HOW REGIONAL AVIATION HAS CHANGED THE WORLD AND TOUCHED THE LIVES OF MILLIONS
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Frédéric Lefebvre Vice President, Marketing, P&WC
In a stroke of good timing in the mid-1980s, P&WC was preparing to launch a new engine – the PW100 turboprop – that would meet the growing demand for short-haul routes common to regional airlines. The PW100 quickly proved itself the most cost efficient powerplant for these aircraft in terms of both fuel consumption and maintenance, and that remains true today.
The rise of regional airlines forever changed the face of commercial aviation and has made flight accessible for hundreds of millions more people around the world.
According to Flightglobal, there were 700+ regional airlines operating around the world in 1980; today there are 1,700 in operation. Today every year, there are 627 million regional airline seats available to the flying public. Also every year, the global fleet of regional aircraft flies 13 million hours.
Regional aviation has also been instrumental in creating the 10,000 city pairs that exist today worldwide.
Today, even after numerous rounds of airline consolidation, 9.9 million people work directly in aviation. If you take a broader view, nearly 63 million jobs are supported worldwide by aviation and related tourism. Over the years to meet this burgeoning demand, we have consistently grown the PW100 engine family to accommodate larger regional aircraft and provide an improved customer experience.
From what we are seeing, the rise of regional airlines is far from its saturation point. The growing middle class in countries such as India, China, South America and Africa spell continued demand for new regional routes. Nine out of every 10 regional turboprop aircraft flying today are powered by our PW100 family of engines, so it's a space we helped define. Today, all newly manufactured regional turboprop aircraft are powered by our engines.
We are working diligently every day to maintain our position and help our customers get greater value from their engine fleets. We develop engines that have lower operating costs and are easier to maintain. We also focus on developments that make our engines more fuel efficient and produce fewer emissions and less noise which further enhances passengers' flying experience.
For example, with the improvements we have made over the past 10 years, the interval between shop visits for our PW100/150 engines has doubled to 7,500 hours creating considerable cost efficiencies for the airlines. In another example related to the adaptability of our engines and P&WC's commitment to innovation when it comes to environmental performance, two of our major airframe OEMs – Bombardier and ATR – have both conducted biofuel-powered revenue flights in recent years aboard aircraft powered by PW100 family engines.
We also have the industry's most comprehensive service network with 30 owned and designated overhaul facilities strategically located around the world. We have more than 100 Field Support Representatives (FSRs) in 30 countries and 100 mobile repair teams able to reach a customer's location within hours. With more than 100,000 engines produced and more than 88 years serving customers, no company is more attuned to your needs.
We are also working on new engines to meet the needs of airframe OEMs, including a new version of the PW150 engine for the Chinese made MA700 aircraft. The PW150C engine for the MA700 is expected to be certified in the next few years and we are working with the OEM XAC to support the entry into service of the aircraft. Additionally, we have been working on a more powerful engine for the regional airline market known as the Next Generation Regional Turboprop (NGRT). The NGRT will be capable of powering larger turboprop aircraft, a segment we feel will be in demand in the coming years.
P&WC has been inspired by the contributions regional aviation has made to the world over the years and we are honoured to have a played a central role in its growth. But with the industry as with our contribution, we feel we are just beginning. At P&WC, every year we invest roughly $500 million in research and development. We also work with 22 post-secondary institutions on the development of new technologies that address some of the real-life technical challenges we face.
We have had a number of recent breakthroughs on the innovation front. We have introduced a new product called FAST™ (Flight Acquisition, Storage and Transmission). FAST™ delivers near real-time situational awareness about engine health, usage and trends, helping move customers toward fully preventive maintenance environment.
Our Oil Analysis Technology looks at the minute particles within the oil that indicate the health of specific oil-wetted components—such as bearings and gears, which are critical to engine operations—with extremely high precision. The technology allows us to identify engine issues long before they actually materialize.
Finally, we rolled out Onsight in early 2017. Onsight is a new diagnostic that connects the aircraft technician in the field with remote specialists at a P&WC location using an interactive audio-video technology platform. The new solution helps further enable rapid diagnosis and resolution of issues in the field by making it possible for remote experts to inspect engines "virtually" and in close collaboration with the customer.
This level of activity, our focus on future needs, and our ability to address technical challenges gives us competitive advantage in the market that extends well beyond the current reach of our products.
Regional Aviation is going to continue changing the world as we know it, and like at its inception, P&WC will play a leading role in this evolution.