P&WC plots new engine core for super-medium helo, ‘evolved’ King Air market

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On the eve of the Heli-Expo convention, Pratt & Whitney Canada has revealed plans to launch a new turboshaft engine in the 2,000shp (1,490kW)-range aimed initially at the top end of the new super-medium helicopter segment, and with potential for a turboprop conversion to support the corporate utility aircraft market.

The next-generation 2,000shp engine now in the preliminary design stage targets a future helicopter sized in the 9,070kg (20,000lb)-class, says Richard Dussault, P&WC vice president of marketing.

That places the new helicopter in the gap between the 7t-8t super-mediums, such as the AgustaWestland AW189, Bell Helicopter 525 Relentless and Eurocopter 175, and the 12t-14t heavy helicopters, such as the EC225 Super Puma and the Sikorsky S92.

This new centerline engine, unlike previous P&WC types, is being developed first as a turboshaft, but there is long-term interest in a 2,000shp-class turboprop derivative.

Dussault describes the turboshaft application as an "evolution to the likes of the King Air or the [Pilatus] PC-12", often used as corporate utility and special mission aircraft. "We don't anticipate an immediate need next year or the next few years," he adds.

In the spectrum of P&WC's product line-up, this next-generation engine would lie between the top end of the 1,600shp to 2,000shp PT6 and a 5,000shp to 7,000shp turboprop in development for a future 90-seat regional airliner.

P&WC's project would enter a competitive field currently dominated by the General Electric CT7 and the Turbomeca Makila engines in a similar power class.

More interestingly, perhaps, P&WC has launched the programme anticipating a new entrant at the 10t-size class in the super-medium segment. Among helicopter makers so far, only P&WC's sister company Sikorsky has confirmed interest in launching a fourth helicopter for the super-medium segment.

The new engine core will feature new technologies in the turbine and compressor sections derived from the PurePower PW1000G geared turbofan series, Dussault says.