P&W to outsource more work on its geared turbofan

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Pratt & Whitney (P&W) plans to bring in partners to share as much as 49% of the cost of producing its next generation PurePower geared turbofan engine, with the same partners covering approximately 40% of the engineering and development costs for the shared work portions.

"We've signed up a number of partners so far - MTU is probably the biggest," says Greg Hayes, senior vice president and CFO of Pratt & Whitney parent company United Technologies. Hayes made the comments during a fourth quarter 2010 financial earnings call on 26 January. Flightglobal and ATI have previously reported that MTU has a 15% share in the engine, including the low pressure turbine module.

Hayes says "holding the line" on the targeted work share of 40-49% may be difficult.

"The [Airbus] A320neo was a huge win for Pratt & Whitney and it has really turned up the heat on partners to join [in the engine programme]", says Hayes. "We're not concerned about getting to 40-49%. Holding the line at 49% is probably more problematic."

"Obviously Japanese Aero Engine Corporation [JAEC] is out there as part of the IAE consortium," says Hayes. "We've had discussions with them about joining us." IAE, a joint venture between P&W, Rolls-Royce, MTU and JAEC, produces the V2500 engine for the A320 series, not including the A318.

Virgin America is the launch customer for the re-engined A320neo, and Indian carrier IndiGo has signed an MOU for up to 150 of the type. Neither carrier has revealed a preference for the geared turbofan engines or CFM Leap-X engines, the two options being offered by Airbus. The airframer plans to begin delivering the A320neo in 2016.

Pratt's PurePower geared turbofan is the sole engine choice for the Bombardier CSeries family, for which Bombardier has 90 orders to date. Prototype engines are already in ground testing, with first flights scheduled on the company's Boeing 747 testbed in June or July, says Hayes.

P&W originally had proposed offering an engine to Airbus through the IAE consortium, but the companies could not agree on the design philosophy and P&W entered the bidding process solo.

Hayes expects to see engine choices for the A320neo to become public in the second quarter or "certainly by the Paris air show" in June, and hints that there is much more action to come on orders.

"The key here is that we have to retain the discipline of the pricing," says Hayes. "When you have an engine that gets 15% better fuel burn and 50% lower noise and emissions, there's value to the customer. We just have to make sure we're going to get paid for that value as part of this."