Pontifications: The view from 51,000 feet

Oct. 9, 2017, © Leeham Co., Montreal: The National Business Aviation Assn. (NBAA) annual exhibition begins tomorrow in Las Vegas.

LNC doesn’t ordinarily follow business aircraft, but when I was in Montreal last month visiting Pratt & Whitney Canada, I had the opportunity to meet with leaders of the PW800 team.

This new engine powers the new Gulfstream 500/600, a corporate aircraft undergoing testing.

Admittedly, not being conversant with the G500/600 or the PW800, details of which may be not new to some others, I was taken by a fewer pointers shared by PWC.

The sky’s the limit

The G500/600’s ceiling is an eye-popping 51,000 ft. Commercial airliners top out at 41,000-43,000 but often struggle to get into the mid- to upper-30,000 level with a full payload, rising higher after fuel is burned off.

This is the view from 50,000 ft.

This is the view of Seattle from 51,000 ft.

Seattle from 51,000 ft. Source: Google Earth.

This is the view from 40,000 ft

Seattle from 40,000 ft. Source: Google Earth.

Michael Perodeau, VP Marketing-Business Aviation, said that when the aircraft rolled out, the pilots reported they could hear the APU over the engines—another remarkable data point for someone who lives under the occasional flight path to Boeing Field in which corporate jets are very noticeable overhead.

Powering the G500/600

The PW814 powers the G500 and the PW815 powers the G600. There are few fundamental differences between the engines; thrust is slightly higher for the latter’s PW815 and there are some software differences. The G500 has an advertised range of 5,000nm and its sibling, 6,200nm.

The PW800 core is common to the larger, commercial PW1000 series Geared Turbo Fan, but without the gear reduction system of the GTF.

The rest of the engine is new, Perodeau said.

Certification is expected by year end.

Advances in materials and aerodynamics give the PW800 10% better SFC (fuel burn) than comparable engines, Perodeau said. “It has a very good thrust-to-weight ratio.” The engine has lighter structure but he wouldn’t reveal the bypass ratio.

The engine beats ICAO’s Stage 4 noise and emissions requirements by a considerable margin.

Easy access

Scott McElvaine, VP-Marketing for the PW800, said the engines were design with large access doors to ease access for maintenance. Previous engines were more constrained, he said.

Improvements in reliability and design mean a 40% reduction (improvement) in maintenance manhours on the engines, he said.

10 Comments on “Pontifications: The view from 51,000 feet

    • Albeit interesting insight to a sector of the market quite often forgotten about in aviation.

  1. Does a Max 8, fully loaded, need to “step climb” to a high 30s altitude?

    • Yes. Max initial crz altitude of MAX 8 after a MTOW take-off would be about 35,000′. Optimum alt. 33,500′.

  2. I thought this was an extremely overlooked aspect of the Jet Engine business.

    First for P&W to take away a blue chip customer with the new engine meant it had to be a real step change above and beyond. Gulfstream is not going to do something stupid with their business.

    That it beat out RR as the former supplier is a shocker.

    It says to me that not only is the PW800 solid, the GTF is well founded despite the production (fan blades) and some quality anomalies (seals and burner) and the future is very very bright.

    • Left out is the implication in the NMA project engine supplier that now has the Aurora tech to add to Boeings tech.

  3. ulfstreams top of the range G650, which introduced the ‘XWB’ cabin to compete with the Bombardier ‘Global ‘ line, uses the Rolls Royce BR715 engines. This was an advanced adaptation of the older BR engines. It too can get to 51K feet

    Its been all change in the high end business jet engines, with GE’s new Passport , with technologies from CFM Leap, being used on the lastest Global 7000/8000. The new P&W 800 going onto the new XWB G500/600 and the Safran ( the french partner to CFM) Silvercrest with its smaller thrust troubled engine eventually getting on the new Dassault 5X and Citation Longitude.

    Rolls Royce with no new engine in the 20K to 35K range like GE and P&W to leverage an all new large business jet/regional jet sized engine. It remains to see if P&W and GE will have the actual reliability of RR once in service.

    • The Citation Longitude has switched to the Honywell HTF7000 while the Silvercrest is still slated for the Citation Hemisphere- but I cant see the Silvercrest continuing as it seems to have more problems.

  4. Aren’t new aircrafts expected to follow the ICAO Chapter 14/FAA Stage 5 noise certification as oppose to current Stage 4?

    • Its not until 2020 for business jets, but some commercial jets like 787 and 380 are at Cat 5 now. Cseries would be even better

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