Evidence that Pratt & Whitney is keen to attract business in the regional industry will be present next week when executives make the company’s first showing at the annual Regional Airline Association (RAA) conference and exhibition in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“RAA is an important show for that [regional] sector, but for Pratt, it’s a new show for us,” Pratt VP of next generation products Bob Saia told ATI in a recent interview.

Pratt’s business unit Pratt and Whitney Canada has attended RAA for years, and is listed as an exhibitor for the event this year. The two firms share a strong linkage, leveraging design tools and best practices. “In fact, my last programme, I had the GP7000 (produced by Pratt/GE joint venture Engine Alliance for the Airbus A380), and I used a Pratt Canada engine as a development engine for the GP7000 blade. I used it to validate our aerodynamic design,” says Saia.

But for Connecticut-based Pratt, a long-time maker of large commercial engines, the geared turbofan (GTF) is a foray into the regional industry, which has seen an increasing requirement for larger-sized aircraft. The GTF will power the 70- to 90-seat Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) and Bombardier’s proposed 110/130-seat CSeries airliner.

Investment in GTF technology has been robust. “We’ve been working the gear for over 20 years. If we looked at the total investment, in everything we’ve done, it is in the range of $1 billion. More recently, if we just look at the last several years, we’ve been investing over $100 million per year on technology associated with next generation single-aisle aircraft,” says Saia.

Formal engine design for the MRJ and CSeries models will be initiated later this year. “As part of our technology plan, we really want to have these technologies relatively mature, so that we can optimize the engine definition,” says Saia.

He notes that Pratt has “worked very carefully with Mitsubishi and Bombardier and have done an airline market survey to see which airlines we believe are in that launch customer movement”.

In the case of the Mitsubishi aircraft, which has secured All Nippon Airways as launch customer, a group of about a dozen airlines are considered “in that initial launch grouping”, says Saia. Pratt is “actively working with Mitsubishi in securing additional sales”.

Likewise, over the last several months, Pratt has had many key airline reviews with Bombardier present to discuss the CSeries airframe as well as engine characteristics.

Soaring fuel prices and environmental constraints add further impetus for operators to consider both the MRJ and CSeries, says Saia. “We really see there is a greater drive for them to do planning and secure equipment early. If they secure the equipment early, as they compete for that market, they will have a significant advantage over the airlines they compete with.”

Both the MRJ and CSeries are slated for entry-into-service in 2013.

Source: FlightGlobal.com