Pratt & Whitney’s full-scale Geared Turbofan demonstrator engine during a nacelle system fit check
Fri 9 May 2008 – More than 50 representatives from airlines and leasing companies gathered in Florida earlier this week to review developments of Pratt & Whitney’s Geared Turbofan Engine programme, which promises significant fuel burn, emissions and noise reduction advances in next generation engine technology.
The geared turbofan has been selected as the exclusive power for the recently announced new Mitsubishi Regional Jet and the proposed Bombardier CSeries aircraft, both of which are expected to enter service in 2013.
The powerplant’s state-of-the-art gear system allows the engine’s fan to operate at a different speed than the low-pressure compressor and turbine, which the company says results in greater fuel efficiency and a slower fan speed for reduced noise.
“Considering the cost and environmental challenges facing this industry, what we need is action – not talk – and I commend Pratt & Whitney,” commented Hal Calamvokis, Strategic Planning Manager of UK low-cost carrier easyJet. “It is truly impressive to see the amount of time, resource and money it is devoting to this programme.”
“The environmental benefits of the Geared Turbofan engine are significant and timely in the current world of exorbitant fuel prices and environmental sensitivity,” said Bob Pekarek, Director, Powerplant and Component Engineering at Northwest Airlines, which has been touted as a possible customer for the Bombardier CSeries. “I was impressed at how quiet the engine was at idle and full take-off power, requiring only minimal hearing protection and allowing the ability to hold a conversation while the engine was running at those high speeds. The dramatically reduced fuel burn, noise and emissions of the engine are significant advantages.”
Nico Bucholz, Lufthansa’s Senior Vice President, Corporate Fleet Planning said: “With rising fuel prices, a difficult economy and growing environmental focus, we look for an engine that can deliver double-digit reductions in fuel burn, emissions and operating costs, while significantly reducing noise. These criteria are essential for an airline.” Lufthansa has shown an interest in the CSeries, which is specifically designed for the lower end of the 100- to 149-seat market.
The engine has recently entered a second phase of ground testing that will focus on engine performance and acoustic characteristics with a flight-capable nacelle system prior to mid-year flight testing. Pratt & Whitney expect to enter a detailed design stage for the engine’s production configuration later this year.
During the first phase, the Geared Turbofan demonstrator engine was successfully operated using a synthetic fuel blend as part of a partnership with the NASA Fundamental Aeronautics programme. Pratt & Whitney has been researching and testing alternative fuels, and has partnered with the United States Air Force in testing and certifying a range of military aircraft to operate on blended synthetic fuels. The company says it is also planning to test alternative fuels this year on commercial and business jet engines.