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JT8D runs up remarkable longevity record

What has flown the equivalent of a million times to the moon, 10 million times around the world, and run for 57,000 years?

The answer is the Pratt & Whitney JT8D engine, which reached the landmark figure of 500 million hours in service just before the show... the first time that this total has been reached in commercial aviation history.

And the statistics keep coming as the remarkable JT8D has run-up 400 million flight cycles, representing 60% of all flights on existing commercial jet aircraft and more than half of the world's flight hours!

As often happens in aviation, everything began with a chance telephone call.

Back in 1960, Charlie Froesch, vice-president of engineering at Eastern Airlines, rang P&W sales engineer Frank Dulyn and asked whether the company had anything suitable to power the new Boeing 727. The rest is history.

Once the decision was made, P&W's investment in the project was $75million - a huge figure in the early '60s but now little more than 5% to 10% of what an equivalent project would cost.

The JT8D has gone on to make tens of billions of dollars for P&W since the engine made its Paris Air Show debut (in mock-up form) in 1961.

 

Thousand

Since then, the engines have powered several thousand airframes including Boeing 727s and 737s; McDonnell Douglas DC-9s and MD-80s; Sud Aviation Caravelles; and Dassault Mercures.

The engine even saw military service when Volvo Flygmotor modified the JT8D to power the Swedish supersonic Viggen fighter.

Between 1962 and 1989, P&W produced 11,845 of the 'standard' JT8D models and the -200 version is still in production with 2,705 having been built.

Most of these engines are still in service today on some 4,500 commercial aircraft.

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