 2008 Walter Aircraft Engines acquisition.
The engine, says PWC, has improved in line with the industry standard, delivering an extra percent of specific fuel consumption improvement every year, translating into a 20% improvement over the last two decades.
In a 2010 interview, Saabas said its plans for the introduction of new technologies into the PT6 remained a higher priority that its plans for a replacement, calling it an "advanced design study", though he says in Friday's interview that the PT6 replacement will evolve from the PT6 itself: "We're doing a couple of neat technologies to see if we can't improve the efficiency of the PT6 by double digits, and some of them use PT6 architectures, some don't. So let's call them a general aviation engine replacement if you will."
Yet Saabas, who has been PWC's president since 2009, says the company has stuck with the PT6 for as long as it has because there have been "a lot of generations of leaders at Pratt Canada who have been customer focused and out there trying to adapt the product to different marketplaces and aggressively looking for these applications for the engine and spending the money to develop it with the confidence that there was a marketplace."
When I sat down to think about the remaining thirteen and a half weeks of 2010, it became immediately apparent how pivotal this time will be for the future of commercial and business aviation. Decisions from Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, Bombardier and Gulfstream will shape the industry in 2011 and 2012 in the near term, but these same decisions could guide commercial and business aerospace for the next decade to come.
The PW1000G engine was shipped by air freight from Toulouse, arriving back in the United States where P&W will inspect the engine and analyze its findings from the flight test campaign.
The engine maker is set to begin detailed design of the PW1217G (17,000 lbs-thrust) and PW1524G (24,000 lbs-thrust) powerplants for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet and Bombardier CSeries, respectively. Ground testing of the PW1217G is planned for mid-2010 with certification in late 2011. Both aircraft are scheduled to enter service in 2013.
Pratt & Whitney's new commercial engine is widely believed to be a front-running candidate to re-engine the 737 and A320 narrowbody aircraft in the near term. Airbus has said previously that it would require 24-30 months to re-engine the A320.
The PW1000G engine uses a gearbox to optimize the large diameter fan and engine core to improve the fuel burn. Pratt & Whitney hopes to deliver a 12-15% improvement in specific fuel consumption for airline operators. Photos courtesy Pratt & Whitney