PARIS: Interview - P&W commercial engines president Todd Kallman

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Todd Kallman is president for Pratt & Whitney commercial engines and global services. He talks to Flightglobal about progress in developing the geared turbofan engines that will power four separate airliner programmes, the status of testing and preparations to support the engines in service.

The Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engine has been selected to power a remarkable four programmes, the Bombardier CSeries, the Airbus A320neo, the Mitsubishi MRJ regional jet and the Irkut MS-21. How do you feel positioned heading into the Paris air show?

There is a lot of momentum for and a lot of customer acceptance of the GTF. On the A320neo, we're the first to secure engine orders. And we're seeing orders for the PW1100G across three segments with the A320neo - IndiGo, a low-cost carrier; International Lease Finance, a premium leasing company; and Lufthansa, which is recognised around the world as a global leader.

todd kallman, p&w
 © Pratt & Whitney

IndiGo, in particular, was a very big deal. IndiGo chairman Rakesh Gangwal is well respected in the industry and he said the PW1100G's benefits will allow the carrier to make dramatic improvements in environmental performance with reduced emissions and significant savings in fuel consumption. With regard to the PW1500G-powered CSeries, we were very pleased by the fact that we're seeing progress on the CSeries orders. If you look at some of what Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Gary Scott is saying, he is not going to predict what is going to happen at the show, but there is a fair amount of activity in the pipeline and we're confident that this will be a successful programme.

At the Farnborough air show last year Qatar Airways boss Akbar Al Baker said a CSeries order hadn't come to fruition due to the airline's concerns over P&W's maintenance cost guarantees. Where does P&W stand on the issue now?

We continue to work with Bombardier and I think we are in a good position. But think about the fact that we were able to show both Lufthansa, which has its own maintenance organisation, and IndiGo, a low-cost carrier, that we have a better value proposition on the A320neo engine than the competition. I think that was huge. We have a good strategy in place. We'll have a network that supports us.

Partners on the A320neo include MTU and Japanese Aero Engines. So we have a good plan. We put a lot of effort into how we designed this engine, not just for performance but also maintainability, including placing boroscope ports on the engine so you can do a lot of inspection on wing, and we can do some repairs on wing overnight that traditionally have been done in an engine shop, such as compressor aerofoil blending.

We even simplified how you dismantle and reassemble the engine in the shop. Also, there are much fewer parts so all of that goes into lowering maintenance costs.

Lufthansa has ordered both the GTF-powered A320neo and the CSeries. Is there any engine parts commonality for operators, and do you envisage that more airlines order both types?

There is a difference in core size between the two engines, and they are not common on a part number basis, but there is commonality in the architecture so it gives us the opportunity in developing the aftermarket maintenance plan to have synergies there.

There will be compatibility in terms of how the engine is maintained on wing with the use of boroscopes. In terms of whether it makes sense for airlines to acquire both A320neo and CSeries, it goes back to the airline and how they want to evaluate commonality - whether it be commonality in the actual airplane versus what is the actual mission for the aircraft. But I think there are opportunities for both types in an airline's fleet.

How has the GTF performed in testing?

The PW1524G for the CSeries was the first engine we tested. Between the first two engines in the series, we have approximately 400h of engine testing and we're getting very good results. We actually sent the first engine up to our facility in Manitoba [Canada] for icing tests, and it performed really well. We're looking to begin testing the second engine on our Boeing 747 flying testbed this summer.

The initial flight-test programme will target about 50h of flight tests. We'll have a second flight-test campaign later this year and begin flight testing with the full production propulsion system the first half of next year. We won't be doing a flight test of the PW1500G on an actual CSeries aircraft until the second half of next year.

The PW1217G engine for the Mitsubishi MRJ has more than 50h in the test stand, and we are very pleased with the performance we're getting from those results. Flight testing of the PW1217G engine is scheduled to start late this year.

Are you ready for PW1500G production?

On 6 May we opened our new Mirabel aerospace centre, where all the PW1500G engines will be built. The building is also the new home of all P&W flight-test operations. It's a state-of-the-art facility. We will start ramping up production in 2012 in preparation for the CSeries service entry in 2013.

The MRJ has endured an orders lag. Are you concerned?

A big milestone occurred from a commercial standpoint when Trans States Holdings firmed up its order for 50 MRJs plus 50 options. The letter of intent had been hanging out there for a while. Mitsubishi has active campaigns out there. From a technical standpoint, their aircraft will perform very well. Part of it is because they chose our engine. We know there is more activity going on - will you see more at the air show?

I'm not sure, but if you look at the class of aircraft, the MRJ is a new airplane with a new propulsion system and so I think it will be attractive to airlines.

Do you expect to be selected to power next-generation aircraft from Boeing and/or Embraer?

We continue to talk with Boeing and Embraer as they evaluate what they're going to do going forward. We think we have the right engine for them as well. We don't see how this engine would not be able to serve the widebody market as well. We're very excited with where we're at.

Do you believe the GTF will be able to match the efficiencies of future open-rotor technology?

From an efficiency standpoint, we are confident we can match what open rotor can provide in the mid-2020 timeframe. Also, we find it hard to understand how you solve some of the significant issues with certification, safety and noise pertaining to open-rotor engines. The noise can't match what you can do with the GTF.

We'll still look at it to make sure it's something we're not missing, but we feel confident we can scale up to meet requirements of the future.

What message are you carrying with you at the Paris air show?

There are three key points to remember. First, this engine is real and it's an engine for now and the future. Second, it's low risk because of all the testing we've done in getting ready for production and third, it has broad customer acceptance, demonstrated by the fact we're on four different platforms. There are customers for each of those, and we were able to secure the first three engine orders for the A320neo, so we're very pleased.