Pratt & Whitney is targeting Bombardier's proposed BRJ-X 100-seat regional airliner as the first potential application for a geared-fan engine based on newly revealed plans to develop an advanced technology fan integrator (ATFI) demonstrator.

The ATFI will be co-developed by Pratt & Whitney Canada, P&W and Fiat, and will run in the first quarter of next year. The first demonstrator will be based around the core of a PW&C PW308 turbofan, and is expected to generate 12,000lb-15,000lb thrust (53.4-66.7kN).

The engine is scheduled to fly on the company's Boeing 720B testbed by the third quarter of 2001 under Phase I of the effort.

Phase II will "kick off next year", says P&W president Louis Chenevert, who says the second demonstrator will be "based around a dramatically different 308 core". The resulting engine will produce thrust levels approaching 20,000lb and is expected to form the basis for the BRJ-X bid, among others.

Despite coming late to the regional market, the benefits of the new engine will be irresistible to airlines, believes Chenevert. Targets include a 10% fuel consumption improvement compared to "contemporary" engines, a 30dB noise reduction and 10% lower operating costs. "It's never too late when you have technological advantages like these," says the P&W boss.

Discussions over the engine are at an early stage following Bombardier's decision to focus on developing the CRJ-900 90-seater and push back the BRJ-X's entry into service date to late 2004. The latter would require an engine in the 20,000-22,000lb thrust range.

Bombardier officially lists the PW6000 as the reference engine for the BRJ-X, but says it is also considering a de-rated version of the CFM International CFM56 and the Rolls-Royce BR715. The airframer declines to comment on any discussions with P&W over the possible use of an engine based on ATFI technology.

However, Bombardier Regional Aircraft vice-president marketing Trung Ngo says using advanced engine technology on the BRJ-X will be a key to its goal of achieving a dramatic reduction in operating costs compared with rivals such as the Boeing 717 and Airbus A318.

But he cautions: "We have to be very careful that we don't walk into a situation where the engine and airframe are so far advanced that we can't provide in-service reliability without too much compromise."

Source: Flight International