Pratt & Whitney: Lean, automated manufacturing key to GTF ramp up

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.

14 Comments on “Pratt & Whitney: Lean, automated manufacturing key to GTF ramp up

  1. Bjorn and Scott,

    They always say meets or exceeds specs or falls short by so much percentage. They never specify what the specs are or were, intentionally! Can you guestimate and tell us even if unsubstantiated, what the uninstalled TSFC of the PW 1100G might be. I am expecting it to be close to 0.51 in British units plus or minus 0.01. Am I right?

    • The public number is 16% better than today’s engines, so add 0.5% to that.

      • Please remind me what uninstalled TSFC “current engines” provide. 0.57? 0.55? 0.60?

        • TSFC depends on air pressure, humidity, temperature and airspeed. There is no one number to compare engines.

          • Basically, it must be proven in real-world/real usage conditions………..but Rolls Royce and Pratt&Whitney have decades-long history of stretching the truth…….Lying.

            Where as GE is often criticized for very R&D/ long intro and testing….yet often comes close or exceeding their claims……………look at the R&D engineering and evolution of the CF6 to GE90/GenX Series and CFM Turbo Fan Series………..the real world realities are vary close to claims before long before Introduction.

            If the Past is any indication………..P&W will fail on promises(747-100,200,etc).

            But(P&W) once locked into contracts…………..only later, evolved CF6 GE engines will live up to the original promise for the next option of C-Series-A320 Variants of fuel efficiency/range without P&W power-plants.

            Rolls Royce is lost cause, as though may intro a New variant on time……………rampd-up production and promises always is a Lie…………can Rolls Royce ever be trusted? No.

            The Largest UK(internal combustion edtion) selling Brand………MINI (under BMW ownership)…………….every engine is a Peugeot Engine built under Licence/Royalty Agreement(by BMW)…………..that should say something about the UK’s Labor-Infrastructure lack of delivering on promises.

          • I know that and it is my business to know that but … the most important operating point for civilian engines is steady cruise at the designed Mach number and altitude. Once that is specified, everything is set. So the question should have been: What is the TSFC (installed or uninstalled) at steady cruise flight conditions? It is difficult to get reliable answers. So I thought I would ask Scott, since he must know.

        • One wonders why features like variable pitch vanes(Fan Blades) used in modern 100,000+rpm automotive Turbo Chargers(Air Research,KKK,Mitsubishi,etc) can’t be adapted (scaled-up) for Fan Jets.

          After all….inhaling and exhaling more air is a given for increased efficiency/power…at different engine speeds

          Much is being made of the current design of Fan Jets smooth-curved-blades……..however that same Fan-Blade design has been used for automotive AC condensers and coolant needs for 2+ decades.

          Aviation Industry seems lacking in radial departures of the Tauto………….meaning the same.

          With Newer planes and engines seeming to get heavier………Radical-Inventive R&D needs to take place to reach the full-potential of truly efficient and powerful Fan-Jets

          • PW developed VAN for GTF but found the engine was efficient enough to not need the VAN, which is heavy and adds complexity. Some day VAN will likely find its way on a production engine, but not today.

  2. That is certainly a nice bonus for P&W.

    Maybe others remember if an engine exceeded specs to start with, nice not to scramble and be able to improve it.

  3. 0,5% better than specifications + 2% worst performance by CFM at EIS… Seems a lot to me. After perhaps 2 years, CFM could be at specs, but then again, the GTF could keep the same distance? They have already told a 2% PIP is the enabler for the 321LR, so maybe even better for engines in the near future. That could mean getting closer to 20% better than the engines being used today!! (16% better as promised + 0.5% even better at EIS + 2% after PIP = 18.5%)!!! That could be a lot less fuel, noise, contamination.
    Interesting times, even with a cheaper oil, since it seems e would finally start pushing for the environment protection from just money.

  4. Scott, while you are over there I have a few questions for you.

    1) P&W was supposed to use an Audi car moving line to assemble the GTF in Mirabel. Could you please confirm they are doing so at all three facilities: YMX, CT and FL.

    2) Mirabel had a head start but the CSeries is late. What impact does this have on the PW1500G engine production?

    3) Since they are not as busy as expected at this stage, is Mirabel helping CT and FL with the 1100? After all the A320neo will EIS at least six months before the CSeries!

    • We’re done here but:

      1. CT and FL are identical facilities, which are following the Mirabel model.
      2. None. PW did its own assessment of late programs (MRJ90, too) and planned accordingly.
      3. Can’t answer that.–dunno.

  5. “April 2, 2015: Lean principals”

    Whilst I’m as keen as the next shareholder to see the senior exceutives (or ‘principals’) lean, trim, and in altogether great shape, I guess you probably mean “lean principles” here


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