The bullish mood starting to percolate the world's aerospace industry was echoed by Pratt & Whitney president Louis Chênevert, speaking to Flight Daily News on the eve of Farnborough 2004.

He said: "Things started to improve late in 2003 and the first half of 2004 has been pretty strong. Around 60 per cent of our business is related to maintenance service agreements (MSA) and this proportion is growing every year. We now have $4.5billion of a $30billion market - so for us it's a case of 'runway ahead'."

Having been the losers - to GE and R-R - in the three-way battle to power Boeing's 7E7, it could have been a depressing time for Pratt & Whitney. But not so. Chênevert is confident that the future is rosy and lurking in the background is the thought that Pratt's all-electric engine proposal - the PW-EXX - could yet see the light of day.


He said: "We've had some discussions with Airbus about the possibility of using it to power a future A330 version, talking about things like thrust, weight and fuel consumption but really in no more detail than we do with lots of other concepts."

Assuming that the Boeing 7E7 starts to look as though it will deliver around the expected time towards the end of the decade, then there may be no compelling argument further to develop the A330 concept as competition. But should Boeing's Dreamliner be delayed for any reason, then the huge investment required to turn the PW-EXX into a bleed-air engine - or the A330 into an all-electric aircraft - would start to look more attractive, especially if risk-sharing partners appeared on the horizon.

Says Chênevert: "In terms of risk share, we would only play with a significant position on any programme, not as a minority partner."


So he seems relatively unconcerned about the lost opportunity to enhance his engine portfolio - basically because the remaining powerplants are doing so well. "We like to think this is because when you buy from Pratt & Whitney, you know what you're getting - and there are no nasty surprises," he said.

Turning to the GP7000 Engine Alliance power plant for the Airbus A380, in which P&W and GE have equal shares, Chênevert said that despite a few testing glitches in the high-pressure turbine section - sourced from GE rather than P&W - there would "...probably be no delay to the testing schedule, although it is a tight programme."

On the military side, Chênevert was proud of progress in all programmes. The F117 engines for the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft are, he said, delivering on time and up to specification, while P&W has now delivered 48 engines for the F-22 Raptor and will deliver a similar number in 2005.

With the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter suffering growing pains, P&W's F135 engine is under pressure to deliver to specification and on-target and Chênevert is more than confident of progress. He said: "We have met the weight target and are looking at ways of providing more thrust. There's certainly some available although it will be difficult to grow this by more than 1,500 to 2,000lbs...but we're still looking."

Overall then, things are looking good for P&W. And when you add in the engines being produced by P&W Canada - and future potential usage in business jets and also UAVs - it's hardly surprising that Chênevert is up-beat about the future.

Like everyone else in engine manufacture, P&W is extremely conscious of the pressure to develop engines that give more thrust, lower emissions and noise and improved specific fuel consumption.

Concluded Chênevert: "Our 'tech readiness programme' is looking at all these aspects and with improved materials, allied with our huge reserves of creativity, we're in good shape. Basically, we are in the business of leveraging unique value solutions for our customers, whether it's with new engines or MSA contracts and we do it well."

Source: Flight Daily News