April 2, 2015: Lean principals and increased shifting to automated manufacturing are key to an aggressive ramp up for the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan engine, according to officials.
The first production engines for the Airbus A320neo are scheduled for delivery to Toulouse in the second and third quarters of this year. The A320neo will be the first airplane to put the new GTF into service now that the EIS of the Bombardier CSeries has slipped to next year. The CS100, the first airplane for which the GTF was chosen to power an airliner, was originally supposed to enter service in late 2013. A series of delays now puts this in the first or second quarter of next year, barring additional delays.
PW currently produces about 500 V2500 engines a year for the A320 family. It took 25 years to reach this number. The high demand of the GTF–more than 6,000 engines across the Bombardier, Airbus, Embraer, Mitsubishi and Irkut families–means PW has to achieve this production rate in about three years.
PW has built identical production facilities in Middletown (CT) and West Palm Beach (FL), following a lead for automation created by its facility at PW Canada at Mirabel Airport outside Montreal. We toured the Middletown facility as part of PW’s annual media days.
Lean manufacturing and automation on the line leads to an estimated 20%-30% reduction in labor, or putting it another way, increased productivity. The goal is to increase this to 50% after the learning curve and production maturity is achieved.
PW said the GTF engines have now achieved 16,000 hours of testing. Results are said to be well ahead of expectations, despite a temporary setback a year ago when a GTF experienced a major failure during a test on a CS100. This failure caused a three month suspension of the flight tests of the CSeries, but ironically allowed Bombardier to catch up on software integration and other issues.
The Airbus GTF engine, the P1100G, is going to enter service about 0.5% or slightly more better than specifications. The CSeries GTF is also fractionally better than expected.