PW’s GTF, Boeing’s culture, China’s C919 and ARJ21, CSeries

Jon Ostrower of FlightGlobal has this piece about the “bolt-on” of Pratt & Whitney’s P1524G PurePower Geared Turbo Fan. The PurePower, also known as the Geared Turbo Fan, is the engine designed for Bombardier’s CSeries, with larger versions anticipated for development to re-engine the Airbus A320 family and potentially for application to the replacement airplane for the Boeing 737.

PW’s PurePower website is here.

Airbus said at the Farnborough Air Show that it has made the business case to re-engine the family, and it will conclude the study by the end of September whether engineering resources will be freed up to proceed with the project. We believe Airbus will green-light the program, with an announcement at the end of next month or in October.

Susanna Ray of Bloomberg News has this story about Boeing Commercial Airplanes hiring a consulting firm to reshape the culture at BCA. The story notes that one of the issues contributing to the 787 delays has been word of problems with the program were slow to get “upstairs.” We heard this throughout the program development as well, up to and including the latest programs with the horizontal stabilizers made by Alenia. BCA CEO Jim Albaugh wants to change this communications gap.

In a word, “Bravo.” Boeing’s propensity to kill the messenger hurt identification of emerging problems and contributed to delays of the 787.

BCA historically has also been less-than-receptive to ideas from labor unions to improve efficiencies and reduce costs in operations. While he was CEO at Boeing’s defense unit, what was then called IDS had a more successful program with the IAM chapter there for its “suggestion box” (for lack of a better term) that helped cut costs and improve efficiencies. Let’s hope Albaugh implements a similar system at BCA.

Ray Kwong, a contributor to Forbes Magazine, has two blogs about China’s new airplanes. The one written this week is about the C919, the direct competitor to Boeing’s 737-800/900 and the Airbus A320/321. An earlier one is about the ARJ-21 regional jet, the 70-90 seat airliner that is a direct competitor to the Embraer E-170/175 and Bombardier’s CRJ-700/900. These stories providing interesting perspectives of these emerging Chinese programs.

On an entirely separate note, we had the opportunity during our travels earlier this week to get our first look at Bombardier’s CSeries mock-up in Montreal. We were squeezed (and we do mean squeezed) into the exit row seats on American’s 757 and 737-800 on flight segments. The legroom, of course, is great in exit rows, but because of the extra legroom, the tray tables are in the arm rests, reducing the already-tight seat width to a very uncomfortable point.

A third segment was on the Embraer E-170, the first time we’ve been on this airplane even though it has been in service for many years. Our travel patterns simply haven’t afforded us a previous opportunity to fly the E-Jet.

The E-Jet’s seating is more generous than either the Boeing narrow-bodies (by a long-shot, incidentally) of the Airbus A320 family. We have made no secret of the fact we like the A320 passenger comfort far more than Boeing’s 737/757. (Alas, the 787 at nine abreast in coach will have the same seat width as the ancient 737/757 seat designs.) The E-Jet seating was really, really nice, although the overhead bins certainly were not up to Boeing or Airbus standards while being better than Tinker Toy Regional Jets.

Which at long last brings us to our experience with the CSeris mock-up.

The CSeries has much more comfortable seating than Boeing’s single-aisle jets, somewhat better than Airbus and the overhead bins are full-size. We couldn’t tell any difference in the C and E coach seats between the CSeries and the E-Jet, though BBD says E-Jet’s seats are marginally wider. The center D seat on the CSeries is wider than the seats on the E-Jet.

Certainly from a passenger’s perspective, the CSeries has clear advantages over Airbus, Boeing and Embraer.

7 Comments on “PW’s GTF, Boeing’s culture, China’s C919 and ARJ21, CSeries

  1. interesting re the pure power geared fan. it uses of course a planetary gear system to get a major reduction in fan speed re the gas turbine.

    Henry ford would be proud.

    few may realize that the old model t used a planetary gear arrangement in the steering wheel to get ‘ leverage ” and also in the semi automatic transmission.

    planetary gear trains were/are used in prop pitch mechanisms and no doubt in a few other aerospace related gear trains.

    Suddenly – its 1906 – 1908 !!

    • You could buy a Daimler Velo with a 3+1R speed planetary gearbox in 1996 😉
      Ford invented industrialisation not the automobile.

      The only detractor for planetary gears is the high number of teeth you have
      to cut and that at least one is an internal gear.
      Their use is rather universal.

  2. Do you have any indication of which engines Airbus are likely to put on the revised A320? Are they likely to carry the new CFM LEAP-X engine as well as the Pratt GTF, or will they just choose one?

  3. I thought Airbus ruled out any RR or PW proposal alone, and only wanted GTF through IAE?

    • Airbus preferred going through IAE but is resigned that RR and PW have differences that cannot be bridged, so acknowledged they will buy direct from PW if necessary.

  4. Thanks, that makes sense now with the latest announcements from RR showing their skepticism regarding re-engining existing narrow bodies.

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