Air Transport World

PW4000 off to a good start in the big engine race. (Pratt and Whitney aircraft engine)

PW4000 off to a good start in the big engine race East Hartford--Pratt & Whitney was sure the world's airlines would beat a path to its door when it launched the powerful, fuel-saving PW4000 engine in 1982. And some of them have--Pan American World Airways, Northwest Orient Airlines and Singapore Airlines, so far.

At present firm orders are on the books for 152 engines valued at more than three-quarters of a billion dollars. If the three present customers exercise all their options for additional PW4000-powered aircraft, this will mean at least another 68 engines.

Pratt estimates the development cost of the new engine at about $800 million. The chances that this expensive gamble will pay off look good, although it may not be as easy as it seemed a couple of years ago. The slide in fuel prices since the engine's launch appears to have blunted somewhat one of the 4000's sharpest selling points, its fuel economy--7% better than a JT9D-7R4 of equal thrust. Nevertheless, although selling may be somewhat harder than originally anticipated, the engine should still be a big winner because of its other attractive features, says Tadry A. Domagala, VP-program management, Commercial Products Division.

Domagala projects a market for 10,000 engines of this size class in the next 20 years, with P&W selling at least 4,000, and G.E. and Rolls-Royce splitting the rest.

Aside from the promised improvement in fuel consumption, the new engine has about 29,000 fewer parts than the JT9D-7R4--a reduction of more than 50%--which translates into a 25% reduction in maintenance material and inventory cost and a 25% reduction in assembly/disassembly time; its hot parts should last longer before work is required; it has improved performance-retention features; and it fits into the JT9D-7R4 nacelle and can be handled on the ground with 7R4 equipment, reducing the cost to an airline of running both types of engines in its fleet. …

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