Sales were all the rage in the new narrowbody turbofan market in 2011, but 2012 will be the year when warm and fuzzy promises have to be replaced by cold hard data of the certification kind.
Buoyed by a bevy of operating prototypes of its new PurePower geared turbofan engines, Pratt & Whitney ended the year with orders for 2,000 engines (orders and options) from 25 airlines and lessor customers, the majority of the orders coming at the Paris and Dubai air shows this year.
PurePower is the sole engine choice for Bombardier's CSeries, set for entry into service (EIS) in 2014, the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) - also expected to enter service in 2014 - and the geared turbofan as an option on the first Airbus A320neo models, slated for EIS in 2015.
While narrowbody engine competitor CFM International does not yet have a full-up operating prototype of its new Leap-X design, the company's reputation precedes it, as more than 8,000 commercial and military aircraft today are powered by the six varieties of its trademark CFM56 engines. The sales force at CFM had a banner year, taking the order toll for the Leap-X to 2,720 engines and more than $32 billion in expected revenue from applications on three airframes.
For Airbus, CFM has orders for 930 Leap-1A engines (465 aircraft) for the re-engined A320neo, slated for EIS in 2016. For Comac, the company has orders for 390 Leap-1C turbofans (195 aircraft) for the C919 airliner, set for EIS in 2016, while for the re-engined Boeing 737max, set for EIS in 2017, CFM has orders for 1,896 engines (948 aircraft), 300 firm. Southwest Airlines is the launch customer.
In 2012, the marketing promises will have to be replaced by hard performance numbers as the turbofans begin to run the certification gauntlet. With its first certification expected next year for Bombardier's CSeries, Pratt & Whitney's PW1500G series is the line leader for the new generation of engines, followed closely by the PW1200G for the MRJ.
The certification test programme for the PW1500G will include eight production engines and is slated to be completed in late 2012. P&W says the first three PW1524G engines - the version destined for the CSeries - are currently in the build process. PurePower engines will be built in the company's new Mirabel Aerospace Centre in Montreal, a facility that will begin assembling engines in the first quarter of 2012.
To date, P&W says it has conducted more than 1,250h and 2,800 cycles of full engine testing of the CSeries and MRJ engine types to date, with the PW1524G completing its first flight test programme in September after 25 flights and 115 flight hours on P&W's Boeing 747 testbed. A second PW1524G test campaign was to begin before the end of the year.
In 2012, P&W will begin an additional flight test campaign by April using its other Boeing 747 testbed carrying a PW1217G engine. The flight-test campaign follows a successful ground testing programme of 300h and 1,100 cycles for the PW1200G family.
First engine to test (FETT) for the PW1100G-JM (the "JM" signifies the participation of Japanese Aero Engines and MTU) engine for the Airbus A320neo will be completed by the end of 2012, says P&W.
CFM, with its first EIS not due until 2016 for the A320neo and Comac C919, has somewhat more development work to carry out before full engine testing. The company will be analysing results from two ground-run campaigns of its eCore engine core in 2012, while the joint venture between GE and Snecma will freeze the design for both the Leap-1A and Leap-1c by mid-year. A final eCore (eCore 3) will be complete next year and go into testing in late 2012 or early 2013, says CFM.