Maker targets UK law-enforcement market with close-to-certification engine for EC135

Pratt & Whitney Canada is attempting to break into the UK market with its uprated PW206B2 engine married to the Eurocopter EC135 helicopter. Receiving unrestricted Category A approval from the UK Civil Aviation Authority for the helicopter, with the uprated engines, is top of the company's priority list for the powerplant, as it eyes the Turbomeca monopoly in the UK police operations market.

The EC135 light twin comes with a choice of Turbomeca Arrius 2B1 or P&WC PW206B engines, The aircraft is also available with increased maximum take-off power variants of both engines, the Arrius 2B2 and PW206B2 respectively. The Montreal-based firm is keen to tap the lucrative UK police operations market. The first B2-powered EC135 variant was delivered to the Swedish police in August.

P&WC feels there has not been enough demand in the UK previously to submit its engine for approval. However, Eric Gizard, vice president of turboshaft engines at P&WC, says that there has been strong interest from the UK and Ireland for the higher power variant, which it hopes to satisfy in the very short term.

P&WC points also to a lack of dedication to selling its engine on the part of UK Eurocopter distributor McAlpine, which is also a Turbomeca dealership. McAlpine, which flew the PW206B-powered EC135 demonstrator around the UK on a sales tour in 1996, maintains that it plays no part in its customer's engine choice. "We sell helicopters, not engines," says John Osmond, marketing manager for the Oxford-based company.

Gizard says P&WC's support network may have contributed to the engine's limited penetration in Europe, where out of 100 aircraft in operation, only 23 have Canadian-built engines. From its Berlin spares base, for example, it is difficult to fulfil many UK police operators' 12h engine-replacement deadlines. Partly as a result, P&WC dominates only the German and some Scandinavian markets.

Eberhard Schöll, an EC135 programme manager at Eurocopter, says that P&WC has been pressing Eurocopter to complete all the necessary flight testing for certification in Germany by January. The UK should follow a month later.

The engine, a variant of the PW207D used on Bell 427s, suffered a six-month delay this year, due largely to changes in US regulations for all multi-engine rotorcraft which now require the total one engine inoperative hovering time of 2min 30sec to be split into 2min followed by 30sec.

As a response, Eurocopter staggered certification into three steps, from provisional Transport Canada certification in July, through the current restricted Category B certification it received from German airworthiness authority LBA in September, to final Category A certification in January. The delay has allowed Turbomeca to reduce the development lead P&WC once had and the Po-based company has now completed 100h of flight testing on the Arrius 2B2 and expects to certificate the engine in one step next July.

Source: Flight International