Engine maker hopes to join General Electric on planned -400X QLR programme

Pratt & Whitney hopes to have an agreement in place with Boeing soon to offer a version of the PW4062 engine for the planned 747-400X Quiet Longer Range (QLR) which will be compliant with London Heathrow Airport's stringent QC2 noise limits.

The company at the same time is targeting November for certification of a PW4000 modification that promises to finally solve a long-running compressor surge problem.

Boeing unveiled its proposed 747-400X QLR derivative in February and the manufacturer has a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with rival General Electric to offer the CF6-80C2 on the widebody. The CF6-80C2 is the lead engine on the new aircraft.

"We're having business discussions with Boeing on the QLR. We have an MoU done for the LRX, which is the same aircraft, but does not meet QC2," says Robert Leduc, P&W executive vice-president for large commercial engines.

To meet the stringent QC2 cumulative noise restrictions at London Heathrow Airport, it will be necessary to modify the nacelle of the PW4062 engine for use on the 747-400-QLR.

A package of modifications is being looked at by the company, including the installation of a new chevron nozzle and acoustic treatment of the inlet with noise-absorbing liners.

Leduc suggests all of those will be needed, not only to demonstrate QC2, but provide a margin to be able to guarantee compliance to airlines. "This is not a technological challenge, but a business challenge," says Leduc, adding that the cost of the redesigned nacelle will be in the order of $100 million.

P&W is believed to be targeting all major PW4000-powered 747-400 operators serving Heathrow, with key airlines including Singapore Airlines and United Airlines.

Boeing has previously said it was aiming to make a go-ahead decision on the new aircraft by the end of June, to enable entry into service by mid-2004.

Rolls-Royce has been pushing Boeing to offer its Trent 600 on the new model, as the RB211-524 is not suitable, but this is a less favoured option as it would struggle to meet the manufacturer's in-service target.

P&W, in the meantime, is focused on a high-pressure compressor ring case modification that addresses the PW4000 compressor surge problem.

The company hopes to begin distributing hardware to the airlines early next year for retrofit to engines during scheduled overhaul. Upgrading all 2,400 engines effected will take until 2007.

Source: Flight International