Pratt & Whitney are a famous American manufacturer who completed their first aircraft engine in 1925. You have probably flown on a Pratt & Whitney powered aircraft at some point in your life as they are a major player in the market. The company are also partners in Engine Alliance and International Aero Engines who produce an Airbus 380 engine and Airbus 320 option respectively.
Geared Turbofan Engine
Many years of work went into developing an engine with gearing to a scale that could power commercial aircraft. The gearing mechanism allows each part of the engine to spin at its optimal speed. This results in a range of benefits compared to traditional turbofan engines.
Pratt & Whitney claim the engines burn 16% less fuel than the most efficient current engines. This benefit increases to 20% when coupled with newly designed aircraft. Emissions are touted to be reduced by 3,600 metric tonnes per aircraft per year. The environmental benefits of this should be very clear!
The new engines are claimed to be up to 75% quieter than existing aircraft with engine noise being 20 decibels quieter than the current most stringent noise regulations. People who live near airports can rejoice!
Where Can I Find One?
Aircraft powered by these engines are just beginning to come into service. The Airbus 320neo have these engines as an option and they entered service first with Lufthansa in January 2016. The Bombardier C-Series is powered exclusively by the engine and the first aircraft entered service in June 2016 with Swiss.
It is also scheduled to power the forthcoming Brazilian manufactured Embraer E-Jet E2 and Japan’s Mitsubishi Regional Jet. In addition Russia’s forthcoming Irkut MC-21 and the next generation of Sukhoi SuperJet will also use the engine.
Technological improvements are always fascinating but this is more striking than most. The reduction in fuel consumption, emissions and noise makes this a very environmentally friendly power plant for aircraft. Airlines and airports have confirmed Pratt & Whitney’s claims so it looks like the major effort required to get the engine into service was worth it. I hope the engine becomes commercially successful and powers many aircraft in the future.
It will be interesting to see future developments. Perhaps someday it will also be applied to large intercontinental airliners! Thanks for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.