P&W eclipses GE's once-dominant lead in 70-120-seat segment

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With its landmark selection by Embraer to power the second-generation E-Jet, Pratt & Whitney has nearly eliminated General Electric's once dominant position as a propulsion supplier in the large regional jet segment.

P&W will supply the PW1700G geared turbofan for the 76-seat E-175 and the PW1900G for the 90-120 seat E-190/E-195 family, with deliveries starting in late 2015, says Bob Saia, P&W vice president for the next-generation production family.

"We're very pleased - ecstatic," Saia says.

P&W's emotional response is not surprising. Prior to Embraer's selection, the geared turbofan had been selected by three new platforms and the Airbus A320neo, which is based on a platform that also uses a partially P&W-sourced engine.

But the geared turbofan had never before won a contract facing GE or its CFM International joint venture with Snecma as an incumbent supplier. Most notably, Boeing rejected P&W's attempts to even compete with the CFM Leap-1B for the 737 Max.

Now, the geared turbofan unseats GE as the incumbent supplier for the second-generation E-Jet, defeating a bid by GE for the eCore-derived NG34 powerplant.

Until Embraer's decision, GE had achieved a near-monopoly in the 70-120-seat engine market, having supplied the military-derived CF34 turbofan for the first-generation E-Jet, Bombardier CRJ700/900/1000 and the Comac ARJ21.

The only platforms to escape GE's grasp in the sector was the PowerJet SaM146-equipped Superjet by Sukhoi and the developmental Mitsubishi Regional Jet, which is powered by a geared turbofan variant called the PW1200G.

"Pratt's PurePower looks extremely promising, and has generated a very positive market response," says Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace consultant with the Teal Group. "As the MRJ powerplant, PurePower has clearly created a threat to Embraer, in much the same way that the PurePower/CSeries combination created a threat to Airbus. Airbus, of course, reacted by co-opting new engines. Embraer must do the same."

P&W will adapt the PW1700G from the MRJ's PW1200G and the PW1900G from the Bombardier CSeries' PW1500G, Saia says.

The PW1700G will feature the same 142cm (56in)-diameter fan of the MRJ engine, and the PW1900G will share the 185cm-diameter fan with the CSeries engine.