Pratt & Whitney (P&W) president Louis Chenevert arrives in Paris against a background of US-French friction raised by the recent controversial decision by Airbus to award Snecma and not Pratt & Whitney Canada a contract to power the Airbus Military A400M transport aircraft.

Chenevert, not one to duck an issue, is prepared to have his say on the matter, which has outraged P&W and has the US Congress crying foul.

P&W was asked by Airbus to bid and says it was told by the manufacturer that its PW180 turboprop offering was some 20% cheaper than the European EPI TP400-D6 turboprop that was ultimately selected.

Chenevert says: "We were told it was going to be a level playing field. Pratt & Whitney Canada has a long and steady expertise in turboprop application and integration. I think we were well positioned and would have been able to offer a value proposition.

"I was truly disappointed to see that in the end it was not a level playing field. Politics took over. When you lose fairly, you don't mind. But I have a little heartburn over this."

Chenevert comments that he believes EADS "missed an opportunity" and adds pointedly: "Maybe they don't need the kind of cost reductions we were offering."

A pragmatist, Chenevert also acknowledges that Airbus is an important customer and says it is important to maintain a healthy business relationship. "The Airbus relationship certainly took a hit, but we will fix it because it's in our mutual interest," he says.

But Chenevert also points out that P&WC had made "a significant investment of several million dollars" in initial design work for the A400M engine bid and warns that his company will continue to "watch closely" A400M development to ensure no technologies that were contained in the P&WC bid proposal appear in the programme.

Disputes aside, the P&W president has much to celebrate. A 94-scale hollow titanium swept fan blade of the GP7200 engine for the A380, for instance, is running at P&W's test rig in Florida.

The GP7200, being developed in a joint venture with General Electric, is a success story, says Chenevert.

"A lot of people made bets that Pratt could not work with GE and we have proven them wrong. We are working in a superb way in my view," he says. Fan tests are going well, he adds, and core runs will start next year. "Everything is on schedule to meet Airbus targets," says Chenevert. "It's a compelling story for us. This will be an engine with two big aerospace engine manufacturers behind it. It will be a great value proposition."


Chenevert adds that he is happy with how the market has split 50:50 between the Engine Alliance GP7200 and its rival Roll-Royce. "It's a good spot to be in."

Chenevert also is pleased with progress on the PW6000, which despite earlier performance problems appears to be back on track. "It's now progressing very well," says the P&W chief. "We've fixed the fuel burn issue and although a lot of people had their doubts, Pratt needs a core of this size and is committed to this core."

Even in today's soft market, P&W believes there are some 150 firm opportunities for the engine, which was developed for the Airbus A318 and is targeted at the 100-seat aircraft market.

Also going well is the F135, an F119 derivative that will power the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

Comments Chenevert: "This is the biggest engine programme we have ever done. It's a $4.8 billion programme, but it's minimal risk. The core will have done a million hours by the time it gets on the JSF. We have met all the milestones and are just coming out of a government design review with flying colours. It's a very strong programme."

Chenevert also is confident of P&W's position with the proposed Boeing 7E7, whether the manufacturer decides to dual- or single-source the aircraft's powerplant. "We sense, talking to the different airlines, that there is a lot of interest in this aircraft because of the value proposition," he says. "Pratt is well positioned from a technology perspective. We have all the technologies available to give them a good value proposition.Our aim is to have an eagle on the engine."

Source: Flight Daily News