P&W to make geared turbofan the building block for all new engines

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Geared turbofan (GTF) technology will be inserted into all new large engines developed by Pratt & Whitney, including designs for new types of widebody aircraft.

Alan Epstein, P&W's vice-president of technology and environment, says the ultra-high bypass engine designed for the Bombardier CSeries and the Mitsubishi Regional Jet will be the basic building block for all engines with more power than 10,000lb (45kN). "Oh, yes. Absolutely," he says.

The introduction of GTF for P&W is comparable to Rolls-Royce's decision decades ago to build a three-spool engine, which is now replicated in all of the latter manufacturer's engine products, Epstein says.

P&W is designing two sizes of GTF for Bombardier and Mitsubishi, ranging from 18,000-23,000lb thrust. But the gear technology can scale to larger aircraft, including widebodies, and in some cases offers greater potential for higher efficiency, he says.

Epstein does not specify how a GTF engine designed for a widebody would manage ground clearance issues caused by a wider-diameter fan. However, Epstein says the technical problems can be overcome.

Airbus is now designing the A350 XWB family to appear after 2013. The A350-1000 variant may force Boeing to refresh the 777 or design an all-new widebody. Epstein says that any new P&W engine developed for a widebody application will feature GTF technology.

For the moment, however, P&W is focused on the next generation of narrowbody aircraft to be launched by either Airbus or Boeing from 2015-20.

The GTF demonstrator engine is expected to enter flight testing in mid-July aboard P&W's Boeing 747SP testbed. The aircraft should compile about 40-50h of flight time. The demonstrator will then be flown to Toulouse in mid-September for testing on an Airbus aircraft.