April 12, 2013
Credit: Pratt & Whitney
Pratt & Whitney is preparing to ship the initial PW1100G A320Neo engine for flight tests in Canada on a company Boeing 747SP testbed.
The engine, rated at 33,000lb thrust, has accumulated 120 hours since beginningtests at Pratt’s West Palm Beach, Florida test site in early December. The unit concluded acoustic tests on April 10, and following installation work at Pratt’s Mirabel site, is expected to begin flight tests in June.
A second engine is undergoing structural tests and is poised for crosswind evaluations. The tests will assess fan characteristics and flutter margin. Although the variable area fan nozzle (VAN) is part of the baseline on the Pratt-powered A320Neo, and will be certified in this configuration, there is a possibility that the tests may show the VAN may not ultimately be required.
The feature, which dynamically alters exit nozzle area for different phases of flight to maintain blade stability, was deleted from the smaller PW1500G engine for Bombardier’s CSeries late last year. Pratt decided to drop the VAN when tests of an upgraded fan blade revealed the stiffer unit delivered the same performance while maintaining adequate flutter margin without the need for a variable nozzle.
The third Neo engine will begin high-pressure spool tests next month, while a fourth PW1100G has begun endurance testing at Pratt’s Manitoba icing facility in Canada. The first four engines are expected to collectively amass 1,000 test hours in the run up to certification testing which is due to get underway in “two to three months” says Saia.
Pratt’s update on Neo engine testing comes as the engine maker clinches a contract from Hawaiian Airlines for its fleet of up to 25 A321Neos. The airline, which firmed up plans for 16 aircraft plus nine options in late March, is due to take its first in 2017. Pratt says the selection of the geared turbofan for the Hawaiian fleet marks evidence of a growing preference by operators for the PW1133G engine on the long haul, higher capacity A321 over the competing CFM Leap-1A. Total A320Neo family orders now stand at almost 2,070 of which some 416 are for the A321Neo version.