Pratt & Whitney Canada has launched an innovation team to "reinvent" the PT6 turboprop engine.
The team, which was assembled earlier this year, is tasked with driving improvements into the venerable turboprop, improving the business case and performance for the engine, says Maria Della Posta, senior vice-president of sales and marketing.
Della Posta says the company is already seeing new applications for the enhanced engine on an emerging group of existing and clean-sheet turboprop aircraft.
Flight Evening News revealed yesterday that Hawker Beechcraft is in the engine selection phase for a new clean-sheet turboprop that will compete directly with aircraft such as the Pilatus PC-12. Industry sources say the PT6 engine is in competition with an offering from GE Aviation, formerly Walter Engines.
Enhancements to the PT6 centre on the electronic controls of the engine, including more robust integration with the aircraft avionics to monitor the health of the powerplant, as well as improving the fuel burn.
Mike Perodeau, vice-president corporate aviation and military engines, says the turboprop market is very price sensitive, and any new technology must balance business and technology considerations.
"You've got to find a way to balance adding technologies while keeping the cost under control," says Perodeau.
The PT6, a 50-year-old platform, has benefited from periodic technology insertions the company says has provided four times more power, a 40% better power to weight ratio and 20% lower specific fuel consumption.
Additionally, Della Costa forecasts P&WC will deliver between 2,800 and 3,000 engines in 2010, down from 3,144 delivered in 2009 and 4,000 in 2008, as the industry continues to react to significant declines in near-term demand.
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