Air Transport World

A core for all seasons. (Pratt & Whitney's aircraft parts business)

A core for all seasons

Pratt & Whitney's substantial parts business has bouyed it through the tough times as it readies to capitalize on PW4000 commonality advantages.

In terms of the story concerning draining swamps and alligators up to your butt, Pratt & Whitney has beaten the alligators away and seems to be standing on dry land watching the waters recede.

Just a few years ago, the water was high and the alligators were closing in. The PW4000 was a major investment attracting little interest. The PW2037 was locked in what might have been called mortal combat with Rolls-Royce over the 757 market, were it not for the little action in that market--call it can expensive skirmish. The standard JT8D was run out and the 200 series for the MD-80 had a limited life, likely to be replaced by a GE's UDF. The V2500 of the International Aero Engines collaboration in which Pratt is a 30% work-share partner was in deep technical trouble. The company's reputation with its customers for support, responsiveness and cooperation was hitting rock bottom (ATW, 3/88).

In fact, the only thing that held steady was the substantial spare-parts business built largely on the backs of the thousands of JT8Ds in the field, and even this was threatened in the long term by the eventual phaseout of aircraft that did not meet FAA Stage 2/ICAO Chapter II noise rules. Further, sharp spares price hikes were increasing customer discontent with Pratt.

And to add insult to injury, the eagle was chased from the company logo, replaced with a hard, impersonal and uninspiring corporate theme logo.

But the bird returned to the logo, as did--so it seems--much of the Pratt & Whitney spirit of old return to East Hartford (ATW, 5/89).

Pratt moved corporate culture mountains to realign its approach to customers; the 757 market picked up, the PW2037 found a new use on the C-17 and it is the airframe manufacturer's choice to re-engine the Ilyushin II-96; the UDF dropped out and IAE's sorted out V2500 is giving Pratt at least a share of the post-JT8D business on the MD-90 and an aggressive program to develop Stage 2/Chapter II hush kits will keep the majority of JT8Ds flying and needing spares until economics, not regulations, drive them from the skies. …

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