P&W pushes PW1000G as C919 second engine

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Pratt & Whitney CEO David Hess says his company is in "on-going discussions" with Chinese airframer Comac to offer the PW1000G as a second western engine option on the 156-seat C919, as well as other powerplants for the 70-seat ARJ21 and new clean-sheet designs.

"We've had discussions with them about all three," says Hess, whose comments came at the engine-maker's 30 March media day. Comac is "very excited about a geared turbofan, they know where we are in development, they've seen the engine. In fact, we've had Comac people down here at test stands".

Hess says the initial selection of the [CFM International] Leap-X1C engine for the C919 has not ruled out the PW1000G: "Certainly their initial selection was Leap-X, they'll start a flight test programme with Leap-X, but they seem to be very interested in flying the next generation product family. Either on derivatives of the C919, the ARJ21 - they are studying possible applications for ARJ21 - and for and certainly clean sheet paper airplanes. They're very excited about it, we've got a good relationship with the Chinese."

The opportunity to offer a second engine option on the C919, which competes directly with the A320 and 737-800, would allow the Chinese to match European offering of next generation engines on its A320neo, which are both due for entry into service in 2016.

Additionally, Hess is encouraged by the newly formed partnership between Bombardier and Comac, potentially opening the door to offering the PW1000G on the C919 as it seeks to develop further commonality with Bombardier's CSeries, also powered by a variant of the geared turbofan.

The PW1524G, set to fly on Bombardier's CS100 in 2012 is currently in ground testing at P&W's West Palm Beach, Florida and Manitoba, Canada test facilities.

"We're not privy to the conversations between Comac and Bombardier, but clearly there could be opportunity for collaboration on all the platforms," says Hess. "I think it's a great idea, I think it will certainly give Bombardier access to the Chinese marketplace, and maybe some Chinese capital, and vice versa it will give the Chinese access to Bombardier's great technical and development capabilities.

For smaller aircraft, P&W currently offers the PW1200G for the 70 to 90-seat Mitsubishi Regional Jet, but either that engine or the PW800, a non-geared architecture with the PW1000G's core, would likely be available for the ARJ21, which P&W says would offer a 10% specific fuel consumption improvement over the General Electric CF34-10A engines currently offered on the Chinese regional jet.

"We feel pretty good that we're going to have good opportunities for Pratt in China going forward," he adds.