Pratt & Whitney Canada is targeting 2023-25 as the service-entry window for a new-generation engine that could power a potential future turboprop with at least 90 seats.
Speaking to FlightGlobal at the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) general assembly in Athens on 18 October, P&WC's vice-president of sales and marketing for regional airlines Frederic Lefebvre said the new "centreline" engine would be "specifically designed for the regional market" and capable of powering aircraft with 90-100 seats.
It will provide 4,500-7,000shp and deliver up to 20% lower fuel burn than current engines. Lefebvre adds that it will halve operating cost, on a shaft horsepower basis, versus today's equipment.
Compressor tests for the new engine were completed in 2016 with "stellar success", he says. "For us, the most important thing was to build that compressor." The next steps will be to develop other sections with partners, including MTU. Hot-section technology is to be adapted from Pratt & Whitney's PW1000G geared turbofan programme.
He notes that the engine's integration into the airframe will be central to maximising efficiency, and that the engine and aircraft manufacturers must therefore co-ordinate developments to find an optimal configuration. Wider application of electrical aircraft systems – for example, electric versus bleed-air-based air conditioning in the cabin – could reduce the aircraft's propulsion power requirement. Lefebvre says the aim is "not to oversize the engine".
So in order to develop an optimised engine, he says, P&WC will depend on the airframers' timeline for expanding their programmes.
P&WC previously foresaw earlier introduction of a new turboprop larger than the current ATR 72 and Bombardier Q400, Lefebvre indicates.
ATR shareholder Leonardo has repeatedly highlighted its interest to expand the ATR turboprop family with a larger model, but the airframer's other shareholder, Airbus, has shown less enthusiasm for the project. Meanwhile, Brazilian manufacturer Embraer says it is evaluating a potential return to the turboprop market to complement its E-Jet family.