P&W could not make case for Boeing 777X programme

Palm Beach
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Providing an engine for Boeing's 777X programme did not make a "good business case" for engine provider Pratt & Whitney (P&W), executives say.

"We looked at it and we just didn't see how we could make a good business case out of that opportunity at the time," says Todd Kallman, president of commercial engines at East Hartford, Connecticut-based P&W, at a press event in Palm Beach on 11 April.

Boeing selected the General Electric GE9X for its 777X programme in March, after also considering Rolls-Royce RB3025 turbofan. P&W did not submit a bid for the programme.

The decision eliminates P&W as a supplier of engines for the next generation of widebody aircraft that are in development at both Airbus and Boeing. The in-development Airbus A350 will use Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines while Boeing's 787 comes with either General Electric GEnx-1B or Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.

One of the limitations of P&W's PW1000G geared turbofan engine family is its 3:1 ratio to power, which is less than that available on its competitors widebody turbofan engines.

The manufacturer does hold a 50% stake in Engine Alliance, which supplies the GP7200 engine for the Airbus A380.

"Our focus here has been the narrowbody," says Kallman. "Bring this technology, this new engine architecture to market [and] make sure we do it right."

The PW1000G family is the sole engine choice for the Bombardier CSeries, Embraer's next generation E-Jet and Mitsubishi Aircraft MRJ jet, and is one of two options available for the Airbus A320neo family.

"We continue to look down the road for when it might make sense to look at the widebody application as well," says Kallman. "Not that we don't think we can do it, we've just said from the very beginning we want to execute what's on our plate correctly and successfully."

Bob Saia, vice-president of next generation product family in P&W's commercial engine programmes, adds: "The technologies we're really trying to advance [is] this geared architecture. We're looking at trying to get higher gear ratios as well as we work [on] lighter weight materials, more capable aerodynamics, more thermo temperature capabilities and, whether its brand new single aisle airplane if that were to happen or a widebody application, we're ready."

The manufacturer was conducting due diligence on a new reduction gear with an at least 4:1 ratio to power for the next generation of aircraft, Saia told Flightglobal in March. This would be achieved with an all-moving planetary gear instead of the fixed five-gear star configuration in the PW1000G family.