Pratt & Whitney Heeds Hard Lessons Learned on GTF - Delivered 374 GTFs Last Year
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by Gregory Polek - July 11, 2018, 10:00 AM
Pratt & Whitney appears to have reached a point at which it can turn more of its attention toward proactive improvements to its geared turbofans after it reverted to a previous knife-edge seal configuration in the PW1100G's high-pressure compressor aft hub in reaction to a series of rejected takeoffs and in-flight shutdowns in Airbus A320neos.
Speaking last month at the company's Digital Accelerator facility in Brooklyn, New York, Pratt & Whitney Commercial Engines president Chris Calio told reporters that engineers continue to explore new designs for the seal, as part of standard practice to pursue continuous improvement in the overall engine design.
"We're still looking at what we may want to do to that seal long-term," said Calio. "There may be an upgrade that we want to put in place from the current configuration in the future."
Calio acknowledged that the problem taught Pratt "kind of a hard lesson" in terms of the testing rigor it needs to employ before inserting upgrades. "What we're ultimately going to do to this knife-edge seal to the extent that the engineers come back and they want to make a more robust design, it will be through an increased set of testing," he explained. "There will be some durability and other upgrades to the engine, some of which we talked about, which will go through more intensive testing. In some cases, we will have taken the original timeline and pushed it out to the right in order to allow for more of what I would call less success-based testing."
Calio, meanwhile, noted that Pratt had a few weeks earlier met its first commitment milestone for deliveries to Airbus and expressed confidence that the engine company would deliver the number it has promised for the year, although it declines to specify the exact figure due to competitive considerations. "[Parent company] UTC has been very public about what our negative margin engine losses are per year, so because of that, if we put out an exact production number, my competitor can pretty much calculate what my loss per engine is and calculate what my price is," explained Pratt & Whitney president Bob Leduc.
Having delivered 374 GTFs last year, Pratt & Whitney has....