P&W's Tom Pelland sheds light on the company's latest advances in aviation engine design

P&W's Tom Pelland sheds light on the company's latest advances in aviation engine design
Published: 23 June 2019 - 10:10 a.m.
By: Aviation Business

AVB: Could you start by sharing any details on recent orders related to commercial aviation that you’ve secured over the past couple of years?

Tom Pelland: There are nearly 10,000 GTF engine orders and commitments across five aircraft platforms to date. To put that in perspective, the very successful V2500 engine program sold 7,000 engines in 30 years, and we are already at nearly 10,000 engines after three years of service. With three engine sizes, the GTF is the only new engine that powers aircraft from 70 seats to 240 seats. The engine continues to build commercial momentum with several major orders and commitments from customers around the world.

Over the past 18 months, major GTF orders include Delta Air Lines choosing the engine to power 100 A321neo aircraft, with an option for up to 100 more; JetBlue’s selection of 60 firm A220 aircraft, exclusively powered by GTF engines; Aegean Airlines selection of the GTF engine to power up to 62 A320neo family aircraft and airBaltic’s order of 30 A220 aircraft with option for an additional 30 aircraft.

AVB: How has Pratt & Whitney continued to improve the capabilities of its civil aerospace division?

TP: Pratt & Whitney has a long history of continuous innovation going back to its founding in 1925 with the development of the revolutionary WASP engine, and has been introducing technology advances with every generation of commercial engines since.We invested more than $10bn over 20 years to develop the GTF engine, and are investing more than $2.5bn in 21st-century manufacturing and aftermarket technology to transform our global footprint. We continue to invest to create customer value across all areas of our business. These investments include engine improvements and upgrades, MRO capacity, industrial capacity, and investments in our people.

AVB: What are some of the latest developments related to modern aircraft engine design? How are you addressing the needs of your target market?

TP: With five new GTF-powered aircraft platforms, we have strategically positioned ourselves to power the fastest-growing segment in commercial aviation: single-aisle aircraft. Through 2025, it has been forecasted that more than 65% of new planes will be single-aisle aircraft, and the industry forecasts a need for about 30,000 new planes over the next 20 years. The GTF engine’s fuel efficiency and environmental advantages make it the engine of choice for airlines looking to replace or grow their single-aisle fleet. Our near term technology investments are building on the demonstrated benefits of the GTF architecture, including advanced turbine and material technologies, next-generation aerodynamics, and manufacturing techniques. P&W and UTC are also investing in longer-term technologies such as hybrid electric, as we recently announced.

AVB: What are some of the ways the company is using technology to better observe the performance of engines and predict service requirements?

TP: Our engineers and digital teams are developing advances in data analytics to serve customers better. With our eFAST data ecosystem, we are now able to capture thousands of data parameters throughout the full-flight cycle, allowing us to better monitor engine performance, minimize disruptions and predict future maintenance visits. The GTF engine incorporates 40% more sensors than our V2500 engine and can generate approximately 4 million data points per engine per flight, enabling significant improvements in addressing unscheduled maintenance.

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AVB: Could you share some insights on Pratt & Whitney’s efforts towards sustainability?

TP: We are closely aligned with our customers on efforts towards sustainability. The GTF engine is delivering the promised fuel efficiency and environmental benefits. Operators enjoy fuel savings of up to 20% compared to previous-generation aircraft. Per flight hour, GTF engines save ~100 gallons and ~1 metric tonnes of CO2. The GTF-powered A320neo provides a 16% reduction in fuel, 75% reduction in noise footprint and a 50% reduction in regulated emissions. Since the GTF engine entered into service in early 2016, customers have conserved an astounding 130 million gallons of fuel and over 1.3 million metric tons of carbon emissions. These benefits will continue to grow as the GTF fleet grows.

The GTF engine is enabling the next generation of efficient, sustainable air travel, resulting in quieter communities, quieter flights, cleaner air and economic development. The GTF allows airlines to open new routes and fly more people farther, with less fuel – and much lower noise. Its 75% reduction in noise footprint also enables increased air travel to airports where noise regulations have limited the ability to fly during certain hours.

Beyond the environmental benefits of our products, Pratt & Whitney and our parent company, United Technologies are working toward environmental goals focused on reducing greenhouse gases, hazardous waste generation and water consumption, as well as recycling a high amount of total waste. For greenhouse gas reductions, we have focused on shrinking our footprint. Just last year, projects like green buildings and factories, modern HVAC systems and more efficient lighting saved 22,400 metric tons, the same as taking 4,700 cars off the road. We have more than 10 buildings globally certified LEED Silver or better.

And we’re investing in renewable energy. At our PSD facility in Springdale, Arkansas, a new solar array will provide 230,000 kilowatt-hours per year, and help power a new, 20,000 square foot facility. For water consumption, we have focused on closed-loop systems in several of our manufacturing processes. They not only reduce our water consumption but also reduce our risk regarding environmental compliance. For example, one system in water-scarce Singapore saves more than 800,000 gallons a year. Since 2006, we’ve reduced our water usage by 596 million gallons – that’s the equivalent of 902 Olympic-size swimming pools.

AVB: What are Pratt & Whitney’s projections in terms of future engine designs? How will they differ from the current generation?

TP: The GTF engine’s revolutionary architecture allows for further evolution and performance enhancements. Being at the very early stages of this new technology, we see a tremendous runway for further efficiency gains and new aircraft applications. We are also investing in new technologies across the portfolio including digital technologies, additive manufacturing, advanced high-temperature materials and hybrid electric. Our parent company United Technologies recently launched a hybrid-electric propulsion technology demonstrator program. This demonstrator program is expected to yield average fuel savings for regional-sized aircraft of 30%, and we're targeting first flight within three years. Importantly, this project combines the engineering expertise and experience of the Pratt & Whitney, Collins Aerospace and the UTC research centre teams.

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